For some reason, I have been consumed by military romances this Summer, especially those that seem to hit close to home. These stories feature men and women who have left active duty military service, returned to the US and reintegrated into civilian life. The majority of the characters are suffering the effects of PTSD, and other physical, mental, and/or emotional trauma. Perhaps this has been my way of working through some of my issues, as the wife of a former serviceman with PTSD. Or maybe I just like spicy, erotica featuring former military members and the people love them. Either way, anything that brings more attention to men and women who served, and continue to serve, is ok by me.
The latest story I read was Ann Mayburn’s “Still.” TEAR-JERKING SCORCHER.
On the surface Michelle Sapphire was not a female character I would typically like, as she was the typical beautiful, tall, blonde, rich, smart doctor. (Meh). However, she quickly established herself as a multifaceted woman I would want to know, as a professional (Doctor) and as a friend. While she was deployed to Afghanistan as a Navy doctor, she met Gunnery Sergeant Wyatt Callahan and they established a strong “brothers-in-arms” bond.
Upon returning to the U.S. Michelle and Wyatt were reunited suddenly when she bailed him out of jail, following an event triggered by his PTSD. She gave Wyatt two options: go home and never speak to her again, or agree to live with her for a month, as her submissive.
Wyatt accepted the challenge, and together they worked through their relationship, survivor’s guilt and commitment issues. Wyatt learned how to trust Michelle and their connection. Michelle, a Domme, learned to embrace another submissive into her heart and life. She dominated their scenes, but always ensured that Wyatt felt safe and cared for. The more they opened up to each other, the hotter the action got, and the deeper their emotions ran.
This was one of the most realistic depictions of PTSD, in men and women, I have read. Wyatt already respected Michelle, as a higher ranking Officer, so stepping into the role of her sub was a logical transition. By using the D/s relationship, Ms. Mayburn fully incorporated Michelle and Wyatt’s existing (non-physical or emotional) Officer/NCO connection to help each other through the realities of PTSD. It only helped to strengthen their D/s bond because they already trusted each other.
At the end of the book, Ms. Mayburn included a list of resources for service members and their families/friends that provided support services for everything from PTSD and other health concerns, to relocation, and homelessness. This was already an emotional read for me, and seeing the list at the end (in addition to Ms. Mayburn’s note to her readers at the beginning of the book) made me cry. She absolutely understood.
I hope Ms. Mayburn writes Yuki and James’ story, soon!