Tuesday, March 4, 2014

[Triple Review]: "It's Always Been You"

It's Always Been You  by Jessica Scott
Publisher: Forever (March 4, 2014) 
Series: Coming Home, 5
Genre: Contemporary Romance

She plays by the rules . . . 

Captain Ben Teague is many things: a tough soldier, a loyal friend, and a bona fide smart-ass. He doesn't have much tolerance for BS, which is why he's mad as hell when a trusted colleague and mentor is brought up on charges that can't possibly be true. He's even more frustrated with by-the-book lawyer Major Olivia Hale. But there's something simmering beneath her icy reserve--and Ben just can't resist turning up the heat . . .

. . . and he's determined to break them

The only thing riskier than mixing business with pleasure is enjoying it . . . and Olivia can't resist locking horns--and lips--with Ben. He's got more compassion in his little finger than any commander she's ever met, a fact that makes him a better leader than he realizes. But when the case that brought them together awakens demons from Olivia's past, she will have to choose between following orders--or her heart . . .

Where to Buy*:
More Info:

Our Reviews of Jessica Scott's other books:

Because of You, #1 (Kame)
Because of You, #1 (TBQ)
Anything For You, #1.5 (TBQ)
Until There Was You, #2 (TBQ)
I'll Be Home for Christmas, #2.5 (TBQ, Kame and Pat) ✦ Discussion
Back To You, #3 (TBQ, Kame and Pat) Discussion
All for You, #4 (TBQ, Kame and Pat) Discussion

Our Reviews

Kame's Review:

He was going to be working with Olivia Hale, and he’d have to be dead not to be intrigued by a woman like her. A woman who was reserved. Withdrawn. Not cold.

And that made him curious. Deeply so. She wore the rules and regulations like a shield.

And seeing how Ben felt about the rules and regulations, that didn’t exactly set them up to be buddies.

Ben Teague has never wanted to command soldiers, but he finds himself given the task. At times he hasn’t even been sure he wanted to be a soldier any more. This isn’t going to be an easy command either; Ben is one of the commanders tasked with cleaning up the mess their predecessors left behind, a battalion that is battling corruption. To do this he must work with Olivia Hale, the by the book lawyer. Sure some of these soldiers have no hope, but some have Ben.   

“You want to save him.”

His mouth pressed into a flat line. “There are worse things for a commander to want” he said roughly.

She took a single step toward him. It was stupid for him to care this much, this deeply about a soldier he couldn’t save.

“You have to know you can’t.” she whispered. The urge to curl her fingers over his heart, to reach out to him, was damn near overwhelming.

He swallowed, his movement violent and filled with hurt. “Maybe I have to try,” he whispered. 

“Otherwise, what’s the point of all this power and responsibility?”

I have never seen two characters that just should be together but can't get out of their heads enough to realize it. Ben is consumed by the fact that he doesn’t want to command; it is all he can focus on.  As his reasons are revealed I started to admire him more. Ben will be a great commander. He has the best interest of his soldiers at heart, even if it goes against how things have always been done. He is fiercely loyal to those who have earned his loyalty. He has some great dialog and made me chuckle many a time. I had already fallen in love with Ben’s character in Reza’s book; any friend of Reza is a favorite of mine. Olivia was a harder character for me to warm up to; and I think that has all to do with how wonderful she was created by Jessica Scott. Her character was written so true. Olivia doesn’t let anyone in, even the reader. Olivia is battling her past; a past she does not want to share. She is closed off emotionally to many and is focused only on making sure justice is served. She is very concerned about the safety and justice for the families involved, one soldier’s family member hurt and not protected it one too many for Olivia. Jessica Scott does not lay out the reason for Olivia’s tunnel vision immediately; she slowly unravels it, and we learn right along with Ben what drives Olivia. As Olivia’s hard shell melts, Ben finds the wonderful caring and incredibly driven woman underneath. Their spark is hot, and they seem to have a deep connection. In the end I was convinced that Ben is the only one who can open up Olivia’s heart to love.

As with any “Coming Home” book, the secondary characters are just as expertly crafted as the main characters. In this case we catch up with some past favorite characters and meet some new favorites. Our glimpse at Emily and Reza was something I was so happy to see. At the end of their book I was so concerned about his sobriety and in this book we see him working at it one day at a time. When we meet a new character there is often a hint at a back story we will learn about in a future book. Sorren is going to be my next obsession. He has a past with a lot of pain, and is unsure on how to proceed with his future. He has concerns about Ben and his ability to lead the soldiers, but he soon realizes Ben is a different kind of leader.

“Did you have to go out of your way to piss him off?” Sorren asked after a while. 

“I make a special effort with him.” 

“Any particular reason why?”

“Our history is long and distinguished, but primarily because he takes pleasure in being a pretentious asshole and I just like to remind him that he’s not all that special.”

