The Marine’s Embrace
by Beth Andrews
If only he had something to give her…besides love
He’s only looking for a room and a fresh start, but Zach finds more than he’d bargained for when he checks into Fay Lindemuth’s bed-and-breakfast. The single mom intrigues him with her quiet strength and gentle beauty. He knows he should keep his distance from Fay and her young sons. Not only is she still hung up on her ex-husband, but as an ex-marine, Zach Castro has no idea what he can offer them. No matter how much he begins to feel for her…
Phew–this one was a tough one to read at times. A very realistic (or so it appears from the outside, anyway) portrayal of depression–sometimes it was all too easy to be tempted to adapt the attitude of Fay’s friends and family: why can’t she just leave her ex at the curb, already? Get over him and move on? OMG, especially at the beginning I just wanted to shake her–but yeah, I completely understand why she had to find her way to putting him in the past by herself. I loved watching her discover her inner strength (mostly) on her own–Zach helped point her in the right direction, definitely, but it was very much Fay’s own struggle and triumph. Their romance is almost an afterthought to the bigger struggles they’re both dealing with–her depression, toxic ex, and dependence on others; his moving on with his life after losing an arm and a leg in the Marines–but truly, that’s how it needed to be. There’s much more to them finding their HEA than just discovering the right person to make that journey with.
Though I’d really like to see more of them as they continue on their way–perhaps Josie could have her own book, and Fay and Zach could be secondary characters? (And that’s something I never thought I’d even consider at the beginning of this one, since Josie’s the nineteen-year-old Fay’s reprehensible ex impregnated and then left in a hotel room far from everything she knew…but hey, right in the same town as his ex and their two kids. Total prince…though Josie herself didn’t quite seem like a sympathetic character at first. Until suddenly, she was.)
I definitely appreciated the fact that Fay’s two boys weren’t model children. The oldest was a bit of a mouthy brat used to getting his own way, and the youngest had a tendency to be on the timid side (though he could give his brother as good as he got when needed). It all fit with their mother’s self esteem issues and struggles with depression. Underneath it all, they’re sweet boys–hopefully as Fay continues to grow stronger and under Zach’s positive influence they’ll straighten up. They showed promise when Zach let them help in the kitchen (some of my favorite scenes, btw.)
I’ve gotten behind in the In Shady Grove series–clearly it’s time to catch up!
Rating: 4 stars / B+
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.