One of my favorite themes or tropes, if you will, is the story of the veteran and life after the service. A. E. Wasp has the ability to include the scars and dents along with the heart and soul of the veteran’s life. In Paper Hearts, Veteran’s Affairs, Book 4, the author leaves little to the imagination.
While working his employer’s booth at the Denver Pride Parade in Denver, ex-Marine Benito viewed a tall, well-formed African-American man with dreadlocks who was drawn from Benito ‘Benny’ Quintana’s profile of the perfect man. “Damn but the guy looked familiar”. Benny should not be in a bar after celebrating 287 nights of sobriety but this is a celebration of life and the celebration became much more exciting when his “Mr. Tall Dark and most handsome” suddenly appeared next to him at the bar. After a close encounter of the oh so intimate kind, Benny has an even bigger surprise. The man, Michael, reminisces “you have the same name as my best friend from high school”……
It’s been a long time since high school and both boys, now men, have changed. Michael is not ‘out’ but this man who reminded him of his best friend ‘Benny’ was both the catalyst and the beneficiary of his ‘first time’.
Benny and Mikey have both suffered great tragedy. Both have secrets and very complicated lives. It’s pretty hard for Benny to explain how a Marine with two Purple Hearts is discharged with “other than honorable’ paper. Mikey, never married and not ‘out’ has a 6-year-old daughter with very conservative grandparents who would love to take her from him. Each man has a strong need for the other, for the best friend of the past and the man of today.
The author’s emotionally stirring Veteran Affairs series includes linked but standalone complicated love stories. The setting is a fictitious town, Red Deer, Colorado, a small town with a healthy veteran population and even more, a healthy gay veteran population.
Themes of wartime injuries including TBI (traumatic brain injury), PTSD, therapy dogs, extreme loss and big, big love make this series and this story, Benny and Mikey’s story, a wonderful reading adventure. I’m begging for the next installment. It is that good.