"He'll help unleash the new woman in her. . ."
Special Ops soldier Griffin Reid doesn't exactly have happy memories of growing up in Sunshine, Idaho. He's only come back to recover from a war injury, and while he refuses to admit he's in a weakened state, he finds comfort in the last person he'd expect.
Kate Evans teaches fourth grade science in Sunshine, the place she's always called home. Dreaming of graduate school and a happily-ever-after, she's desperate to break out of the monotony of Sunshine. Luckily, a certain sexy man has just come back into her life.
To Griffin, Kate has always been his little sister's friend, but now he's finding her to be so much more. As both attempt to forge their paths, they must decide if their passionate connection can turn into something lasting. . .
Very good book. I've been looking forward to this story since the scene in the previous book (Rescue My Heart) when Kate burst in on Holly while she was having a Skype conversation with her brother Griffin. The part where she's hiding because she stripped off her shirt before she knew he could see her was hysterical. It was obvious that she's had a thing for him for a long time, and it seems like he is looking too.
At the start of this book, Griffin has come back to Sunshine for Holly's wedding. He hasn't told anyone that he's left the military with a medical discharge, thanks to a close encounter with an IED. His plan is to use the time to recover and think about what job offer he is going to take. He doesn't plan to stay in Sunshine for long, as his memories aren't the best. He had been a troublemaker of a teen, and constantly butted heads with his father. He couldn't wait to leave Sunshine back then, but now he'd like a chance to make peace with his past. The first person he sees is Kate, who he's suddenly seeing as more than his sister's best friend. He's attracted, even though she's nothing like the women he's usually interested in. Holly warns him to leave Kate alone, but Kate herself seems to have other ideas.
Kate has lived in Sunshine all her life. After her mother's death a few years earlier, Kate became the mother figure to her whole family, putting her own needs and dreams aside. Lately she's been feeling the loneliness and has tried multiple ways to find the relationship that's right for her. Griffin's arrival just makes the feelings worse. She's still got the crush on him she's had for years, but she knows nothing will come of it. Griffin won't be staying in Sunshine and she won't be leaving any time soon. But she does talk herself into trying to seduce him into giving her a little of the fun and adventure she craves. Of course, being Kate, it doesn't go as she plans.
I loved the two of them together. Griffin is a bit on the lost side, under the tough soldier exterior that he shows to everyone. The effects of his injuries make him vulnerable, a feeling he absolutely hates. I loved seeing Kate take him in hand and give him the care he needs, even as he tries to fight it. He starts out intending to stay only long enough for the wedding, but something about Kate has him putting off his departure. He looks at her and sees how much she gives of herself to everyone else, without asking for anything for her. I really enjoyed seeing him make it his mission to help her. I loved the way he got involved with her little brother, and found himself doing things with her and for her that he never would have imagined. I loved the part where he went to her classroom for career day, and also the day he taught the kids how to be a team. As they grow closer, he starts to think that maybe staying in Sunshine wouldn't be such a bad thing, until a family secret comes out that makes him question everything about himself. Then he has to decide if he's going to run again or fight for what he wants. This part was so emotional, and I ached so much for Griffin and the pain he was going through.
Kate was adorable. She's a nurturer to her family, worried about how they would manage if she weren't there. She's a fantastic science teacher, with students that adore her. She also has an incredible opportunity that she just has to reach out and grab, but her fears are holding her back. She's had this huge crush on Griffin for years, but every time she gets near him her nerves get the better of her. I loved how she spouts random science facts whenever she gets nervous, and how much Griffin likes it when she does. She wants Griffin however she can get him. She knows he's not planning to stay, but she'll take the fun she can. As she gets to spend more time with him, she has to admit to herself that she wants more from him than just the physical. I loved seeing the way she could tell when he was getting one of his headaches and how she took care of him. She was really good at making him do what she said at those times. The closer she gets to him and the more she cares, the more she worries about what's going to happen when he leaves. Just as things start to look like she may get everything she wants, his crisis looks like it's going to tear them apart after all. I liked seeing that she had an inner strength that she hadn't suspected and wasn't going to wallow in her misery. It made the ending that much better, as both of them overcame their obstacles to find their way back to each other.
As always, I loved the various family and friend relationships. I loved the friendship between Holly and Kate, even when it made Holly try to warn Kate and Griffin away from each other. She was also there for Kate when she was needed. I loved the friendship between Adam and Griffin. It was really shown in the scene with Adam and Kate talking after they'd put Griffin to bed during one of his headaches. Kate's family was really interesting, and though I wanted to shake them sometimes, especially her father, they were still a loving family. Her brother Tommy was a trip, both typical for his age and yet with a really unique personality. I loved the way he connected with Griffin and the effect Griffin had on him. Griffin's relationship with his father was one that had the most growing and changing to do.