Title: Healing Souls
Series: Soldiers of Pearl 2
Author: Dixie Lynn Dwyer
Genre: Contemporary, ex-marine
Stand Alone: YES
Re-issued /Re-edited: NO
Date published: October 2014
Published by: Siren Publishing
Publisher bookstore: LINK
Word count: 73,558
Page count: 171 pages
People seem to be more interested in my name than where I get my ideas for my stories from. So I might as well share the story behind my name with all my readers.
My momma was born and raised in New Orleans. At the age of twenty, she met and fell in love with an Irishman named Patrick Riley Dwyer. Needless to say, the family was a bit taken aback by this as they hoped she would marry a family friend. It was a modern day arranged marriage kind of thing and my momma downright refused.
Being that my momma’s families were descendents of the original English speaking Southerners, they wanted the family blood line to stay pure. They were wealthy and my father’s family was poor.
Despite attempts by my grandpapa to make Patrick leave and destroy the love between them, my parents married. They recently celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary.
I am one of six children born to Patrick and Lynn Dwyer. I am a combination of both Irish and a true Southern belle. With a name like Dixie Lynn Dwyer it’s no wonder why people are curious about my name.
Just as my parents had a love story of their own, I grew up intrigued by the lifestyles of others. My imagination as well as my need to stray from the straight and narrow made me into the woman I am today.
[Siren LoveXtreme Forever: Erotic Ménage Romance, M/F/M/M/M/M, light consensual BDSM, spanking, HEA]
Sometimes the greatest fight one has, is the one within themselves. Cora only knows abuse and pain. She no longer believes that any man would want her after all she has sustained. Her focus is on her children and making a future for them of love, safety and security. She’s determined to be independent, to resist the anxiety attacks that rule her life, and to start anew.
When her sister challenges her capabilities, Cora sets out to prove her wrong. She never expects to win the hearts of five very intimidating, personally scarred soldiers. But the connection they feel, the shared losses, the vulnerability and challenges, are common between them. The love and compassion they show toward her children alters her belief that these men are cold hearted commanding men. Can she identify and accept true love, when it appears out of nowhere? Or are the scars of her past too deep to let anyone in? When danger appears closer then feared, Cora could lose it all.
It’s been a while since I wanted to read and review a Dixie Lynn Dwyer new menage. I say new because I already read this author, and she is far from a newbie. She is a well-established exclusive Siren author of this pen name.
I read a couple of her books over the years and to be honest my level of enjoyment ranged between outstanding to down not-for-me. And this is why I always insist to say that bad reviews for one book do not define an author because the previous or next book can truly be incredible.
I read and reviewed a couple of menages from Dixie Lynn Dwyer. I even asked her personally to review one of her books (she was offering at that time this possibility on Facebook)… which I very VERY rarely do (I recall less than 3 books since 2011). Honest, I pride myself to never beg a free book to authors because it does not feel right to me. Main reason is that it would not feel right to write a poor review when I asked a free book, the work of an author, let’s say one of her “kids”, read it and then give a bad review. There is of course always a chance it will be a good or great review but chances are that: one way or the other.
So I made an exception and asked her one of her books… and I never reviewed it. Guilty. Plain guilty. Even today I feel guilty. Oh I read the story! However it was one of the stories I was not inspired to review. In fact, the only thing I remember was cringing my teeth because the heroes were prehistoric cavemen beings and I could not bear to finish the book. I could tell you which one but it does not matter. My point is not there. How can you say that to an author? I am ashamed to say that I took the coward way and did not say anything. I am pretty sure she is not a fan of mine if she even liked me before… And this is why, I never ask an ARC or a book from an author directly. I want to keep my free will saying whatever I want to say and post a review or not, whatever the rating, on my blog without worrying to upset the author. So at the end of the day, I am like any person, author or reviewer included, I am learning to say “not my cup of tea, sorry” and not be afraid to upset an author by saying it. Nobody can please everyone. Fact.
