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Because We Loved - A Christian Romance (Book 1 in the Transformed by Love Series)

Because We Loved - A Christian Romance (Book 1 in the Transformed by Love Series)

Heartwarming Christian Romance

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 450+ 5 star reviews

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When Callum Westaway opts for training new recruits after years of fighting in the Middle East, his father considers it a step down. Callum considers it breathing space. He’s seen too many good men die under his watch, and now, plagued with night terrors and undiagnosed PTSD, is considering his career options.

Fleur Gibbons was married to one of those good men. When she bumps into Lt Cl Callum Westaway in downtown Salford and he suggests they meet for coffee, she wonders if his motive is to simply to relieve his guilt. However, she soon finds herself drawn to him.

Callum is handsome, single, and new to town. One problem…he’s not a believer.

And she has two children…

And how would their father feel about her falling for his commanding officer?

No. It’s too complicated by far. Isn’t it?

But what if God could reach deep into Callum’s heart and heal his memories? Transform his life with His amazing love? And what if Fleur could let go of the past and feel free to love another man?

Because We Loved, a Christian Military Romance, is Book One in the Transformed by Love Christian Romance Series. Grab your copy now and be blessed!

decorated Lieutenant Colonel plagued with guilt. A captivating widow whose husband was killed under his watch…

Callum Westaway, after years in the Middle East and grappling with PTSD, takes a less demanding role to consider his future. Widowed Fleur Gibbons, married to a soldier under Callum's command, meets him by chance, sparking an unexpected connection despite her reservations about his non-belief and her late husband's memory.

With Callum's struggle for peace and Fleur's hesitation to move on, their budding relationship faces challenges. Yet, the possibility of healing and transformation through love and faith looms, suggesting a hopeful future if they can navigate the complexities of their pasts and differences.

Chapter One - Look Inside

Salford Army Base, Victoria, Australia
Callum stood at ease, listening to Colonel Jarrop run through his first day and what to expect. He tried to hide the fact that he was so tired. The man’s monotonous voice was making him feel like going back to bed to catch up on missed sleep. After the nightmare, he’d stayed awake, and sitting on his balcony, had watched the sun come up. He’d seen the sun rise in many places during his army career, but had never paused long enough to take it in. Appreciate it. That morning, he’d witnessed the beauty of a summer sunrise in a clear sky and felt lucky to be alive.
So many weren’t.
The pang of survivor’s guilt had followed immediately after, spoiling his reverie. Often, his recent nightmares replayed scenes of friends and fellow soldiers dying in the field. Last night it had been Jeff Gibbons, a man who’d served under him in Afghanistan three years earlier. A pleasant guy, he was devoted to his wife and kids and talked about them constantly. Callum had still been a little raw over Danielle at that point and had tried not to feel envious of Jeff’s fortune.
He’d thought of the family Gibbons had left behind a few times over the years and wondered how they were doing. He’d met his wife—Fleur, he thought her name was, it sounded like a flower—at the funeral. Even with her face twisted in grief, Callum had noticed her gentle but overwhelming beauty. He’d given her his condolences, but she’d looked through him, staring into a past she’d lost. Or perhaps a future she no longer recognised.
Seeing the Colonel staring at him quizzically, Callum pushed away his morbid thoughts. What is wrong with me lately? “Sorry sir, I didn’t catch that.”
The Colonel smiled genially. “I was just pointing out, Westaway, after all of your experience in the field, dealing with a few new recruits should be child’s play.”
“I hope so, sir.”
The Colonel rubbed his neck. “There’s one recruit you may need to watch out for. Billy Cassidy. He’s nineteen, I believe. He was on a fast track to prison until he decided to join the army and ‘turn his life around.’ A noble sentiment, but looking at his record, the boy’s trouble.”
Callum raised a brow. “But we’ve given him a chance?”
The Colonel nodded. “He shows promise. Passed all the entry tests with flying colours. Sometimes these boys are the ones who surpass all expectations and fly up the ranks. I guess because we give them a home and a purpose.”
Callum smiled wryly. He could understand that. Despite his recent struggles, the army had been his home and purpose his entire adult life. “I’ll keep an eye out for him. A few weeks of basic training will soon show what he’s made of.”
The Colonel looked pleased. “We’re glad to have you, Westaway. Good luck.”
Callum stood to attention, saluted and left the room. It was time to meet the recruits. His first class with them was Military History. He had them for Parade Training as well. At least he wasn’t teaching PT. That would have annoyed his father.

