I was so excited yet a bit scared when I found out that Rebecca Yarros had written another book in the Flight & Glory series about Josh and Ember! They are hands down my favorite couple from this series, so while I wanted more from them I was also worried about where their story could go from where we had left them. Unfortunately, Hallowed Ground was really hard for me because while I loved Ember and Josh, I really began to dislike both of them here. While the previous three books can all be read as standalones, I would recommend reading this one only after you have read the others or at least Full Measures. I almost wish that I hadn't read this book though, as it soured me a bit on one of my favorite couples.
After everything that Josh Walker and December Howard have been through, they are about to start their lives together. Engaged and happy, they are moving in together and embracing their future together. As Ember heads toward graduation she has a huge opportunity to work on a dig, only the location is in Turkey. Josh is now a helicopter pilot, and although the last thing Ember wanted after losing her dad was to continue the Army lifestyle, she knew she would stand by Josh no matter what. But when one incident changes everything, Ember and Josh must fight for their relationship more than ever before and they begin to realize that sometimes love isn't enough to overcome some obstacles.
I have loved Josh and Ember from the very first book in this series. They have been my favorites and they were always the ones I felt were the strongest when it came to connections and chemistry. But this book changed that for me, and I felt like the disconnect between them was huge here. They weren't the same couple I remembered, and while I expected some of that I didn't expect for it to feel like there was such a massive divide between them as there was here. Josh wasn't the same loving and supportive guy that helped Ember heal after losing her father. He was selfish and reckless, and had no problems leaving Ember. He was clearly going through a lot, but he let everyone in but Ember. I didn't like that she was made to compromise everything, and when she would ask for one thing he would do the opposite. I lost so much respect for him. Then we have Ember who had come back from so much, and was a strong heroine that embraced a life with Josh she hadn't wanted because of her love for him. But here she was made to be weak, and as though she was a doormat for him to walk all over. Yes she did a few things for herself, but only because she was left with no choice. She would do whatever Josh wanted or go in whichever direction he pushed her in and I ended up losing respect for her as well. She gave so much, and honestly she wasn't getting much if anything in return.
Overall, I was so disappointed here. While I still loved these two together and liked them, I didn't have the same respect and admiration for them. So much changed here, and I really just felt like these characters were a shell of their former selves. They should have been maturing with age and growing into their relationship as they headed to the altar, and yet they seemed to have lost all their magic here. Even towards the end with the epilogue and how things ended, it just didn't feel as satisfying as it should have. I felt like this whole book just tainted their relationship and I didn't like how they had been in this book at all. While I understand that things happen and change a relationship in unexpected ways, it was the way they each dealt with those things and how they treated one another that bothered me here. They could have come back from anything and it was clear they still loved one another despite it all, but I wish I would have just remembered them as they were rather than seeing how they were here.
**ARC Provided by Publisher**