|I don't like seals. They eat penguins. He's kind of cute though.|
Plot Summery: Jax's ex-wife dies and custody of their four year old son, Tyler, reverts to him. Jax is a Navy SEAL, and he hasn't had much of a hand in raising Tyler so far. He's convinced that Tyler should be handed over to his grandmother to be raised. Jax's CO orders him to spend some time getting to know his son before he makes any rash decisions, and Jax agrees. He quickly discovers that he has no idea how to handle the kid. When a hurricane threatens to cut Jax and Tyler's visit short, Jax makes the hasty decision to stay with Pickett, a very new acquaintance. Pickett happens to be a family counselor. My first thought was oh, how very
Jax genuinely wants to be a good father and do the right thing for Tyler. He listens to Pickett's advice and shows a lot of patience in dealing with the kid. Honestly, I was more interested in the progress that Jax made in his relationship with Tyler than I was in the romantic relationship. The father/son thing was touching without being sappy and felt realistic to me. Jax goes through a full and satisfying process of development throughout the book.
I have some issues with Pickett. I want to say first that I liked her as a character and as a match for Jax. I enjoyed her character arc, though not as much as Jax's. There is this detail, however, which frustrated me a lot. It's a bit spoilerish, so I'm hiding it bellow (highlight to read):
Pickett has decided that she doesn't like sex. Furthermore, she has general insecurities about her body. This is because the first (and only) guy she slept with said something kind of mean about her behind her back and she overheard. Then Jax comes along and tells her she looks sexy, and it's this huge emotional moment for her. She literally cries with joy her confidence soars and she decides to go to bed with him. So to recap: one guy says she looks better with the lights off, and she defines herself by it as unsexy. Another guy says "nice legs" and she has an epiphany of self confidence. It bothered me quite a bit that so much of how she defined not only herself, but sex and relationships in general, was based on the opinions of a small sampling of men. This type of plot isn't romantic to me, it's pathetic.
Ultimately, Pickett has some confidence issues and some fear of failure to overcome, and watching her work through all of that was fairly satisfying (the above issue aside). She starts out as a doormat, and to at least a small extent learns to be more commanding.
The relationship has some beautifully emotional moments, and plenty of steam as well. Jax and Pickett balance each other well, and I could see them working as a couple. More importantly, they both love Tyler and they seem to make good parents. I genuinely wanted to see them together as a permanent family.
There are a number of negatives to mention. The above spoiler was the most glaring one for me, but I had some other issues. The dialogue is a bit awkward at times, like the characters are aware of the parts they're playing. It reminded me of the way people talk in soap operas. The narrative gets kind of self aware at times, too, commenting on how romantic this or that moment is. Let's face it, this is a contrived plot to begin with. And it's pretty predictable. It doesn't help to layer on cheesy dialogue and narrative.
Overall, I had a lot of ups and downs with this book, but the good does outweigh the bad. It's a nice character driven contemporary. 3 stars.