Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Long Walk Back by Rachel Dove
Release Date: 11th January 2018
Publisher: HQ Digital
Genres:  Contemporary Women's Fiction

Does everyone deserve a second chance?

As an army trauma surgeon Kate knows how to keep her cool in the most high pressure of situations. Although back at home in England her marriage is falling apart, out in the desert she’s happy knowing that she’s saving lives.

Until she meets Cooper. It’s up to Kate to make a split-second decision to save Cooper’s life. Yet Cooper doesn’t want to be saved. Can Kate convince him to give his life a second chance even though its turning out dramatically different from how he planned?


Kate was in a real mood; Trevor could tell from the way she pounded across the tent to him. He was doing his rounds, and they had had a good night. A good night here was when they still had the same number alive as the day before. A great day was when there were no casualties at all, but Trevor was hard pushed to remember many days like that.
‘Who’s upset you? Neil whingeing about doing the dishwasher again, is he?’ Trevor asked, and immediately regretted cracking the joke when the icicles from Kate’s frosty glare jabbed him in the chest.
‘Captain Cooper thinks he is hilarious. I’m just waiting for him to call me ‘toots’ and slap me on the behind,’ Kate said, seething. Trevor checked the vitals on his sleeping patient, and satisfied, made notes on his chart.
‘So he’s awake? That’s amazing! How is he doing?’
‘Oh he’s doing just fine, for a male chauvinist pig.’
Kate,’ Trevor admonished, trying not to laugh at her furious expression. ‘How are his vitals?’
Kate pursed her lips, taking a breath to focus on the job. ‘He’s stable, the chest drain is working well. I’m still concerned about his leg though. He has limited blood flow to the area, and I' m worried about sepsis.’
Trevor nodded sadly. ‘So he will probably lose the leg, if we try to keep him alive.’ He rubbed at his temples. ‘Not told him any of this, have you?’
Kate shook her head. ‘I told him you would explain on this morning’s ward round. I wanted to go through everything again, monitor him closely for as long as we safely can before we make a decision.’
Trevor looked at her, his face unreadable. ‘It may not be our decision, it’s up to him.’
Kate looked nonplussed. ‘The evac chopper is coming in two days. At present, he’s too unstable to move. We need to get him home then, leg or no leg. A decision between losing a limb and dying is not a great thing to have thrust at you, granted - but he wants to live, surely?’
Trevor placed the chart at the foot of the bed and started to walk towards the next patient, issuing medication instructions to the nurse as he walked.
‘Kate,’ he began in a tone he might have used to tell his child that Father Christmas wasn’t real. ‘I have worked on men like Captain Cooper since this whole nightmare started. These are army men to the core. Sometimes going home means no family, no buddies, no job, and a lifetime of relying on other people. They are proud, and sometimes, to them, the reality is worse than death. Don’t take anything for granted when it comes to patient wishes.’
‘A boy died yesterday, to save these men. Surely that’s reason enough to want to live?’
Kate ran her fingers through her hair, suddenly feeling tired all over again.
‘Cooper knows that. Better than most, probably. It’s still his decision, he has to live with it. Understood?’ Trevor spoke firmly now.
Kate opened her mouth to argue, but she thought better of it. She respected her mentor, always had, and she didn’t want to argue. Not when the fact that life was so short and precious was evident in every face, every feature she saw over here. ‘Understood.’


The book begins in an explosive manner.............right there on the battle torn streets of Iraq where we meet Captain Thomas Cooper or Coop as his friends and brothers in arms call him. He is left in a desperate situation trying to save his unit when he himself becomes a casualty of war and as a result is thrown into Dr Kate Harper's world of trauma surgery. Faced with an impossible situation and going against Coop's wishes, she saves his life. Unbeknownst to them both they would each play a major part in rebuilding each others lives away from the war zone and back home in England where Kate's marriage is falling apart and where her own son is fighting his own battle for survival.

This is a book that doesn't hold back on the horrors of war and the devastation it causes to everyone. Tough decisions have to be made in extraordinary circumstances and Kate is a strong enough woman to make them. Coop has met his match in her. Rachel Dove has created two exceptionally strong characters who are both flawed, frightened and fighting personal battles behind the wall they put up around themselves.  Coop must try to find the strength and courage to rebuild his life and Kate must look deep within herself to allow him to help her this time. The book also has some wonderful secondary characters such as Rita who works in the rehabilitation centre and indeed even Kate's husband. What a weasel!  

The book is written in the third person but also switches to Cooper's point of view too and I feel this helps us gain a greater understanding of the physical and emotional pain he is going through. I knew someone in a similar situation as Coop and Rachel Dove has covered all the bases in her interpretation of Coop's suffering both physical and emotional. This is a brilliant book and one that I really enjoyed despite it reducing me to tears on more than one occasion.  By the last chapters I was a blubbering mess! But, there were tears of joy too! Kate's difficulties with her son and her own broken heart set against the angst that poor Coop is feeling really did tug at my heart strings. A well written, beautifully paced and emotional read. Highly recommended.

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I am a wife, mother of two boys, perpetual student, avid reader and writer of words. I sometimes sleep, always have eye bags and dream of retiring to a big white house in Cornwall, with 2 shaggy dogs, drinking wine on my seafront balcony whilst creating works of romantic fiction. All done with immaculate make up and floaty dresses.

In the meantime I nearly always remember to brush my hair, seldom have time to look in a mirror and write many, many to-do lists.

My first solo novel, Crossing Life Lines is out now in Kindle and paperback format. Look out for my horror shorts, published through Bayou Brew Publishing: The House of Sugar Blood, August 2013 and Uni Assassin, out now, and my short story, Mallow Girl, out now.

In July 2015, I won the Prima magazine and Mills & Boon Flirty Fiction Competition, with my entry, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, out now in ebook and paperback, and the follow up novel in the series, The Flower Shop on Foxley Street.

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