The Military History class rapidly turned into what felt like his own biography as the recruits peppered him with questions after the lecture. Rather than asking him to tell them more about the history of the conflicts in the Middle East or the early days of the army, all they wanted to know about was Lt Cl Westaway.
“How many medals have you got?”
“How many tours have you been on?”
Callum laughed and answered their questions good-naturedly. While he knew it was important he retain his authority, he also knew their time at camp would be better supported by officers who seemed human, not just unapproachable seniors.
He was surprised by how much he was actually enjoying himself so far. Teaching seemed to suit him.
Billy Cassidy raised his hand. “I’ve got a question, sir.” Callum nodded at him to continue. Contrary to the Colonel’s warnings, Billy had been no trouble whatsoever. In fact, he seemed happy to be there and eager to learn. Apparently he’d excelled in PT. Looking at his lean but wiry frame, Callum wasn’t surprised.
“Have you seen a lot of death?” the youth asked.
Callum blinked. Was this lad somehow reading his mind? Were his night terrors on show for all to see? Clearing his throat, he answered more brusquely than he’d intended, “Of course, Cassidy. In war, people die.”
There were a few nervous titters, but most of the recruits went quiet and looked at him intently. How many of them grasped the realities of what could lie before them? It was one thing to know something was going to happen and quite another to be in the middle of it. Remembering his own basic training, Callum reflected that none of the training officers had ever openly spoken about the inevitable dangers they faced, not in any concrete way. His first active tour in East Timor had been a baptism by fire. He swore to himself he’d do his best to equip these recruits with the resilience they would need.
Billy just looked thoughtful at Callum’s reply. He opened his mouth to say something else, but hesitated. Callum sighed, suddenly feeling a wave of exhaustion again. “Spit it out, Cassidy.”
“I just wondered, sir...maybe it’s a silly question...but is it worth it? Being in the army? Is it worth all the death?”
Callum stared at him. The boy’s words were like a punch to the gut. It was a question he had no answer for. He looked around the room, his gaze settling briefly on every recruit before he spoke again. “That’s something you’ll have to answer for yourselves. I’ll ask you in a few years.” If you’re alive, he thought before dismissing them.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. Parade Training was frustrating, and he tried to recall how it had been when he was a fresh recruit, green around the ears and knowing far less than he thought he did. Surely, though, he’d been able to march in a straight line.
After his duties finished, Callum went home to change into gym clothes. He’d pushed through his earlier tiredness with the help of a few too many coffees and now felt unpleasantly restless and jittery. If he tried to sleep while feeling like this, he was sure to have another nightmare. A good workout and hot shower would hopefully balance out both body and brain.
It had been a good first day, he reflected as he drove to the gym. Far from feeling like he had ‘downgraded’, he felt privileged to teach the latest cohort and pleased to discover he had an aptitude for something other than being a soldier. Even Parade Training had given him a sense of fulfilment when after two hours of drill, a basic formation—with everyone facing in the same direction¬—had been managed. Apart from Billy Cassidy’s question, he’d remained in the moment all day, thoughts of his recent past behind him. Maybe this was what he needed.
He parked outside the gym in downtown Salford and got out of his car. A woman had left the building and was walking in his direction. Slim and toned, with honey blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, something about her was familiar.
She frowned as she approached, as if she also sensed familiarity. When he saw her soft, blue eyes that were as clear as the sky above, and her cute, upturned nose, he felt a jolt of recognition. Fleur Gibbons. Jeff’s widow.
He hesitated. Should he say hello, or would she find it intrusive? He needn’t have worried. She gave him a shy smile. “Lieutenant...Westaway?”
“Lieutenant Colonel,” he said with a smile, “or just Callum is fine. You’re Fleur?”
“Yes.” A shadow crossed her face. “I met you at Jeff’s funeral. I remember your name—he always spoke highly of you when he was home on leave.”
Callum wasn’t sure whether he felt pleased or sad. Jeff had only been with his squadron a few months; they hadn’t been close. Still, he’d liked the man and often thought in different circumstances they might have met for a drink. “Jeff was a good man.”
Fleur bit her lip, looking away. “Yes,” she said quietly. “He was.”
There was a pause before Callum cleared his throat, feeling awkward at not knowing what to say in this situation. “ have you been?”
She met his gaze again. Her eyes were clear and he immediately felt she was someone to be trusted. Even at the funeral he’d noticed she had a certain poise about her. She gave another a small smile. “Good. It’s taken a while to get to this point, but we did.” She fingered a small silver cross around her neck as she spoke.
“It must have been hard,” he said with compassion.
“It was. There were days when I felt the pain of loss would never get better. But it got easier with time. That’s what they say, don’t they? Time’s a healer.” She glanced down and tucked some hair behind her ear. “It feels like nonsense at the beginning, a thing people say because they don’t know what else to say, but then you wake up one morning and realise it’s a little easier to breathe.”
She looked taken aback at how much she’d revealed and gave a breathy, embarrassed laugh. “Sorry, I don’t know where all that came from.”
