By Lexi Whitlow
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I married Summer to save her life, and then I was forced to break her heart.
I’m back in town, and I’m never letting her go again.
She’s the woman who changed me.
She’s my wife, and she’s going to have my baby.
He told me he’d always protect me. Then he disappeared without a trace.
Jonathan Ash is not the kind of man you marry.
He’s a fierce, hard-bodied, tattooed, womanizing mafia soldier.
Me and Ash? We were done three years ago.
But Ash is waving around a marriage certificate that proves otherwise.
He says he deserves a chance.
He says he wants me to have our baby.
And he’s not signing any f*cking divorce papers.
Before I launch full-steam into the review, it’s worth noting that the story concept and follow-through could bump the rating to 4.5 stars, but the proofreading-type errors proved to be a bit more distracting than I liked. The book also started out a bit slower than I typically like, part of which I blamed on trying to get accustomed to the presentation of the material (i.e. first half of the chapter referred back three years and then the second half took place in the present; each chapter switched character point-of-view, as well, between Ash and Summer). This compelled me to rate it four stars.
Once I got into the rhythm of the book about quarter of the way in and started following the histories of the two main characters, Ash and Summer, and then the relationship between the Irish Mafia and Summer’s Aunt Bianca, I found the story moved along at a steady pace, though every once in a while the story would jump several weeks or months into the future. History is, however, the foundation of this story and a clear understanding of it was necessary for the evolution of Ash and Summer’s relationship.
Summer’s character seemed to be a haunted one – she was tormented by how she and Ash were separated when she left for a three-year stint with Doctors without Borders in Syria and the Ukraine, troubled by both her aunt’s and mother’s financial woes, grief-stricken after suffering an ectopic pregnancy, the surgical removal of her left ovary and subsequent supposed infertility, and then heartbroken over losing Ash – and she replays these scenarios over in-depth and at length. I had a difficult time connecting and identifying with Summer, though, in the beginning because frankly, Ash seemed to have changed and really wanted to be with her and she continued to be hung up on stuff that she shouldn’t have been hung up on if she cared for him as much as she claimed. As the story evolves, I found myself coming to terms with Summer as it became clear what her motivations were for acting the way she did towards Ash when she returned back to the States. Ash appears to be cold and non-emotional as the book starts, but as we learn about him and accept that he’s still a bad*ss, it becomes evident that he has always loved Summer and wanted to protect her. He is now willing to do anything – even be patient and bide his time, at least a little bit, to get Summer back. He has changed his ways, quit numerous vices and is trying to be on the straight and up, and he hasn’t even cast an eye at another woman since Summer left. Ash truly loves her. Oh, and the sex scenes? Hot damn.
Whitlow does a good job of developing characters, and the plot is solid and compelling. Though I did guess what was going to happen with the Summer/Biana/Cullen storyline, the twist on family ties was handled expertly and the long-term results (the will) added a satisfying karma-type element when all was said and done. Certain parts of the story seemed rushed or brushed over and, as mentioned earlier, it’s important for the reader to take note of the time sequence noted at the start of each chapter.
Ash really, truly loved Summer and as his softer side came forth, you can’t help but like him. And a puppy? And wanting to do all he can to prolong the divorce proceedings so he can win Summer back, not to mention bailing out her mom’s bed and breakfast, stating he wants to have a family with her and walking her home from the hospital? And that he didn’t sleep with another woman for the three years she was gone? Wow. I’ll take him if she doesn’t want him!
When I look at that woman and who she’s become, I see the future I never knew I wanted.
“I spent a long time thinking you didn’t want me enough to stay beside me, Ash. Why should I give you a chance now?”
“Because I want you. I always did. I want you so bad I can barely breathe when I look at you. Because I came here to find you and build a life. And a man that does that deserves a chance.”
Instead, I’m going to somehow undermine my boss to save her – even if it means sacrificing myself. These aren’t the kinds of thoughts I like to have about a woman, but the primal piece, deep inside of me, needs to protect Summer. The men in the Family talk about women belonging to them. I always thought it sounded like a bunch of pussy bullshit, but when I look at Summer now, I get it.
I want it.
Review originally posted on Amazon and Goodreads on May 26, 2016.