Broken Hero is my historical romance set in England during World War II.
Audrey Pearson’s life changed dramatically when WWII broke out and her large home, Twelve Pines on the East Yorkshire coast, became a convalescence home for wounded soldiers. Her life is no longer lavish with entertainment, beautiful clothes and surrounded by a loving family. Soldiers, physically and mentally wounded now fill her home. The smell of disinfectant replaces her mother’s perfume and gone are the friends and acquaintances - instead nurses roam the hallways.
Captain Jake Harding, a doctor training in psychiatry arrives at Twelve Pines. Audrey immediately finds herself attracted to the Captain, but he is remote towards her. Puzzled by his cold behaviour, Audrey tries to learn more about the handsome Captain. He reveals that he’s lost a wife and baby in childbirth and refuses to ever remarry. However, despite this, Audrey believes she can change his mind and make him aware he doesn’t have to spend his life alone.
The ice around Jake’s heart begins to melt. For years he has rejected the possibility of finding love again because of the pain it caused him before, but the beautiful Audrey shows him her love and she needs someone to love her in return.
Could he honestly walk away from her, from the love that could be his?
From downstairs they heard the commotion of the emptying cellar.
“I’d better check that everyone is all right,” Jake said, but didn’t move. He reached out and took one of her hands. “We need to talk I think.”
“We do?” She tried to pretend she didn’t know his meaning. From his sad expression, she knew it wouldn’t be a talk she’d want to have. He was regretting his actions already. Well, she wasn’t ashamed. She knew she loved him.
“Audrey, I can’t be what you want.”
Her chest squeezed, but she raised her chin in challenge. “You haven’t tried, so how do you know?”
“You want a good man to love you. You deserve a man’s love, the right man for you.”
“And what if you are the right man for me?”
“I’m not. You mustn’t think I am.” He ran his hands through his hair. “You’re young and beautiful, there’s many a man who’d love you—”
“Don’t patronise me.” She tossed her head, angered by his attempts to brush her aside again.
“I’m not, honestly. You’re wonderful, and I wish I could be the man you need.”
“But you are! If you just allow yourself to be.” She reached out for him, only he backed away, shaking his head.
“I won’t. Audrey. I’ll never marry again. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t cope with the responsibility of loving someone again, of the possible pain…”
“But I love you.” There, she had said the words.
He looked appalled. “You can’t.”
“Don’t tell me how I feel.”
“You don’t know what love is!”
“I’m speaking from the heart, Jake. I’m not one of those girls who plays with men’s feelings. I love you like I’ve never loved anyone else before.”
He backed away, shaking his head, his eyes haunted. “No. I won’t do this.”
“What we shared in my bedroom was special. It was meant. You can’t deny that.”
Jake gave a mocking laugh. “It was a kiss, Audrey. A simple kiss that men and women share in times of need. It leads to sex. You don’t have to be in love to have sex.”
“No. I won’t listen to you.”
“It’s true. Don’t make it out to be more than it was.”
“Why are you so certain that it meant nothing?”
“Because I know the difference.”
She felt sick. “So you wanted s-sex? Just any woman would do…”
He wiped a hand over his tormented face. “No, I didn’t mean…Damn, this isn’t what I meant to say. Listen to me—”
“I won’t listen to you, not until you really know what you’re saying. Not until you really know what you want.”
“I don’t want love, Audrey.”
Emotion clogged her throat. “Are-Are you saying you can never love me or any woman ever again?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Why?” she croaked. Lord, could there be a pain any worse than this?
“I don’t want to love another woman again, not ever.” He closed his eyes momentarily. “I wanted to die after Marianne, I nearly did. I can’t do it again, Audrey, I can’t suffer such…such anguish as that again…”
People were coming up the stairs and their chatter filtering up, drove Jake away. With a last glance at her, his eyes sending his apology, he went to meet the others and resume his role of doctor and caretaker of their reason.
But what of your reason, Jake? Audrey inwardly cried. Who will save you from your self-imposed loneliness?
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