"Love is a battlefield."
Discharged under Don't Ask Don't Tell, former Marine major Cole Hammond is struggling to find a new identity. But PTSD casts a pall on everything, and his hard-nosed, homophobic father can t even bear to look him in the eye. To top it all off, he 's pretty sure he 's flunking out of law school.
Marc Sullivan is a kind, sensitive romance author-slash-waiter with a thing for men in uniform. Cole 's not wearing his anymore, but there 's no mistaking the warrior Marc meets in the diner one rainy afternoon. Cole 's sexy smile and Carolina drawl prove irresistible, but Marc 's played this game before, and he always loses. Once a Marine, always a Marine, and if there 's one thing Marc knows about such men, it 's that they all leave him in the end. It doesn t help that Cole 's practically closeted in public, or that he refuses to seek treatment for his PTSD.
But like any good Marine, Cole 's willing to fight for what matters. And like the characters in Marc 's stories, he 's certain that if they try just hard enough, together they can find their own happily ever after.
The former Don't Ask Don't Tell policy is the catalyst for a tough Marine to change his life completely after meeting a waiter/romance writer in this intensely emotional story full of angst and steamy sexual interludes. What starts out as casual for both of them soon evolves into something unexpectedly intense that leads them both down a rocky road to their HEA.
After being forced out of the Marines for admitting his sexuality Cole feels adrift. Being a Marine took up over half his life and he's having trouble adjusting to civilian life. Unacceptance from his parents, and the rest of his hometown, along with bouts of PTSD has made his life one endless abyss of meaningless sexual encounters and a lack of faith in his ability to get through school. Meeting Marc steadies him and gives him a reason to succeed and talk through his issues, he wants Marc to be proud of him and not leave him. But Marc has been hurt before by Marines who love him and leave him and keeps thinking the same will happen with Cole. At times it felt like he was purposely pushing Cole to leave him. If Cole didn't act the way Marc thought he should about their relationship then he thought Cole was getting ready to leave him. These acts were juvenile and added unnecessary stress to a man already carrying more than enough stress. I could forgive him though as he brought true happiness to Cole and encouraged him in many ways to better himself.
Cole was the perfect boyfriend, sweet yet sexy and charming. Marc didn't give me those same kind of warm feelings but I still admired that he wanted only the best for Cole and tried in many ways to ease his pain. Their sexual interludes were fraught with sexual tension and yet showed a playful side. These scenes were numerous, but that's the same for all new relationships, but nicely spaced throughout the story. An emotional upheaval for Cole late in the book comes out of nowhere to again put their newfound love in jeopardy but thankfully this issue is quickly resolved and an immensely satisfying conclusion quickly follows.
From two mostly likable main characters, to a colorful female sidekick, to its numerous sexy scenes Once a Marine left me fully satisfied and wanting a Marine of my very own. This is another winner in the career of Cat Grant who writes heart wrenching stories so well and has me clamoring for her next new release.
My rating for this is a B+
*I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.