Wayward by Kimber Delaney (Book 1 of the Soldier’s Heart Series)

Genre: Military Romance/Suspense Romance

The family guilt and secrets that have haunted Audrey Linser from childhood have become her armor, her excuse to keep people away. This independence has been an asset during her Army career as a CID agent in the field, until a close call ends her solo days. Now, she’s stuck at Fort Huachuca, the home of intelligence training and her childhood ghosts. All she wants is to leave—until she meets Simon.

Simon Carwell was a military brat before enlisting in the Army. He’s spent the last couple years weighed down by his own guilt after tragedy struck in Afghanistan. With some help from friends and a direct order, he’s finally getting help and coming to terms with what happened. Facing those demons has him wanting more from life than the next thrill.

Their attraction is strong, but so are their issues. And while they’re working through those, they have an even bigger problem to solve—

Who is trying to kill Audrey and why?

When I first was approached by Kimber to beta read Wayward, I had no clue the incredible journey I was about to embark on. The first book in the series, Wayward introduces us to Audrey and Simon, both damaged from past experiences that is realized through Kimber’s innate ability to channel what the reader needs to know or see. Sensitive subjects, like that of PTSD, abandonment, depression, and trust issues, are delicately handled and shine a light on the plights of not just the characters in this book but also those who battle these sorts of things. Every sentence is strategically formulated and placed to carry the readers through the process of healing with Simon and Audrey. She plays the heartstrings like a professional harpist.

While each character you meet shines in their own way, giving you a clear idea of their personalities, none shine brighter than the lead characters. The love-making scenes between the two leads are tastefully done. The balance between what the author shows us and leaves up to our own imagination is a perfect example of her knowledge of her craft and specific genre. Never once did I feel like it was too much nor overreached.

It is my belief that great works pull the reader in, making it an emotional experience. Kimber does this in spades via grounded realism and pacing. You begin to feel attached to each character and living in the moments with them. There was no part of the story that pulled me out, causing me to lose that close connection. The mystery aspects felt real world based and I even found myself trying to help solve the case in my best Sherlock Holmes manner. It says a lot about this book when I, in my infinite ADHD spoiler superpower, am whammied with the plot twist. I absolutely did not seeing it coming which lends itself to being one of my favorite reads of all time.

If you are looking for an engaging romance read that does mystery and realism like no other, this is the book for you! You will not be disappointed and left wanting more.

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