Before finding this book on Netgalley, I’d never heard of Marina Adair, and that’s a shame. If you read my Video of the Day post yesterday, you know that I had a pretty big issue with Need You for Always, but once I was able to get passed it, I was also able to enjoy the book. It was cute, funny, sexy, and romantic–all the things a straight contemporary romance should be.
Two years ago, Emerson dropped everything and returned to the small town of St. Helena, California to help her mom deal with the ALS she’d been diagnosed with years earlier, which suddenly got worse. After her mother died, she stayed to help her dad raise her little sister and deal with the every day things that he was not able to do without her mother. Instead of being a fancy chef, she’s got a food cart filled with Greek delicacies and she’s working towards opening up her very own food truck.
Dax has spent his entire adult life in the military as an Army Ranger, but in the blink of an eye, it was all over, leaving him with a shattered knee and his walking papers. He returned to St. Helena because he didn’t have anywhere else to go, but of course he had a back-up plan and an ace up his sleeve. He’d already applied for a job in San Jose–2 hours away from anyone that mattered to him. It didn’t take long for those plans to lose their appeal as he quickly began a relationship with Emerson–a relationship that would change both of their lives.
Aside from the ALS issue that I mentioned in the other post, there really isn’t much to complain about with this book. There is a minor issue with the obligatory elderly plot moppet, existing solely to make you like the main characters because they’re nice to quirky old folks. I blame Jill Shalvis for the existence of such characters. She did so well with Lucille in her Lucky Harbor series that it seems every small town contemporary has elderly social media gurus or something similar. In Need You for Always, there was Ida. She owned a wine and chocolate bar and ran an elderly ladies singles’ night. She also tricked both Emi and Dax into working for her, going so far as to advertise that Dax would be the bouncer for the singles’ night (He wasn’t allowed to admit any women with real hips because all the men who had real hips would pass up the women without them for them. Also, he had to hand out gift bags with vibrators in them!). Let me be clear about this: I hate this trope. Hate it. If your characters aren’t likable enough without inserting elderly plot moppets, then you need to adjust their personalities. Adding these extra characters is just lazy writing.
I did, however, like this book and both of the main characters, even without the elderly plot moppets popping up after the 50% mark. These were both characters afraid of moving forward. Dax seems to have been born with a guilty conscience, blaming himself for his mother’s death when he was just 2 years old. Because of this, he’s likely to run away from his friends and family. He doesn’t want to hurt them or be hurt by them (not that he would admit to that). I liked that he was this physically strong man, but on the inside he was afraid–afraid to be something other than the bad ass Ranger that he’s been since he was old enough to enlist in the military, afraid to let his family into his life, afraid to let people down, and afraid to love. (Personally, I don’t think he loved himself–she writes listening to Whitney Houston sing about the greatest love of all. His mother’s death left him with the idea that if he wasn’t born she wouldn’t have died and so he didn’t deserve to be loved or to love someone.)
Emerson is the exact opposite. She clings to her family and uses them as a crutch, hobbling herself and them, making it so that none of them could move on from her mom’s death. All because she’s afraid. Afraid of failing, afraid of succeeding, and afraid of losing someone else. She’s stuck in emotional quicksand and doesn’t have a clue how to pull herself out of it.
I did like how everything wrapped up in the end, but I think that Dax should have had to grovel a little bit more. The dude just up and left and I don’t think that he apologized enough for hurting Emi the way that he did.
P.S. Whoever designed the cover, obviously hadn’t read the book because there is no way in hell that that guy is Dax, who is described as being built like The Hulk or Captain America. He’s supposed to be 250 lbs of tattooed muscles. If that guy has a tattoo, then I’m Donald Duck.
Need You for Always is available for Pre-order and will be released on October 13th. It is also available for free on Kindle Unlimited on the same day.