Of course, I have a complete different approach with ARC (advance reading copy, book to be released to public). I refuse to review and post my review if I rated it less than 4 or 5 stars. Unless I paid and selected the book myself, then I am free to review and post whatever I want as I am a customer. I always respect authors that are asking me to review their book as I know it can be difficult to gamble the rating. Not myself in particular, just the fact to take the chance to ask a reviewer to read and potentially not liking it. Only few authors have the strength to accept bad critics. I know only a few on top of my head. Few as less than five altogether… I have a profound admiration for them to handle the critics gracefully. Trust me if I am telling you that only few took it the way I wanted them to.
Now that I made my public flogging mea culpa, I will approach and review this story like I always do: with honestly and explain in details what worked and what did not for me.
Back to Dixie Lynn Dywer. I read an outstanding menage from this author: SWAT Team One and the Social Worker. It was back in the days I started to officially review menages, in 2011. I have a soft spot for soldiers, what can I say? I never reviewed this story, but I really liked it and still today invite you to read it. I read also two other stories that I liked a bit less and reviewed: Angelique and For the love of Anna.
Transition to Healing Souls now. Two things attracted me immediately: soldiers and blurb.
My first thought is that the title is definitely a great choice and resume the story. Dixie Lynn Dwyer has something that not a lot of authors have. She can describe her character’s feelings and make you cry. That is very rare. I hardly cry. Not because I do not care of the described events, but because I do not feel them inside. In this story, I felt it: the fear, the self-low esteem and way more.
I am not sure that five heroes were truly necessary in this story, especially the twins. But they brought some softness with the kids that the other did not so maybe it was justified there. Romantically, I am not sure. Main reason is that their story was not enough developed so I connected with them less.
So what about the other three guys. I like very much two out of three. I had mixed feeling about the Commander. He was, along with the heroine, the one who was high maintenance. For me he was too much caveman. I understood his mistrust but in a romance, it took way too long for him to fall for the heroine. He is THE alpha male. He is in control of everything. Yet, when shit hit the fan, he forgot the basic like carrying his guns knowing that a guy is out there to murder his woman? I am not sure what was missing because the author made sure to portray him as a dominant, a protector. I felt he admitted to his pals he was falling for her way too quickly in my opinion (one minute he did not want, the next he was in) but the only to show her was being an ass or treat her like a dumb. She was nearly killed because he failed to carry his guns, yet he never apologized. Maybe a bit too much of “mine, all mine” with not enough “your, I am all yours”.
In my opinion, in Dixie Lynn Dwyer mind, male heroes do not know how to express their love and show them with sex. Each time there is a lovey moment, they jump on the heroine’s bones to make sure she understood they truly meant it. I found this in many romances which lead me to believe that authors write what they know in real life? I mean, if someone is surrendered with alpha males that hardly cuddle and say out loud ILY, either the author will write this or go to the extreme with sweet cuddly heroes. I dunno. maybe. Complete hypothesis here.
Plot was all centered around PTSD characters. It was definitely well written and totally believable. I did cry at the right moments. It was truly something else.
Sex scenes were nice but I did not buy her changing her mind from a total sex abused victim to a ready to have sex with five guys in a matter of a month. They came at her very strong and at the same time. Yes, she was falling, but I think one at the time, except maybe the twins would have been better for the “I want to move on and I can trust them with my heart and soul and body… and my virgin ass”.
The epilogue was okay. I missed the romantic proposal though. But I loved the puppies touch 🙂
So overall, I really liked this story. I excused many caveman attitude because they were not all that way, plus they are marines and I guess that is the way we, ladies, all picture them. I thought the author did an incredible job to portray PTSD. All characters were reluctant to fall in love which was a nice change versus love at first page.
About the cover: What part of Siren did not understand about “petite” and big huge muscle’s guys and twins… they are all pretty models but totally not reflecting the description.
Edit issues: found a couple of typos here and there. Even the wrong heroine’s name. This is sadly recurrent with Siren with too many stories.
Last… light consensual BDSM, spanking… Really? Where does that come from? She called one of the guy, one single time “commander”, and she received three or four light slap on her ass. mmm something is not right in the tagging siren department, not the first time I noticed this silliness to tag a book BDSM when there is NO BDSM whatsoever!