Title: Love Means … Patience
Author: Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 5/5 Smooches
A Love Means... Story
Years after his discharge from the Marines under “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” Cody Culver lives in a PTSD-induced world all his own. On a mission, under misconceptions that Geoff and Eli are the enemy, Cody breaks into their farmhouse but is quickly brought back to his senses by a frying pan to the head. After receiving much needed help in the hospital, Cody has nowhere to go. Luckily, kindhearted Eli knows just where to turn.
When Eli asks former Marine Brick Hunter to help, Brick isn’t sure he wants to get involved. But Brick has worked through his own PTSD, and like it or not, he owes Eli a favor. With Cody struggling to rejoin the real world and Brick agreeing to take him in, they discover they have more in common than either of them thought possible.
Though Cody tries to stay in the here and now, he sometimes flashes to unexplainable traumatic events—events that don’t fit his usual war zone delusions. As the “delusions” grow more frequent, it becomes apparent they might not be delusions at all. Cody may have actually witnessed a murder.
Andrew Grey is a masterful storyteller, and Love means … Patience is a brilliant and heart wrenching novel. Cody Culver and Brink Hunter are strong, intense characters who share a traumatic past. Culver lives in his own world as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and it takes patience, love and acceptance to bring him out of his own tortured mind.
Grey pulls readers into this story within the first paragraph. His narration is intense and stunningly descriptive. At the beginning of the book, Cody is a tormented man who is battling a war within his own mind.
Cody woke with another start and forced himself to remain still and quiet. He gripped his gun tightly and listened. His dreams made his nights so much worse than his days. He only hoped he hadn’t done anything in his sleep to give away his position. He heard nothing but the same cracking in the trees. He peered out of the tent and saw the first gray light of dawn on the horizon. He knew he had to be gone and under deep cover before it got too bright. Cody shook out and rolled his bedding, then attached it to his pack the way he’d done a thousand times before. He then got the rest of his gear together and pulled on his boots before leaving the tent.
In a few practiced moves, he had the tent down, packed away, and the pole s folded and stowed. He’d eat once he was deeper under cover. Lifting the pack to his back, he surveyed the terrain, instantly marking every location a sniper could take refuge, and then began making for the deeper woods.
Hungry, cold and wary, Cody breaks into Eli and Geoff’s farm where he is literally met with a bang.
Cody hid his pack and made his way to the door of the farmhouse, checking for movement in case someone else was in the house. He pulled it open and snuck inside. The house was larger than he’d expected, but the kitchen was warm and smelled so fragrant he almost forgot why he was there. Memories flooded back, and Cody held his head, unable to process them all. This was not supposed to happen; not here, not now. He was at war, and this was a mission. He needed to take what he needed and get the hell out of there. Cody set his gun down but kept it close at hand. He started opening cupboards and found a box of snack cakes. He tore into them and ate each in a single bite. The sugar hit his system almost immediately, and he felt a surge of energy. He continued looking and grabbed the first cans he saw. They would last him a few days, and he could deal with whatever was inside. He filled his pockets with the rest of the snack cakes and then stuffed the rest of the cans into his pack and headed for the door. As he passed the sink, he looked out the window above it and saw the man and kid still playing in the yard.
“What in hell do you think you’re doing?” someone said behind him. Cody twisted and was reaching for his gun when his head exploded with stars and his knees buckled.
“How in the hell did you get into my kitchen?”
Cody fell, clutching his gun and trying desperately to see his attacker so he could take one clean shot. Darkness overtook him instead, and the last thing he remembered was lying on a warm floor.
Fight or flight is the reaction a body experiences when it is in danger, and Cody is in full flight or fight mode throughout much of this story. He has seen horrors on the battlefield. He has saved lives. He is a hero and a model Marine until he is dishonorably discharged under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) mandate.
This discharge shakes Cody’s life to the core. The Marines are his family and his court martial and immediate discharge breaks something inside of him. In addition, he is no longer eligible for financial or medical benefits that he earned as a decorated soldier who risked his life for his country.
Cody rode in the truck between Brick and Eli in a daze. For the past few days he’d been trying to put the pieces of his torn-apart life back together. But every time he thought he had things understood, they changed. Most of the things he’d been thinking for years were wrong, or at least the people around him said they were wrong. He hadn’t been sure what to believe until he’d met Brick. He acted like a Marine, and that had helped ground things for him. When Cody got a chance, he had a lot of things he wanted to ask Brick before he was willing to fully believe him. But the things he’d seen with his own eyes had helped open his mind to the possibility that what he thought wasn’t the way things were.
It was still very hard. He didn’t quite know how to take anything or understand what was expected of him. … He wasn’t where he thought he was, and his missions had now begun to take on a rather murky quality that convinced him more and more that they were part of his dreams. They had seemed real at the time, and he’d known what he was supposed to be doing, but now… he had no idea what in hell he was going to do or even where he was going.
Former Marine Brick Hunter can relate to Cody. Living in his own self-imposed isolation at the neighboring farm to Geoff and Eli, Hunter tried to contain his own PTSD by turning to alcohol. Now that he is a recovering alcoholic, he is trying to put his life back in order. Begrudgingly, Hunter, also dishonorably discharged under DADT, agrees to help Cody.
After he’d been discharged, he’d had a hard time of it. The life he’d known and loved had been ripped away from him, and with it went the support and the chance at military medical care that he needed. Brick had retreated to the farm and spent most of his days alone. Unfortunately, instead of working the farm the way he should have, he’d spent a lot of his time drinking and trying to forget. He’d pulled himself out of the spiral by sheer willpower and his desire to save the farm from his own stupidity. Eli and Geoff had been there for him. So he’d promised he’d meet this Cody as a favor to Eli, but…
Cody and Brick are both lost. Grey weaves an intricate tale as Hunter’s and Cody’s past lives are slowly revealed through dialogue, flashbacks and the incongruous action of sleep walking.
Cody tried to get his mind around what had happened and what he’d done. He’d known he was sleepwalking, but his dreams, or what he thought were his dreams, had been real, except instead of Frank, he’d let Brick hold him. And Brick had done it. He’d let Cody come to his bed and held him just like he’d done in front of the fire. The thing was, Cody had liked being held. He’d felt more peaceful, and his head had been quieter than he could remember. “I liked it too.”
Determining what is real and not real is a challenge for Cody, but as the saying goes, just because someone is paranoid, it does not mean everyone is not out to get them. In this case, there is a real danger present, and that danger is brought to light, Cody and the rest of the men on the farm are taken by surprise.
Grey constructs a masterful story with Love Means …. Patience. Like the other books in the farm series, the characters are genuine and realistic. As isolated as the farm is, real-life once again makes its ugly intrusion into the peacefulness that Eli and Geoff have created. The awesome and angst-filled plot is only enhanced with Grey’s wonderful character development that permeates this story. Although this is clearly a work of fiction, the realism in the story is tangible, and the social implications are staggering in their realism.
**Thank you to Andrew for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**