I have read many good books but occasionally a great book comes along. Well, I have another one to add to the great list. Cheryl Adnams, Common Ground. Why have I done this? Because it was so real to me. Common Ground is the story of Rachel and Tate and the battles they face and the causes of it. Depression. PTSD. Alcoholism. It's about their fears, guilt, insecurities and the ways we try to hide all of this even from the ones we love . . . But this was not a doom or gloom book. It made me also laugh and fall in love with the characters, and that by trusting and loving the ones who love you, you can start to heal and have hope. Yep, GREAT BOOK.
Loved this book! Love this author!
This is the first book I read from Cheryl Adnams, and I am happy to say it won’t be my last. After reading the prologue, I wasn’t sure I was ready for this story. War. Insurgents. Risk. I kept with it and was glad I did. It begins pleasantly enough with Lily as she prepares for her wedding day. As the story develops we learn more about love, family antics, sacrifice, skirting the truth and learning to trust largely through the eyes of Lily’s best friend Rachel. It’s obvious that his whole story isn’t being told because of fear and risk, but as Tate gets closer to Rachel, he learns trust can be granted if you extend it first… you can then look for common ground. This story goes beyond “just a love story.” Having so many personalities in a relatively tight physical space … each bringing their own baggage, secrets and expectations isn’t even half of it. There are heavy issues, including consequences of war, which are woven throughout which takes the characters even deeper. One of the best features of this story for me was the ever-changing narrator. Seeing the same scene from various perspectives helped me really connect with each of the characters and develop an understanding of why they did what they did… and what they might do next. Overall, I liked the story for the rawness of Rachel. Her struggle to keep herself just sane enough and just protected enough not to be a burden on those she loved. She is a character whom we’ve all played (at varying degrees), yet her story is one you hope no one has to live through in its entirety. Then to have Tate, who is a step or two ahead of Rachel, find her to be his muse... his strength… just speaks to power she has, even though she feels powerless. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my review nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinion I express here is my own.
There are still a lot of readers out there who tend to shy away from the romance genre thinking that it’s all “fluff” with protagonists jumping in and out of bed with each other with no depth to the story. As a reviewer, I feel that those readers just need to find the right book and this latest by Cheryl Adnams, could possibly change their mind, if they give it a chance because she is an author who writes with substance. Cheryl doesn’t write romance inasmuch as it’s boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy and they live happily ever after. Yes, her romances (like most) do have happy endings but it’s her characters that have so much to offer us in terms of real life issues – in this novel, it is PTSD, alcoholism, survivor’s guilt and the profound emotional impact on both the sufferers and those closest to them. In a departure from her Muller’s Field winery series, Cheryl brings us Common Ground in which she gives us the story of Rachel Raymond, a war correspondent who has returned from the frontline in Afghanistan, broken not only by the things that she has seen but the injuries she sustained from an exploding IED - stark reminders of the human cost of bearing witness in an increasingly hostile environment. Returning to the Howell’s home in the Riverland in South Australia for the wedding of her best friend Lily, Rachel isn’t looking for anything more than time to heal her shattered soul and body. Suffering with debilitating nightmares and fatigue from the lack of sleep, she is exhausted – physically, mentally and emotionally – and can’t seem to find her way out from the chasm that threatens to suck her right in. Her mental health is in tatters but, for the sake of her friend Lily’s special day, she hides all this from those she loves. Until she meets the groom’s oldest friend! Fireman, Tate Cassidy, hasn’t been lucky in relationships and prefers to keep the fairer sex at arms-length since his break-up. After suffering his own trauma in the line of duty, he, too is healing. He is drawn to Rachel who brings out the sensitive side of him and, while it’s taken more than a year for him to make the decision to go back to work, witnessing the strength she displays for the benefit of others while being keenly aware that there are deeper issues at play, is what allows him to put his own life and recovery into perspective. They definitely share common ground but he just can’t seem to break through the barriers she has erected so that he can help her through her latent trauma. If only she can overcome her reluctance to seek help so that her healing process can begin. It’s been a few days since I lay this book down, but the subject-matter of this latest novel by Cheryl Adnams continues to haunt my thoughts. She definitely doesn’t disappoint as she brings the larger issues to life and, by the time I turned the last page, my emotions were all over the place. Whilst the Prologue efficiently sets the scene for the tone and mood of the novel, Cheryl (as with most contemporary romance authors) has structured her novel from the points of view of Rachel and Tate and she has also made use of some fantastic dialogue (in particular the scenes involving Tate, her nightmares and the fireworks) that both moves the story forward and enhances the characterisation of both her main protagonist and her secondary characters, allowing the reader to get the “bigger picture”. She writes with an assured confidence that exudes from the pages of this novel and the sheer complexity of her characters shows that she has gotten to know them inside and out. Given this and, while I loved the relationship that grew between Rachel and Tate, it was the pure minefield of emotions Rachel found herself dealing with and the utter tenderness that Tate showed towards her that saw my eyes constantly being flushed with tears. Cheryl's research about the situations that both our men and women in the armed forces as well as journalists find themselves in and the impact of the sights and sounds they are surrounded with is impeccable and a few times I caught myself trying to reach out and help Rachel get through her pain as her vivid nightmares and flashbacks stirred something deep within me. In order to keep this review as concise as possible, I have only touched on a few of the elements that Cheryl has utilised but, as a whole, the result is an absorbing story about two people not quite sure how they’re going to reach the end of that long road to recovery which touched my heart. In the grander scheme of things though, this is a story about the pain that a PTSD sufferer can hide in private along with the secrets that they are too ashamed to talk about. All in all this was an extremely satisfying reading experience from an Aussie author who has earned pride of place on my watchlist!
Marcia B, Book Muster Down Under
May 1, 2015
RHA eBooks Adult
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