Review: Brothers In Arms (The Recon Diaries #1) by Kendall McKenna

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Rating: 4.5 stars

Brothers In ARms coverMarine Staff Sergeant Jonah Carver is a legend among the soldiers stationed in  Afghanistan and for good reason.  Jonah Carver is the Marine ideals personified, his past missions now part of Corp mystique. So Jonah is the natural choice when a high security mission arrives in Diyala Firm base, Diyala Province, Iraq.  A high level personage needs Bravo company for transportation and protection against the insurgents.  When that person is targeted and killed, a new mission is planned to hunt down the assassins and uncover the agents behind the  plot against the American military.

And that brings Jonah’s past back with the arrival of Kellan Reynolds in the task force created to investigate the assassination.  Kellan Reynolds is Jonah’s former Captain in Afghanistan.  They had one night of hot, unbelievable sex before Kellan left the Marines to become an advisor to the President and Jonah returned to his troop. Now the same attraction and sexual tension is back as though it never left.  But the joint mission requires their full attention and the resumption of their relationship takes a back seat to the investigation.

When Kellan is kidnapped by the insurgents, their mission is thrown into disarray.  Jonah and his company must risk everything to get Kellan back, not only for the mission but for their future together as well.

After reading Strength of the Pack, I had to go out and see what else Kendall McKenna had written.  The book I found, Brothers In Arms,  did not disappoint the high expectations left by Strength of the Pack.  Shorter in length, this book contains the same memorable characters and vivid descriptions of the locales that I marveled at in the previous book.  Really, this author has so many strengths I don’t know where to start.

Characterizations.  Absolute perfection.  McKenna creates these wonderful Marines, gritty, human, vulnerable and brave.  She gives them dialog to speak so believable that I swear I could hear them in my dreams and puts them through events so authentic, so real that I expected to see them appear on the nightly news.  How’s that for great writing.  These men reek of sweat, and dust, and the smell of gun oil.  They are tired, the heat is sweltering, and the enemy is everywhere.  I truly felt as though I was in the middle of the platoon in Diyala Province.

The romance is equally suited to the men involved.  Don’t expect any flowers, that ain’t happening.  But the emotions, however internalized, are as real as the men involved.  I really appreciated that.  I loved that non verbal communication thing that happened between them.  They knew each other so well that at some point, speech became unnecessary until they had the luxury of time to spend with each other, and then the sex is incendiary.

Narrative and exposition are as amazing and detailed as her characterizations.  I felt as though I was embedded in the company and knew these men as intimately as their Sergeant did.  It was both a pleasure and pain to meet and understand these men and women because McKenna made their situations as authentic as their real life counterparts.  I will say no more.

Why not 5 stars?  Primarily due to the story length.  I wish it and the resolution had been longer, I certainly wanted more.  If you are looking for just romance or erotica, this might not be the book for you.  But if you are looking for meticulous writing, beautifully articulated characters and as real a setting as any I have read recently, then please get this book and be prepared to meet a couple you won’t soon forget.  Lucky for us a sequel is on its way.  I can’ t wait, Neither should you.

Cover Art by Jared Rackler. Just as superb as the story contained within.  Loved it.

Kendall McKenna. Brothers in Arms. MLR Press LLC.