Desert Isle Keeper
After I read Once in Paris by Diana Palmer, a book that treated an older man/younger woman romance in a way I found extremely distasteful, I picked up Rachel Lee’s Lost Warriors. This book is an excellent study of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in a Vietnam veteran. Lost Warriors also treats the love between a 44 year old man and a 24 year old woman with sympathy and understanding.
When she was 16, Wendy Tate had a crush on Billy Joe Yuma. The problem was, Billy Joe was often in her father’s jail charged with being drunk and disorderly. Billy Joe was a Vietnam veteran who came back home suffering from a bad case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which cost him his wife, his home, his job and almost his life. While Billy Joe has recovered, he is still emotionally very fragile. Billy Joe flies the Conard County rescue helicopter and tends to the needs of some homeless veterans whose PTSD will not allow them to live in normal society – they live in the mountains around Conard County.
Wendy Tate has come back home to take a job as the flight nurse with the Conard County Emergency Response Team. For the past six years, Wendy has worked in the trauma unit at a large Los Angeles hospital and also worked for the Veteran’s Administration in some of their hospitals. Wendy has seen all the horrors that can be seen, but although not the starry-eyed youngster she was six years ago, she has not become callous and unloving. Wendy is a little more hard headed than she used to be, but she still retains her loving heart.
There have been some break-ins in ranches and homes in the county lately and some of the local hot-heads blame the homeless veterans. Almost immediately, Wendy gets caught up in the problem and she and Billy Joe spend a lot of time together. It soon becomes very clear that the attraction between the two is still there, and that Wendy is no longer just a young girl with a childish crush. Still, Billy Joe is terribly afraid to get involved. He knows himself and knows that he is still a wounded man, but as events progress, Billy Joe realizes that Wendy has the strength and the wisdom to love him even with all his problems.
This is a wonderful book. I was moved to tears by Billy Joe Yuma’s torment as he struggled to stay sane and functioning. The descriptions of the veterans who lost their fight with PTSD and cannot live in society are just heartbreaking. As for Wendy, she may be young in years, but she is old in experience. She is no Pollyanna and knows exactly what it means to love a man like Billy Joe Yuma, but she is strong and compassionate enough to try.