Air Force sergeant Michael Baldwin wanted nothing more than to escape his family’s political ambitions, but his dream of freedom was shattered by an enemy bullet to the head.
Two years later, he and his service dog, Kaylee, resist his father’s demand to join him on the campaign trail—where a photogenic “wounded warrior” is always an asset—and instead return to the family’s summer home on Hartsbridge Island.
There Michael and his beautiful German shepherd capture the attention of Josh Goldberg, co-owner of the local bagel shop. Josh has a knack for business and a killer repertoire of his bubbe’s recipes. But lack of education undermines his confidence, and Josh’s father doesn’t share his ambition for the restaurant’s future.
Chicken soup and bacon might be the way to Michael’s heart, but he and Josh need time to learn about everything that comes after—lessons that Governor Baldwin and his relentless ambition will do anything to thwart. Letting someone in is a tall order for two men who can’t trust themselves, but if they have any hope of a future together, that’s exactly what they’ll need to do.
A brilliant, humbling, simple tale that’s full of all things decent, sweet, good and human.
This is a very readable book detailing pretty much in slowmo how these guys meet, what goes through their heads, how their relationship comes into being, how they both open up to each other and how they support each other mentally, sometimes physically and certainly emotionally. The slowmo part I mention is deliberate, as, at the start, I wondered why the tale was so slow, but I think that ended up adding realism and making it deeper.
We saw the real struggles of Michael, left with aphasia following a bullet to the head, and his determination to live a life away from the strings attached and wielded by his wealthy family. We saw ‘ordinary’ guy Josh overcome his insecurities about his looks and larger frame, and his inability to read. We saw what real family should be like, and we saw an example of family life that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, it was so superficial, so condemning, strings-attached and judgmental. We saw the guys in a real relationship that needed time to grow and strengthen until both were ready to commit, and best of all, we saw them living that HEA, having made positive changes to their lives that fulfilled both of them, and we saw them with a ‘chosen’ family.
The PTSD was portrayed realistically and from reading more than one book on this them, and concerning aphasia, it seems as if the author has done her research very well. I thought the service dog element was spot on, as was the chat that Josh and his dad had over going into a relationship eyes open, knowing that that’s the price to pay for happiness, or for a chance at happiness.
My review doesn’t make this book exciting, and that’s because, with respect to the author, as this is not a criticism, it is not exciting. It is an absorbing, emotional, humbling and sweet tale that felt very real. I ended up loving it.
Star Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ARC provided by Riptide Publishing in return for an honest review.
Meet Jordan S. Brock
Coffee-fueled author Jordan Brock writes engaging contemporary romance with a deliciously pan-romantic sensibility and an emphasis on consent, respect, and, of course, love. Her characters are constantly surprised by the way love’s slow burn sneaks up on them.
Jordan’s children are all four-legged and furry. They love to be oh-so-helpful with her writing. She can usually be found hiding from the sun with her service dog and her puppy-in-training. (She tried the training thing with cats first, since cats are so much smarter, but it was a no-go.)
Before she was published, Jordan worked as a tech writer in the semiconductor industry. She’s also created labs and learning materials for auto, diesel , and motorcycle mechanics. The technology was the easy part; the hard part was trying not to slip in pop-culture snark.
Jordan lives in the desert outside Phoenix, Arizona, despite the fact she turns into gray goo and blue hair dye when exposed to heat. For fun, she hunts scorpions in the backyard, with a blowtorch, and a crowbar. She’s chronically unavailable for at least a month after new game releases from Blizzard. She’s an unapologetic fangirl and has been known to write an occasional fanfic to prove Bucky Barnes is not a villain. Oh, and she crochets the cutest amigurumi ever.
If you’d like to learn more about Jordan, check out her blog and website at jordansbrock.com.
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