If you’ve enjoyed the Hard Ink series by Laura Kaye, you absolutely won’t want to miss the first book in her new Warrior Fight Club series, Fighting for Everything, as she gives us another incredible soldier to hold close to our hearts.
I have been a big fan of Laura Kaye’s since I first read about Nick Rixey and Becca Merritt and the heart-wrenching, thrilling Hard Ink series began. And I could not be more excited to see her step back into writing more kickass soldier heroes, especially since watching them heal and learn to adjust to post-war life can be so beautiful and rewarding.
Fighting for Everything is the story of Noah Cortez and Kristina Moore and their suddenly not so platonic friendship.
Noah Cortez made it home from war, but not entirely in one piece, and definitely not the same man who left. Thanks to a traumatic brain injury, his hearing, sight, and equilibrium aren’t what they used to be, but that isn’t the biggest struggle he’s having as he tries to settle back into civilian life. Getting a handle on anger and other out of control emotions continues to baffle him, and when he suddenly finds himself attracted to his best friend in the world, he truly starts to lose his life’s balance.
While Noah is doing his best to settle in, his best and oldest friend, Kristina Moore, is trying to find a way to support her bestie as he tries to find his new normal. Should she push him to talk like he always did for her when she needed it? Should she give him space to find his own way or be there for him at every turn? The last thing she expected was to find herself lusting after him, but he’s a different guy now, and there’s something there that wasn’t there before.
First of all, it has to be said, this book is a different kind of story than the Hard Ink series that came before. It has all the wonderful heart and hope that you want from a Laura Kaye romance, but rather than having a team focused on one goal as love finds them, Noah and Kristina are on a path all their own.
I’m sure we’ve all felt attracted to someone we’ve counted as a friend. It happens. So, seeing Kristina and Noah battling with themselves over their sudden physical attraction is all too relatable. Growing up alongside each other, they didn’t really give the idea of them as a couple serious thought. It isn’t until they’ve spent a good amount of time apart as adults, and had life-changing experiences, that their relationship gets thrown a curveball.
Upon starting this story, I immediately worried about how quickly Kristina falls for Noah. He is in such a vulnerable place and is so unbalanced that one huge shift seems like it could send him spiraling. I worried that she would beat Noah to the finish line and feel abandoned as he just barely makes it out of the starting gate. However, I also believed that her love and devotion to helping him could be the thing that kept him from falling victim to his new normal.
It’s impossible to read a story like Noah’s and not think about the suicide rate amongst veterans. We’ve seen it in movies and TV, we’ve heard songs about it on the radio, and we’ve seen news reports about the horrific lack of resources for our country’s veterans once they return home. Since this story is romance, we don’t have to worry too much that specific bit of realism (I’ve never been more thankful to have a happy ending guaranteed), but knowing that so many soldiers resort to suicide makes it clear that not all of them find their way back from the brink.
Watching Noah learn how to deal with the hardships that make up his world is not easy. I won’t pretend that I wasn’t absolutely sobbing by the end of this book. I wanted to reach out and hug this man. I, like Kristina, wanted to be able to do something, anything, to take this load from him. He’s a good man who fought a good fight and lost a lot of friends in the process, and then returns home to learn he has a whole new battle to try and win. Who wouldn’t want to save him? Who wouldn’t want to shoulder the load for him? He’s just survived war only to embark on a journey that will probably prove to be his hardest yet.
While Noah’s story may have really struck me hard in this book, Kristina is one hell of a heroine. She doesn’t back down from Noah when he’s trying to push her away. She stands up for herself and what is best for her when she needs to. She does everything she can to be there for her best friend, but also sees when things might not be everything she hoped. Noah’s story wouldn’t be possible without Kristina, because she gives him something to strive for. She is the sunshine he needs to see as the rain continues to beat on his back.
One of the things I love the most about Laura Kaye’s stories is that while her male characters are always so layered and complex, the female characters are never weak. They might not have the physical bulk of one of the male soldier-types, but they are always a force.
Noah’s struggle with weakness throughout Fighting for Everything is encouraging. Seeing him find a way to overcome his feelings of inadequacy and failure reminded me that no matter what battle each of us is fighting, we need to give it our everything in order to find our way through. Noah may have been fighting for a specific “Everything,” but he really was fighting for everything. Fighting for his life, for love, for a tomorrow, for a future. And that’s a battle that we will all fight in some way at some point in our lives. Thanks to Laura Kaye’s wounded warrior, I will always have a friend to look to when the fight seems like too much.