I’ve been impressed by how the previous books in this family series (Twelve Days, Edge of Heaven and Bed of Lies) have incorporated the backstory into the development of the characters, and I wondered how that would play out for the youngest member of the family. Grace shares the same tragic history as her siblings, but she was adopted at so young an age, she doesn’t share their bad memories. Unlike them, she’s known nothing but a loving family all her life.
But like them, she feels a sense of responsibility to her family — she’s the lucky one, the happy one, the one often known as “Sunshine” and “Angel.” And at a time in her life when she feels far from happy or lucky — widowed, with the knowledge that her husband was cheating on her — she doesn’t know how to be around her concerned family any more. This is when she runs into Aidan Shaw (who I guess must look like this.) A Naval officer, Aidan has borrowed Grace’s family’s rural cabin while he recovers from a very bad “incident” in Afghanistan. (He’s theoretically also sort of hiding out, but this very mild suggestion of a suspense element goes nowhere and should just have been left out, in my opinion.)
Grace and Aidan get close very quickly, despite both feeling too messed up to really be in a relationship. Aidan’s suffering from mild PTSD, bad physical injuries, survivor’s guilt and — most interestingly — impotence. He’s not magically cured, either (he does have surgery eventually) and for most of the book they’re quite sexually creative. (It turns out that Aidan can still get aroused and have orgasms, which surprises them as much as it did me, but unless the author and I were both reading the same incorrect internet pages, it is possible.)
I didn’t think Grace’s issues were developed enough, which was one disappointment I had with the story. And I just couldn’t get into Aidan falling instantly and madly in love with Grace and finding her utterly perfect; despite being a fan of romance, I find that level of adoration boring, and it doesn’t feel that sincere or believable to me. When he tells Grace about her husband’s lover, a younger woman who unquestioningly adored him, the parallels struck me, if not them.
So I didn’t love this one, though I did think the impotence storyline was fresh and interesting. Other than that, I think the part that made me happiest was a throwaway line about an offscreen character — the foster child whom Grace’s parents had originally hoped to adopt, but who went back to his mother. He’s now a family friend. The part of me that always worried about whether Aslan saved the stone picknickers is happy to know that.