Friday, August 19, 2016

The Marine's Embrace - Beth Andrews (HS #2044 - Aug 2016)

Series: In Shady Grove (Book 8)

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…

Good book, with unusually realistic look at depression and its effects on a person's entire life. We first see Fay as she has awakened from sleeping with her ex-husband, to find that he is attempting to sneak away. She is rather whiny, begging him not to go, and wondering what she did wrong. Shane is cold, making excuses, and leaves without even a nice word. Fay doesn't understand his actions, since she's so sure that they are going to get back together. Shortly after that, she begins to descend into a funk, but has to pull herself together to take care of her boys.

At this point I really wanted to shake her, smack her, tell her to open her eyes. Shane is only using her, and she can't see it. However, we do start to learn that Fay has a real problem with self esteem and depression, and I began to feel a bit sorry for her. Though I still wanted her to wake up and see the truth, I could see that it was going to be a struggle for her.

Zach has come to Shady Grove to try to get his own life back together. He lost an arm and a leg in the Marines and is trying to figure out what comes next. One of his half brothers lives in Shady Grove, and Zach gets a job working for him. His relationship with his half brothers has been a bit rocky, as Zach is the illegitimate one. He holds great resentment against his father because of the way his mother was treated. I liked the way that he and Kane came to an understanding, with Kane treating Zach as any other employee. Zach's independence comes through when he refuses the apartment over the pub, and instead looks for his own lodging. He ends up at Fay's B&B.

Their initial meeting is a little rough. Fay thinks he looks dangerous, with her imagination off and running. Zach thinks she's a bit flaky, but eventually accepts a room. Then he witnesses a visit (more like a confrontation) from her ex-husband's pregnant fiancee. She's in shock and he helps her out, but realizes that she has more issues than he thought. He figures that, even though he's attracted to her, it's better to stay away from her. Even so, he again comes to her aid when he witnesses her trying to gather the courage to confront Shane while being fussed at by her best friend. I liked the way that he stepped in and rather than telling her what to do the way everyone else does, tells her what her options are and that what she does is up to her and no one else.

This is the beginning of an interesting relationship. Zach is drawn to her in spite of her problems. They become friends, with Zach connecting with her sons and being the kind of example their father isn't. He and Fay become workout buddies, as he helps her see that exercise can help with her moods. All the time, we see how close Zach is getting to her, and how much he starts to care. Fay is getting closer to Zach also, and his influence helps her break the cycle with Shane. Her feelings for him start to grow, but she's not sure that she can believe what she feels is real. She gathers the courage to make advances to him, but then panics the next morning and pushes him away. I ached for Zach because he cared so much and her reaction hurt him badly. I loved that it was the pregnant ex-fiancee that pointed out to Fay what an idiot she was being, and that if she wanted Zach she was going to have to go after him. I enjoyed her big moment at the end and seeing the beginnings of the woman she could be, and the one that Zach has seen all along.

I really liked Fay's sons. Like most kids, they are pretty adaptable, and they soon accept Zach just as he is. There are several really great scenes as they interact with him in their own styles. I also loved seeing how he treats them when they're being obnoxious little twits.

I did not like Maddie at all in this book. She treated Fay like she was an idiot and kept telling her what to do instead of supporting her. I liked seeing Zach tell her off, and Fay finally stand up to her. It was an eye opening experience for Maddie.

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