Luka's never really gotten over Reese, her first love. Back in high school, they went on a few dates, but then he abruptly ended things and enlisted in the military. Plenty of years have passed since then, but while the memories are more bitter than sweet, Luka's heart still skips a beat when she runs into him again.
Reese has always cared about Luka, and while he wanted to see more of her back in high school, his brutal father's threats brought that young relationship to an end and sent him packing off to war. Now his dad's stowed away in a VA hospital, and Reese's military service is over, but he's still not quite ready to face his first love.
Judging Covers: Well, the visual theme is consistent, but it's still pretty generic and spells lust more than romance. The series itself is pretty fun, and it's definitely filled with romance, so I guess I just wish the covers were nicer and reflected that better.
The Verdict: The relationship between these two was sad and sweet. It was clear how much they cared about and wanted each other, but as teenagers, they couldn't call the shots, and as adults, they've both been dealt some hardships and are wary of chasing the dream. Their present story started out in an interesting way — detailing the end of the previous book from the perspective of two characters previously mentioned but not focused on. The time was the same, but the importance of events was very different, showing what was going on in Luka's life as Sydney's new relationship was solidifying in the background. It sounds like it should have been boringly repetitive, but because Luka and Sydney were experiencing such different things at the moment, it was actually very interesting to see some of the same time pass by in this way.
Luka seems to live a rather unextraordinary small-town life. She works at the local salon and shares a home with her three rowdy brothers. It's clear the siblings share an incredibly close relationship, something that is explained more clearly in subsequent books. But Luka's not had any real luck in love, and when she spots Reese in town, she can't help but want to spend some time with him, even though he broke her heart with virtually no explanation years ago.
Reese saw plenty of ugliness in the world long before he ever saw a battlefield. His abusive father made his life hell, but Reese managed to keep his head above water until being all but forced to join the military. Now he struggling with his memories of the war along with his fear of genetics — specifically his fear that he will somehow become his father. He already has rage issues, incidents that resemble blackouts, and he doesn't want to inflict that life on Luka.
Luka and Reese take their relationship at warp speed, but that just means they falter and have to face the consequences of never really taking things out before. Reese can't resist her but is determined that they remain friends, while Luka can't say no to him and feels herself losing her heart along the way. They're both so lost, with Reese afraid of allowing himself to be in a relationship and Luka getting her heart broken every time he calls her a friend. I'm not sure I ever completely understood Reese's certainty that he was destined to be the cruel bastard that his father was, but I certainly understood Luka's inability to protect her heart from him.
Like the previous book in the series, this one is short, which meant getting to the eventual happy ending wasn't dragged out by unnecessary drama, but it also meant that just as soon as they hit a good point, it was over. I should also note that (having read all the others in the series by now), condoms don't make an appearance in these books. Normally, it wouldn't even stand out to me, but for characters who meet, quickly make it to the bedroom, and then live happily ever after in the span of just over a hundred pages, especially when those characters don't discuss history or health or even know all that much about each others' pasts, it screamed risk. In any case, Soldier's Choice was a great read with plenty of interesting characters and lots of steamy romance.