A MelanieM Review: Challenge Me (With Me #4) by Kris Jacen

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Briar Mason joined the Army to find himself after he believed the lies that had gone around about his best friend, Carter, and his sister. He should have known that Carter wouldn’t do those things but family was family, right? He’ll find out who his real family is when he’s injured and sent back to the states.

Not-telling-you-my-first-name Randolph was about to hit ten years in the Army and had some amazing assignments but one had eluded him until now – Ranger School. Coming from being assigned to the Presidential Salute Battery was going to be the best thing for him since training was emphasized. Should be easy, right?

Briar and Randolph met when Briar had stopped to apologize to Carter and Randolph was in full-on protective mode. Can these two find a middle ground while challenging themselves and each other to be better?

Kris Jacen’s With Me series is, without a doubt, one of my favorite contemporary series.  Jacen brings her intimate knowledge of military life to create a first rate series about life, service to the country, and love.  Each story normally has a slightly different focus on a certain aspect within the military for it’s main characters.  Could be making it through BUD/S training, trying to decide when to retire, military family life, or here, what happens what a soldier is so badly injured during a tour of duty it ends his military service.  What happens to him next?  What happens to all those lost men and women?

The VA is under fire and in the news for mishandling the files of so many soldiers in need of treatment.  And as Jacen’s story states the parking lots have become the locations where too many soldiers has taken their lives.  In Briar and all other of this author’s soldiers, Jacen brings our current military situation and our soldiers, male and female, vividly and memorably to life.

What is so remarkable about her stories is the depth of feeling that is relayed from page to reader.  There’s so much emotion here.  We run the gamut, from fear, pride in one’s duty and unit, to anger and depression, to hope, recovery, romance, and love.  We get the full spectrum.  We also get the accuracy of detail as to what it’s like to service in the military, from both sides.  From the soldier’s perspective and that of their family.  Strong stuff indeed.

And that’s in every story.

Here we’re with Briar on a tough journey.  But he’s got a full team of support behind him, lucky Briar.  Two connected groups of soldiers, one older and some getting ready for retirement as of this story, and a younger group in transition that appear in all the stories.  Each character a strong and individual personality on its own. That also includes their wives, husbands, and children who have also made a huge impact on this reader.  And on Briar and Randolph.

Watching not only the romance unfold, but the various story threads is such a pleasure.  It’s almost impossible to separate out one from another because they are so tightly wound up in each other.  Much like the support that is given within this tightly cohesive unit of family and friends, that become family.  They simply are whatever each other needs for each other.  The understanding of the perils as well as the strengths come through crystal clear.

In the end Briar and Randolph have made major decisions and another story looks to  unfold.  I can’t wait.

If you love contemporary romance, heartwarming stories full of great characters and realistic situations and relationships, look no further than the With Me series and Challenge Me (With Me #4) by Kris Jacen.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art by Kris Jacen.  I find this a very striking cover.  The half torso on the dark background draws your eye, the meaning clear once you dive into the story. Beautiful.

Sales Links: MLR Press |   Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 124 pages
Published August 31st 2018 by MLR Press
SeriesWith Me #4

With Me Series
Book #1 – Wait For Me – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Explore With Me – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Learn With Me – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Challenge Me – Amazon US | Amazon UK

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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