Gabriel Dern is a grouchy, unhappy, insecure, and lonely man. The accident he had when he was a teen has made the last fifteen years of his life years that were spent exiled from the community his sister wants him to be part of. He can stay home and feel less alone than he does when he joins the real world and people begin to stare and whisper the word “freak” behind their hands. He likes being by himself on his farm. So when his sister, Lacey, interferes and moves a stranger into the guest house not only is it beyond what he can tolerate, but the new tenants pretty face, easy going, clumsy as all hell personality keeps drawing him to her like she’s candy and he has a sweet tooth. And Gabe already has scars; he doesn’t need cavities.
After moving to a small town from the city and starting over Morgan’s been living out of a motel; Lacey’s offer to stay at her parent’s farm where her brother has a carriage house sounds like heaven. She had no clue when she moved to Martinsville that it would be so impossible to find housing. But when Lacey says her brother keeps to himself she wasn’t kidding. She was actually understating the situation because Gabe’s response to meeting Morgan when she comes to check out her potential new home is downright rude.
This story is a very sweet love story. Gabe is one of the best wounded heroes I’ve read in a good long time because he isn’t some gutter kid who has some perfect climb to the top of a dung heap. He isn’t some all power wielding jack-off that hates life and gases small animals, humbugs, and punches babies. He’s actually a regular guy that you could meet anywhere and he is frightfully relatable in his insecurity and it makes his heartache, your heartache.
Morgan on the other hand is one of those heroines that you will be smiling about for some time afterward. She is hilariously funny and her inability to walk over flat ground and breathe air without injury will have you cringing and chuckling while you read her antics. She is not just awesome medicine for a too straight in the leg Gabe, she will make you, as the reader, feel good about reading the book. It is an awesome accomplishment when an author sells you, not just a story, but a cause to smile and laugh.
I’m a huge fan of fairy tales retold and this is a remodeling of Beauty and the Beast. I appreciated that Elizabeth stuck in the very important elements of the psychological trauma of Gabriel’s ordeal and his fight dealing with PTSD; not just the pissy isolation of someone who had a bone to pick with the tossers who liked to talk crap about the guy who was disfigured. I did have a bit of a “that seems really laid on thick” moment at one point in the book when the townsfolks gathered with spears and torches to roast the monster, but then I thought about people in small towns. I grew up in a small town and small town people start discounting each other. They make assumptions about people’s worth, so I started thinking that it was likely that to a small extent people would begin to label him because of his scars.
This is not what I would call straight up heavy breathing, sex me up and call in the fire engines book. This is more of a Women’s Lit, Chick Lit, Romance. It’s not about the SEX, although that is there, really it is about the self discovery and growth of the characters. And about underdog cows, sheep in love with humans and some smart as hell dogs. There is absolutely no sex between humans and sheep though.
If you like this book you should check out Wallbanger by Alice Clayton–It has a similar heroine to Morgan. Playing For Keeps by R.L. Matthewson–Also for it’s humor. Truly, Madly, Deeply, You by Cecilia Robert and Shattered by Nicole Banks are also two others I’d recommend.
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