Nate Calhoun has come home. He joined the Army, was recruited to Special Forces, and is back home, discharged, thanks to an injury that left him with a bum leg and a friend dead. His time in Afghanistan, the mission that went bad, still haunt him deeply, and now he's home with a bunch of well-meaning family who want to help but are actually just making things worse. Entering into the fray is former sweetheart Sarah Anderson. They were a couple all through high school, and she stood by his side when he joined the Army. However Nate ultimately broke her heart and Sarah went running into the arms of another man. Uh, another man who is now divorcing her because he knocked up another woman.
This starts out as a solid reunion story with a wounded hero and a heroine who won't back down just because he's 1) wounded 2) surly and 3) claims he wants to be left alone. There's a nice cast of secondary characters (thanks to the fact that this is part of The Larkville Legacy continuity series) that round out the action, spurring the couple forward, but never intruding on the new romance with any of their We're Now Happy Kissie-Face Couples nonsense.
Where things go south for me is with the heroine and the execution of her baggage. I admire the fact that Sarah keeps pushing Nate, trying to get him to open up and share his feelings. However what got really annoying is that while she's pushing him to spill the beans, she's not telling him anything about what's bothering her. And what is bothering her? The fact that she's infertile and that it ultimately helped kill her marriage. Yes folks, Biology Is The Only Way rears it's ugly head.
Look, ladies - I get it. I really do. Infertility is a heartbreaking issue that effects millions of women. It can be devastating. I get that. I really, really do. But repeat after me: Your Ability Or Inability To Be A Baby Making Factory Is Not The End All Be All Of Your Life. It isn't. You can be a great person and never be pregnant. Likewise you can be a raging asshole and give birth to a dozen babies. I would like to think that, as a woman, I am more than my uterus. But hey, that's me.
I also really, really began to resent that just because she couldn't get knocked up that Sarah felt her life was somehow over. That she could never have a family. There are moments when she does think to herself about adoption or becoming a foster parent but then she says shit like this that just pisses me off:
"Because she might have to come to terms with not being a biological parent one day, but it didn't mean Nate should have to make that compromise."
"But you still want to be a dad, Nate. You might say no now, but I've seen the way you are with Brady. I know you, and you're going to make someone a great husband and be a great father one day. Of your own biological children."
I can't be rational about this folks. I just can't. Growing up, I had friends who were adopted. I have friends, as an adult, who have adopted. My own frackin' niece is adopted. Those children are not loved any less because they aren't "biological children" of their parents. When my sister looks at my niece she sees her daughter. She does NOT see some consolation prize just because my sister didn't have the easiest time getting pregnant.
Breathe Wendy, breathe. That's a girl....
So where does this leave us? Well, with Nate carrying the story for me. This guy, ::dreamy sigh::. You know what his reaction to Sarah's baggage is? He basically doesn't give a damn. He cares insomuch as it upsets him that it upsets her so much. That her asshole ex made it a deal breaker. But the fact that she's never going to be pregnant isn't an issue for him. He loves her (God knows why), and yes - wants a family - but he isn't such an asshole (unlike her) that he doesn't know there are other ways to achieve that particular goal.
So yeah. I'm not sure how to grade this one. As much as she pissed me off, a D grade doesn't seem to fit. I haven't been in a slump but my reading has been slower than usual lately, and I inhaled this story. Also, if you take out the Biology Crap, the rest of this story works for me. And, you know, I'm a big enough person to admit that I have "issues" with this sort of thing. Lane isn't the first author to toss something like this into a book and Wendy Goes All Hulk Smash, nor will she be the last. Final answer? Mileage is going to vary because what bugs me, isn't necessarily going to bug every reader on the planet.
Final Grade = C