This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Military Romance
Published by Love Swept
Released on September 9, 2014
Sandcastles on the beach, splashing in the sea, ice cream, four adorable children, playing dress up, bedtime tuck-ins, playing catch, two people fated from the first moment it seemed, military hero, and a heroine who never came first with anyone. Wanted to read it as soon as I saw all these things. I felt so many things from this story about a lonely, guilt-ridden man finding a whole family to love and need him. The reader is pulled through a full spectrum of emotions and a story made up of peaks and valleys that kept my heart in the story to the very end.
Matt McKinney, Navy SEAL, is on leave, reluctantly. He feels he is recovered from his last injury, but his captain feels otherwise so here he is fulfilling a favor to his cousin to be his wingman. Rob’s gal brought a pal with her to meet them at the beach, but for once Matt isn’t into hot and easy. He’s reached an age where the casual hook-ups are empty and hollow to him. He comes from a large, boisterous Irish family and his siblings are marrying and having kids around him. Matt wants that too. His eyes stray to the widowed mother of four that has brought her children to the beach and says she can do for herself though he can see clearly that she needs another set of hands that he is glad to offer if she’d stop pushing him away and let him.
Abby Davis has learned the hard way that people don’t stay- not her parents, not any of the foster parents and definitely not her deceased husband. All through her marriage he put his work first and wasn’t even there with the kids from their birth and so on. She has learned to be strong and do for herself never letting anyone in. Unfortunately, the big handsome guy her family met on the beach won’t be fobbed off by her manner and the kids are crazy over him. He amazes her the way he plays with the kids and how solicitous he is. He could have any woman he wants and yet he chooses to be with her and four little kids. Is he for real?
After she gets home and Matt maintains contact, Abby is still marveling. She can’t dare let herself hope with each new visit and call. The kids have faith, but she can’t.
Matt is just as conflicted about what he has going with Abby. He is a SEAL and his missions take him suddenly and far away, but he wants more than anything to be that man who is there for Abby and the kids.
When I started this story, I started forming impressions and making predictions of where I thought it was going to go. At first, it seemed that I had it pegged right. Then it walked off the predictable path to romance and took me to someplace much deeper and more meaningful when all was said and done. From what I thought was just a light romance that included a strong military hero and a bunch of adorable kids, I got a story of redemption, forgiveness and the strength of acceptance and family. The road to love and happiness was not easy for these two hurting souls (or should I say six because the kids were definitely in need too) and I ended up wanting it for them so badly.
Upon meeting Abby, I thought she was just another typical romance heroine with commitment issues and sighed with impatience to see how long the push-pull thing would play out before she had her epiphany and finally accepted the handsome treasure that fate had dropped in her lap. Then her history started to be revealed and I could have bopped myself for my callous disregard for a situation that was truly a legit reason to have trust and commitment issues. Abby lost her parents at a very young age- her mom in a horrific manner- and then grew up in the foster care system being bounced from home to home until she finished out in a group home. I forget the clinical term for it when it comes to a kid that has shut down and can’t attach, but she was one of those even though on the outside she looks like a very put together widowed mother. Her attraction to Matt and the evidence of his tender loving care before her eyes could only carry her so far. It became really suspenseful to see if she could push past this issue with not being able to attach or love which of course added something new and unique to the story.
Matt had his own issues though they weren’t as severe as Abby’s. He is running around with a strong case of survivor’s guilt which is what causes him not to jump with both feet into a relationship with Abby even though he falls into love pretty quickly with her. Everyone pushed him to let his friend’s death go and reach for happiness, but he was so imprisoned by his guilt that he almost tossed away the woman and family he loved. Of course a big twist in the plot came that had him stuck making an even tougher decision almost costing him all he held dear.
The attraction came quickly, but this romance had a long bumpy road to the Happily Ever After. This story was only half over when they started feeling love because as I detailed out above, they had so much to work through. It was passionate and there is a bit of spice though they had to sneak their time in between kid and life interruptions.
I confess that having a very pregnant heroine was a unique experience or that the hero was so attracted, but Matt’s interest isn’t like a guy with a kink for pregnant female bodies. Family is super important to him and he’s hitting his mid-thirties while in a dangerous career. He’s a natural protector and nurturer not to mention his parents taught him to be like that. He comes from a large Catholic Irish family where love, laughter, family togetherness and babies are all important.
In a nutshell, this was a very satisfying read. Those who enjoy military romance, romances that include adorable kid moments and romances that aren’t easy, but worth it, well here you go. I look forward to returning to more stories with the McKinney family particularly for those brothers that are still running loose and single.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.