It took a while for me to start this book.  Normally when a Jessica Scott book is on my Kindle I rush to devour it, but with this one I took my time. I knew it was going to be the last in this series for a number of months; I wanted to savor it. And savor it I did.


Pat's Review

I've been searching my brain trying to think of an adjective I haven't already used in reviewing the Coming Home series.  Ms. Scott's books make you feel anger, tears, and laughter.  Most of all, she shows us how love can be found in the most difficult places, between two people who are often at odds with each other.  And it all works!

Captain Ben Teague is spending his time stateside before the next deployment in his usual manner. Spouting insults, sarcasm and banter to all, officers and friends alike. It all changed when Lt. Colonel Gilliad announced in a room full of officers, "Congratulations. Every one of you in this room will be taking command in less than a month." Ben was in the room! There had to be a mistake.  Every commander in the battalion had been relieved of duty, and these men were the new command. The army had taken on the task of ridding the divisions of criminals, drug addicts, and malingerers.  Ben was going to be in charge of that?  He couldn't command, you had to believe in what you were doing to command. Ben had stopped believing.

Major Olivia Hale watched Captain Teague anger at the news of his new Command post. That was unusual, most officers were excited to command.  There had to be a story behind his anger. She was soon to learn a lot more about Captain Ben Teague. She is a rules and regulations type attorney, while Ben was not a fan of rules and regulations.  Olivia was in charge of the legal aspects of the discharge of selected soldiers for their crimes.  She met a brick wall of resistance with Ben. He wanted to help his men, not kick them out.  Olivia had her own history of heartache from making the wrong decision. She wasn't going to let that happen again, in spite of Ben's convictions. She admired his loyalty, though thought it was misplaced, and tried to help in small ways, while still holding to her belief in right and wrong.

Olivia and Ben learn that they can have very different opinions on a subject, but can  still work together for a common goal.  Secrets are exchanged and in that process they learn how to love. Something neither of them thought possible.  Ms. Scott has written another contemporary military romance with multiple aspects to enjoy.  I enjoyed it very much.


TBQ's Review

I know that when I pick up one of Jessica Scott's novels, I will be entertained, I will feel the characters' pain, and I will crack a few smiles. It's simply a given! And while It's Always Been You did live up to those expectations, I will admit that it's probably my least favorite book in the series so far. However, that is NOT to say that I disliked the book, or that it's terrible. It's not; it's still really, really good!

For some reason, I just did not connect as much with Ben and Olivia as I did previous couples. I'm not sure why, exactly, and perhaps it could be purely due to my current mood while reading this, or due to the fact that I read books 3 and 4 within the last two months. Sometimes I can get series burn out by reading the books too close together.

I enjoyed the peek into Ben's new position, and how much work it entails. I'll admit that, yes, I do sometimes get lost in the line of command and who is who, but that is not Scott's fault. If anything, she makes it easier to understand compared to some military romances I have read. The simple fact is I'm not in the military, so no matter how many books I read, I will never know the inner workings of it. :)

Like with every other book, Scott managed to grab my heart and twist it, more than a few times. I wondered if Ben could fit into his new role, if Olivia could begin to heal from her own past. I wanted to give them both a hug, considering everything they've been through. I was worried about Escoberra and Zittoro, too. And of course I still worried about Reza. Now I'm curious about Sorren and Foster.

It's Always Been You is another solid installment in an amazing series! Even if it's not my “favorite”, it is still a damn good read; I can't stop recommending this series enough! Remember, they are best read in order, but once you start, you won't be able to stop. There's a certain crack in Scott's writing, and I'm a happy addict.

“Wow, you're going all caveman. I'm not sure if I should swoon or wring out my panties.”

“Did you just make a joke?” Ben froze and frowned. His nostrils flared from the mix of too much adrenaline and the sudden lack of an appropriate place to put it. “When did we reach the joke-making phase of this relationship? I thought we were still at the swiping hostility phase.”


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Kame, Pat, and I all received e-ARCs of this book from the publisher/author in exchange for our honest opinions. However, all of us will be buying our own copies, too. :) 

Note*: The quotes used belong to Jessica Scott; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them.

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Be sure to stop by Kame's fun interview with all the characters of the Coming Home series -- there's a great giveaway involved! :) 

Also, stop by our group discussion for IABY, too!


Until Next Time,


  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!


Pat Egan Fordyce said...

So much fun!!!

Lover Of Romance said...

Love these reviews and reading your thoughts on this one. I do need to try this author out. Maybe I will get one of her books this week, which one would you recommend I try first?

The_Book_Queen said...

Thanks, we're glad you enjoy the triple reviews and discussions!

I would highly recommend starting with book 1; everything will make more sense and it allows you to get to know each character before their book. Pst -- remember, you can enter the giveaway on Kame's character interview ( http://tbqspersonalbookpalace.blogspot.com/2014/03/character-interview-with-jessica-scott.html ), winner can pick which book in the series they want!