I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review
Through a mix-up, elementary school teacher Brooke has become the pen pal of from the wrong side of the tracks American soldier Shane. Brooke comes from wealth and privilege but not exactly a happy home giving her a sweetly naïve guarded outlook on life. Shane's experience has a more real world quality, he spent most of his high school years working, just managed to get his GED, has been a soldier since he turned eighteen, and is on his fourth tour of duty. Shane is tired, a little cynical, and prone to crabby angry outbursts. Through letter writing, emails, and skype Brook and Shane have established a solid friendship but even though Shane warned her not to, Brook wants more. When Shane gets injured and Brooke's life is falling apart around her, their relationship is tested and they both struggle to figure out just what they really mean to each other.
There were two sides to this book; one was a sugary sweetness which emanated from Brooke providing the lighter rainbows, puppies, and it will work out ok because of love. Everything is fine and dandy when Brooke and Shane are tenderly bantering and just want to make kissy noises but things get tense when real life issues come into play. This brings about the other side of the book a gritty and uneasy look at what four tours of duty in a warzone can do to a person brought on by Shane. These two sides clash as Brooke obstinately makes moves to help Shane when he expresses a strong desire for her not to, this in turn makes Shane resent and act out (not physically) towards Brooke hurting her with his words. There are generally times when Brooke seems to blindly act and take her Mother Theresa persona too far giving a faint feeling of distaste and leaving the reader to wonder if these two really are worlds apart. Shane is clearly dealing with PTSD issues and I actually appreciated how the author depicted the normalness of this, no big one time moments of flashbacks that everyone sees and the hero gets immediate help but small everyday occurrences that people brush off. I do wish since the author made this a big part of the story that Brooke and Shane would have talked about it and he would have agreed to seek counseling.
The story thread that lead to Brooke and Shane being forced together, a sexy picture she took for Shane ended up being put on Facebook then snowballed to a student saying his brother had sexual relations with Brooke, worked for the most part. It was a realistic circumstance but the author got a bit preachy at times about cyberbullying and the whole thing was wrapped up in such a way that it felt rushed and anticlimactic. It is also mentioned quite a lot that Brooke loves watching soldiers returning home videos on Youtube and the feelings it gives her, it all made me wonder if she truly is in love with Shane or with the idea of loving a soldier. The mixtures of secondary characters were supportive and engaging, Shane's sister Charlotte had a few over the top moments but Brooke's friend Neve and her relationship with Shane's friend Rory has me intrigued.
Largely this is a nice story about two people dealing with life issues and coming together, it's an easy read that is not too terribly emotionally investing. Is Brooke and Shane's relationship completely believable? Not sure, but this is fiction and we're here for the happy ending which Loving You Easy graciously provides.