Rachel and Ryker’s firecracker chemistry is the basis for the romance in Ricochet by Skye Jordan. Ryker, a bomb specialist stationed in Afghanistan, needs to have direction and a purpose. He’s currently back in the States for a month at the demand of his CO, who required that Ryker return in the aftermath of a disastrous mission that had horrific results. This return is unwanted, though, and he soon joins up with the Renegades, a stuntman team, as their bombing specialist in order to keep himself focused on a purpose.
Flashbacks to Afghanistan reveal the source of Ryker’s PTSD, which is poignant and heartbreaking. Jordan captures raw, vulnerable moments from this typically stoic alpha-male in which he is confused, upset and battling an invisible enemy. Ryker’s mind can flip at any moment, and sometimes not even Rachel can talk him back.
“Just a bad memory. You’re safe. Everyone’s safe.”
Of Ryker’s five-man EOD unit, only one survived the bombing. This flashback gives us vivid details regarding the catastrophe.
Ryker started forward again, his gaze focused hard on the ground at his feet.
No disturbances, no divots, no soft ground
No wire, no metal, no plastic.
The anticipation to the final moment when everything changes is horrifically thrilling.
Alarm shot up Ryker’s spine. He grabbed Carmello’s arm with his free hand, lowered his weapon, and screamed, “Cover!”
One of Ryker’s buddies still in Afghanistan obtains his comrade’s information. He has survived multiple surgeries and is now missing three of his limbs. Ryker carries a lot of guilt from that day as he was the supervisor of the unit that failed to deactivate the bomb before it went off.
“Hold on, Mikey.” A sob garbled Mike’s name. Hopelessness and helplessness tried to bully their way into Ryker’s heart, but he battled them back.
I would like to preface this next scene by adding I’m a huge fan of any military surprise reunion videos. Lifetime had a show called Coming Home that I watched religiously. The background music was usually me sobbing. When Ryker and his fellow comrade reunite, my heart broke. Ryker had a lot of mixed feelings heading into this meeting.
So many emotions crowded inside Ryker at once, he felt as if he were caving in —relief, grief, gratitude, anger, fear, joy, surprise — a big tangled mess drawing everything to the surface.
I was in the middle of a plane with strangers and was trying to hold in the tears. It was incredibly awkward but I could not hold it back—and neither could Ryker.
“Ryker? Are you standing on my fucking porch? Or is this some crazy-ass flashback?”
He cleared his throat, but when he opened his mouth to speak, he couldn’t. Emotions he’d thought he’d found a place for rose up and flooded his chest. His eyes stung. His lungs burned.
Ryker lowered his face into one hand and leaned into the jamb on a whispered curse.
What Ryker finds in that moment is relief in seeing his friend/brother again. As the rest of the scene unfolds, realization hits Mikey that Ryker is suffering from survivor’s guilt and is being plagued by nightmares. Their relationship is such that Mike Carmello doesn’t hesitate in setting him straight.
Mike exhaled, gave Ryker that matter-of-fact look, and said, “Therapy, Ry. Don’t act like a stereotypical dumb shit. Find someone to talk to. Someone who can help you sort things out in your head. I only have one or two nightmares a month now. How many do you have?”
A long journey awaits Ryker, but I like to think the first step occurred in that moment when reality was thrust upon him. With time and hopefully with a new, stellar support system in Rachel, Ryker could find the peace Mike had as well.
“I won’t promise I’ll ever be perfect, but I can promise to keep trying.”
Sometimes trying is all anyone can do, especially a hero with a past like Ryker's.
Jessica spends her time daydreaming about a life within the pages of her favorite books, hoping to meet her own alpha male in an amazing meet cute. Living in Miami, she breaks the stereotype of the tanned appearance; being the palest amongst her friends takes a lot of work and it's all owed to the aforementioned books. She works all day but dreams of the day she can get paid to devour romance books all day and night. An avid reader since she could sound out words, you can find her reviewing at Bookcrack.com where she lets her reading freak flag fly!