She was a mother, a widow. To a lot of people, she’d discovered, those two titles took precedence over being a woman.
It is no secret I loved the heck out of the first in this series and with a pairing I was worried/not feeling (sister-in-law/brother-in-law), this was always going to have a hard time measuring up.
The writing is superb, no problems there, but the components just weren't to my personal liking.
This is, by my guess, 30-40ish% our main couple Jackson and Sadia and 70-60ish% family issues/drama; for a very long time it feels way more contemporary fiction romance instead of what I was anticipating for romance contemporary fiction.
The lusting from Sadia starts right away and the comments she makes in the first 20% felt almost immature (when she realizes the mystery man is Jackson) because of the issues/relationship between them. It was hard for me to move from the emotional pain and relationship complexities to Sadia saying hot Jackson's butt was. After the 20% those kind of comments and tone kind of fade off, to the betterment, I think.
As with Livvy (we get snippets of her and Nicholas here!), I thought Sadia was a great complex, multi-faceted heroine. Her inner family stresses along with grief, motherhood, money, and sexual desires are laid out so bare and real. It feels weird to wax poetic about a "normal" woman character as if other heroines aren't "normal", because what is normal and all that but dang it, I feel like I don't read a lot of normal heroines. Sadia is all of it, a mother, stressed, a daughter, horny, a sister, a list maker, bisexual, a widower, hurt, and etc. Loved her character.
I love me some broody, quiet, and strong types and while Jackson was all of that and a muscle tattooed bag of chips, he felt too closed off to me as the reader; I selfishly like to be let in, as the reader, before or more than the other book characters. His shyness for being such a big dude was refreshing and endearing but I never reached a solid place of "knowing" his character.
This line had me primal screaming/giddy/high:
There was a reason he’d never gotten along with many men—these absurd power plays were too foolish.
How bleeping amazing to have men relationships/dynamics called into the spotlight instead of the tired "women can't be friends because of jealously and/or competitiveness". I don't know, some justice was served for me with this line, lol.
It was a little tough to wade through the family drama and dynamics that steal the time and show from Sadia and Jackson. Tough because I wanted more romance/relationship from them but if I had gone in with the expectation of more contemp fiction, the writing and characterization is amazing. At around the 55% mark Sadia and Jackson's relationship heats up with some voyeurism and it is sexually on from there. It felt a little packed in (get your mind out of the gutter) with the sex scenes so grouped together but the emotional baggage of the sis/bro-in-law probably required the wait, I just would have liked them to have more talking/together scenes before.
Anyway, if looking for a fantastically written family drama with some explicit sex scenes this should be your next purchase. There were some Gabe and Eve appearances in this and I'm dying to see them together in the next book.
“It’s hard to make your peace with someone who isn’t around anymore. Or more accurately, to make your peace with never making your peace.” She smiled sadly. “But sometimes it’s the only thing you can do.”