WHEN THE ONE YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED. . .
At sixteen, Annabelle Morgan hoped her crush on Jake Wilder was just a passing phase. Now she's twenty-nine and nothing has changed -- except Jake. The once-carefree Marine has come home with a giant chip on his shoulder. He insists a single mom like Annie deserves more than he can offer. Yet no matter how gruff his gorgeous exterior may be, Jake's toe-curling kisses convince her that this attraction is definitely mutual.
BECOMES THE ONE WHO WANTS YOU BACK . . .
Butting heads with feisty Annie was always a thrill. Add other body parts to the mix, and Jake is in serious trouble. He can't be a forever-and-family guy -- and Annie's not a friends-with-benefits kind of woman. But love has a way of changing the best-laid plans, and surrender has never been so tempting . . .
THE OUTCOME IS TRULY SWEET.
Annie has had a crush on Jake since she was sixteen. Even leaving Sweet for a few years did nothing to reduce her feelings for him. Now she's back in Sweet, with a toddler son and trying to get her own life back together. Jake's return brings back all her old fantasies about him.
I loved the relationship between Jake and Annie. They had been friends when they were younger, able to talk to each other about anything. As they got older the relationship changed, as Jake got a bit on the wild side and Annie had no trouble calling him out when he was being a jerk. Annie hates the changes she's seen in him since he got back, but refuses to coddle him. Jake has always seen her as just his friend until his first encounter with her after his return. Suddenly he sees her as a woman and his attraction to her freaks him out.
I hurt for Jake as his guilt over his friend's death has affected the way he looks at his life now. Before it happened, he was a fun loving guy who loved his family, was great with kids, and had plans for his future. Now, every time he's around kids all he can think about is that his friend is not going to see his child grow up. Jake is so eaten up with guilt that he hasn't even been able to visit his friend's widow, and that makes him feel even worse. He's attracted to Annie and could have feelings for her if he'd allow it, but feels that he's too broken to give her what she deserves. Fortunately for him, she's not ready to give up on him.
I loved Annie. In spite of all the things that have gone wrong in her life she refuses to give in to it. She is determined to be a good mother to Max and give him the best life she can. She also doesn't put up with any crap from Jake. She can see that he is hurting and challenges him to take control of his life. She can also see that he is just as attracted to her as she is to him.
I enjoyed seeing the changes in their relationship. Jake is, at first, more interested in just the physical attraction to Annie, but also realizes that she's not booty call material. Annie wants him just as much as he wants her, but isn't going to settle for less than she feels she deserves. I really enjoyed seeing how she knew just when to push Jake and when to back off to make him see what he needed to do. There were several fantastic examples of this, my favorite being when she talked him into going to the animal shelter to look at dogs. Eventually her love for him gave Jake the confidence to face his demons. His visit with his friend's widow was incredibly emotional. I loved his big moment at the end when he was finally able to offer all of himself to Annie.
I also loved the closeness of the Wilder family. All of the guys served their time in the Marines, and each one was affected by it. This gave them another bond with each other because each understood what the others had experienced. I really enjoyed the teasing that went on with the knowledge that serious support was always available if needed. One of my favorite characters was the Wilder's mother, Jana. With the experience of raising all those boys she had a wonderful way of cutting through the testosterone and making her point. It was lovely to see her get her own happy ending. There was an unexpected surprise on her wedding day and it was heartwarming to see the effect it had on everyone.