BEST FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
For two people who aren't in love -- and don't plan to be -- Poppy McCabe and Air Force Captain Trace Caulder have pretty amazing chemistry. And now the longtime buddies and sometime lovers are about to get their most passionate wish: becoming the adoptive parents of twin babies! The catch? They have to get married.
For two people who prize their independence above all else, a pre-Christmas wedding with all the trimmings could be a major game changer. Suddenly, Trace wants to be there for Poppy 24/7. Except he's stationed overseas. So he only has a thirty-day leave to convince the woman who shares his complicated past that they can have it all: family and forever!
Good book. Poppy and Trace have been friends since they were in high school and occasional lovers since they were in college. Though she never plans to marry, Poppy really wants to be a mother, and Trace has been more than happy to help her fulfill that wish. Unable to get pregnant, they have been selected to be the parents of twin babies. But the birth mother and the adoption agency would prefer that they are married.
Both Poppy and Trace are very independent people. As the oldest in her family, and the only single born one, Poppy grew up depending on herself rather than trying to fight for attention from her parents. She sees marriage as another dependent relationship and wants nothing to do with it. Trace's parents have been married multiple times so he figures he's a bad bet for a marriage of his own. Their relationship is one of friendship and mutual respect. Trace will do whatever he can to help Poppy achieve her dream, and if that means marriage, he'll do it.
The relationship between them is very interesting. Though they think they are friends with benefits who will also be co-parenting, neither has been in a relationship with anyone else in years. The sudden requirement to be married has them both looking at their relationship through new eyes, but neither is sharing what they feel. I loved Trace's reaction to a proxy marriage and the idea of someone else standing in his place while they exchange vows. The surprise he pulled off was pretty sweet, and a good indication of what his feelings really were, even if he wasn't ready to admit it yet. Poppy looks at Trace and realizes that she wants more from their relationship, but has spent so long denying her feelings that now she doesn't know how to tell him the truth. She's afraid of making him feel trapped, and he doesn't want her to think that she has to give everything up for him.
I liked seeing how the home visits and interviews with the social worker are used to get Poppy and Trace talking about the things that have made them who they are. Poppy's exposure to other military wives has her thinking about what the future could hold for them if she stops holding so tight to her own desires. Meanwhile, Trace starts to realize that his own dreams are changing and that he has some decisions of his own to make. I loved the solution he came up with, though it wasn't really a surprise given his activities while he was on leave. There was also an interesting twist at the end that took both of them by surprise. I loved seeing them both accept what everyone around them had always seen - that they belonged together.
My only real quibble with the book as a whole was that the back of the book called Trace a captain, while he was referred to as a lieutenant in the book itself. Captain made much more sense, as at the age of thirty-five, he was too old to still be a lieutenant. Overall, it is a small gripe and likely an editing slipup.