Don’t Call Me Hero by Eliza Lentzski is another great story that shows how much Lentzski loves writing by giving us great characters that illustrate the difference between living and surviving and how having a kindred spirit can help you move past survival and back to living.
Cassidy Miller retired from the United States Marine Corp a year ago. When she came back to civilian life and returned to her job in the Minneapolis Police Department, the nightmares that followed her back showed readjusting was not going to be as easy as she thought. So, she decides to leave the MPD and take a nice, quiet position on the police force of Embarrass, MN. During her going away party, she meets a gorgeous and mysterious woman, Julia Desjardin. As Cassidy tries to make the moves on Julia to have one last night of fun in Minneapolis, it goes horribly wrong and she walks out of the party thoroughly dejected.
When Cassidy arrives at her new job, the last thing she expects is to see Julia again, who is also the city prosecutor. From the start, Julia seems very cool, professional, and untouchable. But Cassidy won’t let her forget their history, and it isn’t long before they start an intense affair. As they spend more time together, they begin to see that they have more in common than they originally thought. Unfortunately, just as the walls start to crumble, and both women begin to feel that they have someone to help with their personal skeletons, a scandal breaks that hits close to home. Will Cassidy and Julia be able to overcome this obstacle and build their relationship? Or will this deed of mistrust be enough to tear them apart?
The characters of Cassidy and Julia are flawed in their own ways, but Lentzski is able to give each of them qualities that are so relatable, and I came to like them for very different reasons.
Cassidy is the embodiment of an ex-Marine who has had a hard life. She is constantly dealing with her PTSD, and it creates difficult situations for her, especially when she meets new people. Because of this constant struggle, it makes her appear withdrawn and introverted. When she first meets Julia, she does her best to interact and engage, but it is difficult for her to do because she is always aware of her condition and she doesn’t want to expose another person to her nightmares. When she addresses her condition, and goes to great lengths to prevent triggers and outbursts, you see the woman Cassidy truly is. She is kind, caring, and like any good detective she is insightful about her surroundings and is able to follow the clues that lead her to the answers she is looking for, whether it’s solving a case or solving the mystery that is Julia.
At first glimpse, Julia appears to have a hard exterior that is impossible to penetrate. Even after her first introduction to Cassidy, you can’t help but wonder what Cassidy would find so attractive about her outside the physical. However, as Cassidy is able to find the truth behind Julia’s walls, so does the reader. There you find a woman who, like Cassidy, has had a hard life but she is also tender and compassionate when it comes to the people she cares about. And, also like Cassidy, she is exceptional at her job. When she stands in a courtroom, that cool exterior she exerts is seen now as a positive weapon and less than a negative characteristic.
The Writing Style
Lentzski loves to write in first person, and I feel that is helpful because it allows her to put a little of herself in each story that she writes. For this specific story, we are privy to the point of view of Cassidy. I feel this was the smart choice over Julia because Cassidy has the humanity that readers can empathize with right from the beginning. Whereas with Julia, you have to peel the layers back on her one by one to get a good sense of who she is as a person. By seeing Julia through Cassidy’s eyes, the reader really begins to see her as the woman and fierce lover that complements Cassidy in her passion and sexual prowess, as well as a worthy adversary that challenges Cassidy to be better than her condition.
Lentzski takes a lot of pride in doing research before every story, and it’s easy to see just how well she did this through Cassidy’s PTSD struggles and the details that go into the legal system and law. These added little details only heightened my excitement to read this story and also made me feel like I was in this world from the first word to the last.
My only con is that there’s not a book (yet?) in this series documenting Julia’s side of events. If for no other reason, now that I’ve gotten to know Julia’s character more, I would love to see what her initial thoughts of Cassidy were during their first meeting, as well as their time together in Embarrass, MN.
I haven’t found a book by Lentzski I haven’t loved yet. This one ranks right up there with “Winter Jacket” for me. It has an unconventional love story at its heart, and it’s surrounded by great details and two great characters that, together, learn if they want to be better than their circumstances, they must quit surviving and start living. I highly recommend this and check out its two sequels to follow the journey of Cassidy and Julia as they navigate their relationship and their demons.
Excerpt from Don’t Call Me Hero by Eliza Lentzski
It was a clear night – beautiful actually—the perfect evening for fireworks. It took some convincing, but Chief Hart gave me the Fourth of July off. At first he denied my request, but he must have realized the reason behind me asking, because he changed his mind in the same breath. I tried to manage my triggers, and paramount among them was bright flashes of lights and the sounds of explosions. The night of the Fourth, I drove out of Embarrass and into the country to avoid aggravating my mental injuries.
I found myself taking the route to Julia’s house just outside the city limits. The lights in her manner were all off, but her car was out front in the circular driveway, so I knew she couldn’t have strayed too far. It was too dark for gardening, so I knocked on the front door.
“Detective Miller.” She looked beyond me and saw my bike parked outside. “Not working tonight?”
I didn’t feel like talking. I just needed something to distract me—to help me forget.
I stepped her backwards into the house and shut the door with the help of my booted foot. She made no comment about my footwear or the possible scuff I’d probably left on the painted door with the inelegant action.
I flicked the top button of her blouse open and kissed at the bare skin that had been hidden there. My mouth left the area wet and slightly flushed, but not enough to leave a mark that would show up the next day. My intuition told me I’d be facing the city attorney’s wrath if I’d done that.
I focused my attention on the next pearly white button and freed it form its strangling noose. More pale, olive-toned skin appeared beneath the white button-up. The beige bra was a letdown compared to some of the other undergarments I’d seen her in, but it couldn’t detract from the pert flesh that I knew resided beneath the conservative garment.
I slid my hand beneath the soft cream blouse, but she stopped me, wrapping her fingers around my wrist. “Upstairs,” she murmured.
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- ISBN number: 9781502912503