Callum shook his head quickly. He’d been completely caught up in her words. “Not at all. I’m glad I saw you. I’ve often wondered how you were doing. Jeff talked about you and the children all the time—nearly drove the rest of us mad.”
She let out a small laugh and he couldn’t help noticing how her face lit up. “That’s so nice to hear,” she said before glancing at her wristwatch. “I wish we had longer to chat. It’s so nice to talk to someone about Jeff after all these years. I don’t see anyone from the army anymore, but I never was one to mingle with the wives.” She frowned as if realising something. “Are you on leave?”
“Not quite. I’ve taken a break from active service. I’m based at Salford Barracks, overseeing the training of the new recruits.” He felt embarrassed as he said it, so was gratified when she looked impressed.
“That’s fantastic. I bet you’re brilliant at it.”
Callum was surprised to feel himself flush. “Well, the jury’s out on that one; it was only my first day today. I usually work out first thing in the morning, but I guess it will have to be evenings from now on.” He motioned towards the gym. “Are you here after work too?” He tried to remember if Jeff had spoken about Fleur having a career.
She grinned. “This is my work. I’m a gym instructor. Yoga, Pilates and CrossFit. Sometimes Aqua Aerobics, too.”
“Wow. That’s great. You must enjoy it.”
“I love it,” she said with a simple honesty he found appealing. As much as he’d been driven to get ahead in his army career, he didn’t think he could ever have said those words with the obvious contentment she did.
“I’d just finished my training when Jeff died,” she continued, “so working has been a real help. Gave me something outside to focus on. That and my faith.” Her hand went subconsciously back to the cross around her neck.
Callum felt a pang of something that was close to envy. He’d never really understood faith, though he’d been taken to church services and attended Sunday School as a kid. That had been his father, keeping up appearances, rather than through any real commitment or belief. As far as Callum knew, his parents now only went to church at Christmas and Easter.
“I don’t know much about that,” he admitted, wishing suddenly he’d paid more attention in Sunday School. He realised he wanted to impress Fleur, but wasn’t sure why. Something about her drew him, and it wasn’t just the fact that she was extremely attractive. Was it a sense of guilt about Jeff that made him feel almost protective towards her? Although the explosion hadn’t been his fault, he always retained a sense of responsibility for the men he’d lost. Losing men was something he’d never been able to get used to.
For an instant, wistfulness stole into her expression. “That’s a pity.” There was another silence before she smiled apologetically. “It was lovely seeing you, Lieutenant...Callum, but please excuse me. I’ve got to get back for the kids.”
Callum didn’t know if he imagined the expectant note in her words, but found himself asking, “Would you like to go for lunch sometime? You said it was nice to talk to someone from...back then. And, well, I don’t really know anyone here off base.”
It seemed an age before she answered, and Callum thought he’d misread her completely and was starting to wish the ground would swallow him up, when she nodded and gave that shy smile again. “That would be nice. Here,” she swung her gym bag off her shoulder and reached into it, “here’s my card.”
“Thank you very much,” he said, and then chastised himself for being so formal. He took the card and tucked it into the pocket of his shorts.
“Right, well. See you.” She gave him one last smile before turning and heading down the road.
“Bye.” He lifted his hand and watched her go, feeling bemused at their encounter. Such a coincidence that he’d bumped into her the day after dreaming about Jeff.
That was why he felt drawn to her. And it’d be nice to have at least an acquaintance here who wasn’t from the base. Yes, that was it.
The fact that she was extremely attractive and made him feel like a nervous schoolboy had nothing to do with it at all.

Main Tropes

  • Christian Romance
  • Opposites Attract
  • Inspiring
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What Readers Say....

  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    "This is a wonderful heartwarming book of faith, courage, perseverance, and love. Juliette Duncan did a wonderful job of weaving the story of Brendan Miller a teacher and a part-time youth pastor as well as a widowed father of a small child, and Sasha Jackson, a highly regarded environmental scientist who come together in the small town of Deep River. Together they save a piece of land save an endangered species as they face, adversity and fear by leaning on their faith, standing on their Bible as truth this couple comes out victorious finding love together! I like this book so much but I will go back and read the whole Transform By Love series again!" Melissa M

  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    "A truly inspirational story! Sasha is a special lady. When she comes to Deep River her life and the lives of many will change. Brendan is trying to raise his son and doesn’t expect to ever be interested in another woman. The characters in this book are all very special people. You will feel God working throughout this wonderful book." Deb J

  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    "Sasha is an environmental scientist who comes to Deep River to survey because a developer wants to change the area. He has made it known that Sasha works for him, which she does not! Brendan is the local music teacher and has taken it on himself to protect Sasha in the deeply divided town. A fascinating story with suspense and some romance. A sweet, clean, must read!" Jan T