Title: A Soldier’s Wish
Series: The Christmas Angel Collection
Author: N.R. Walker
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 224 Pages
Category: Holiday Romance
At a Glance: Before I started this book, I expected to be giddily gushing about it come review time. While I did enjoy the guys together, and appreciated the emotional impact of the story, I was unfortunately still a bit disappointed.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: The year is 1969…
Gary Fairchild is proud to be a hippie college student, and he protests the Vietnam War because he believes in love and peace. To him, it isn’t just a counterculture movement—it’s a way of life. When tickets to the Aquarium Exposition—3 Days of Peace & Music, or Woodstock, as it was better known, go on sale, there’s no way he isn’t going.
Richard Ronsman is a sheltered farm boy who lives in the shadow of his overbearing father. He’s hidden his darkest secret to earn his father’s love, but nothing is ever good enough—not even volunteering for the Vietnam War. And with just a few days left before he’s deployed, he’s invited by a striking hippie to join him at a music festival.
Three days of music, drugs, rain, mud, and love forged a bond between these two very different men that would shape the rest of their lives. They share dreams and fears, and when Richard is shipped off to war, they share letters and love. For Richard’s first Christmas home, he is gifted a special angel ornament that just might make a soldier’s wish come true.
Review: N.R. Walker’s A Soldier’s Wish is the fifth book in the Christmas Angel series, a collection of stories by seven different authors, which all share in common a gold Christmas angel ornament that seems to hold a bit of magic. In Walker’s book, the year is 1969, and Gary Fairchild and his friends are on their way to Woodstock. When they stop at a diner for some breakfast on their way to the festival, Gary sees a young man sitting by himself and goes to talk to him. As they’re chatting, something comes over Gary and he finds himself offering the man their extra ticket to the show and inviting him to come along with them. Little does Gary know that what is intended to be a simple, kind gesture will turn out to be a life-changing decision.
Richard Ronsman led a very sheltered, repressed life until his eye-opening weekend at Woodstock. All he really knew was working on his parents’ farm, going to church, and hiding his true self from his parents. He was so desperate to hide himself, and to prove he was someone his father could be proud of, that he even enlisted in the war. Richard didn’t know it at the time, but if he hadn’t accepted a stranger’s invitation in the diner that day, he would have gone off to war never knowing that another life was possible. Never knowing that it was ok to be who he was meant to be, and that he was worthy of being loved. This bit, from Richard’s first letter to Gary when he was on the way to Saigon, killed me:
I wanted you to know how much this last weekend meant to me. I’m so used to being miserable on the inside, not being true to myself. But you showed me a whole world I never knew existed. You showed me where I’m supposed to belong. By taking a chance and saying hello to me in that diner, you changed my life, and I’ll be forever grateful.
In fact, every single one of his letters killed me. As did Gary’s replies. Watching them fall in love through their letters was by far the best part of the story. Their letters were so open and honest and vulnerable, I loved how they got to know each other, and started building their life together through their correspondence. As a reader, I felt myself also getting pretty attached to them through their letters, and even cried pretty hard at one section during Richard’s deployment.
While I did enjoy the guys together, and appreciated the emotional impact of the story, I was unfortunately still a bit disappointed. I wanted more of a Christmas feel, and it just wasn’t there. I mean, I figured it might get heavy in spots—and it did—but I think I expected it to also be more of a swoony romance than it was. I also realize that my expectations are my issue. Heh. And, others will enjoy even more the quiet romance these two had. The writing was good—I thought Walker did a very good job of capturing the time period—and I did like where they ended up.
Before I started this book, I expected to be giddily gushing about it come review time. I have LOVED the previous N.R. Walker books I’ve read, and I completely love the premise of The Christmas Angel series. But something was just missing here for me. Some little spark of something that would bump it up from good to great. Because don’t get me wrong, it was good. Like I said, I adored both Richard and Gary, and I loved the emotional moments in the book; I think I was mainly disappointed that the Christmas Angel didn’t come into play a bit sooner. A Soldier’s Wish is a beautiful story that’s well worth reading, but it was heavier on the somber tones and lighter on the Christmas magic than I think I was expecting.
You can buy A Soldier’s Wish here:
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