Here With Me (The Archer Brothers #1) by Heidi McLaughlin
NA Contemporary Romance/Military Romance
ARC provided by the author via Inkslinger PR
ARC provided by the author via Inkslinger PR
After serving on a special mission with the military for six years, Evan Archer returns home to find the unthinkable - the love of his life, Ryley Clarke - engaged to his brother, Nate. With Nate on deployment, Evan needs to figure out what happened in his absence, and more importantly, how to win Ryley back from the man he once considered his best friend, but now thinks of as his rival.
Oh my goodness this book! My heart was ripped apart from the first page. I went into the book not really knowing what it was about. Honestly, I didn't read the synopsis, but I enjoy McLaughlin's writing, so I accepted the review. What I found was a story that not only captivated me from the first page, but I simply couldn't put it down until I finished.
You can see what the book is about by reading the synopsis, but I'll tell you what I read. I read about a woman, Ryley, who lost the love of her life, the father of her child, Evan. She did her best to move on. She ends up finding comfort in her fiance's brother, Nate, and they end up making a life together. Then everything is shattered when her fiance returns home. He was never dead. So, now we have a woman torn between love and obligation. I'm not saying that I don't think Ryley doesn't have feelings for Nate, because I think she does love him in a way, but I see a different love, a deeper love with Evan.
In the beginning, the story is presented in a therapy session. Both Ryley and Evan are in separate sessions telling the story of how they fell in love. I fell in love with them and felt that it really gave the story more depth. The reality of their situation is brutal. So many questions need to be answered and feelings need to be sorted out. Adding more complication to the situation is that no one seems to have a clear answer about why Ryley and Evan's family were told he was dead. Evan was receiving care packages from his family the entire time. It's definitely complicated.
So, how do I feel about these characters? I'm in love with Evan right now because I simply think he's fantastic and is likely the guy I would go for in real life. Nothing has changed for Evan. His feelings for Ryley are just as strong as they were when he left and he's determined to be a father to their son, EJ. I also understand his heart break over finding his love set to marry someone else. Not just someone else, but his twin brother. Can you say mind f*ck?
As for Ryley, my heart hurt for her. Truly. It's clear that she never stopped loving Evan, but how does she walk away from a life she created with Nate? Not only does she have to take her feelings into consideration, but she has to consider her son. Nate is the only father EJ has known. It's complicated and someone will be hurt along the way.
The only issue I had with the story, and I can't seem to get it out of my mind, is that EJ has known Nate to be his father, yet his bedroom walls are covered with pictures of Evan. I felt there was some discrepancy there about how Ryley was going to explain Evan to EJ. Shouldn't EJ already know that Evan was his father or at least known as a family member? It just didn't make sense why Ryley was so torn about having the conversation with her son about who Evan was, because in my opinion, he would have some idea that Evan was at least family. I have a 5 year old son and I can tell you that he would have been asking questions at a very young age. And I also wondered why Ryley never talked about Evan to EJ. It just seemed odd to me. It's as though Evan was a complete stranger.
Overall, I am all in with this series. I can't wait to see what happens next. There is still so much to discover too. At the end of the book, Nate returns, so the next book is sure to be full of turmoil too. Plus, the plot thickens with the questions surrounding Evan's "death". I'm excited to dig in to the next Archer Brother's book! If you like stories that burrow into your heart, check this one out!
"I was the firework. I was the butterfly. I was every analogy you could think of. I didn't see stars. I became the star. My first kiss was everything it was meant to be and more."-Ch 5
"I'm going to fight for my family and I'll do it dirty if I have to. I'll be the one standing up at your wedding stopping it, and I'm going to prove that you're still madly in love with me even though we haven't seen each other or been with each other in six years. Your body sings for me, I felt it when I sat down next to you."-Ch 17
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell and two Parakeets.
During the day Heidi is behind a desk talking about Land Use. At night, she's writing one of the many stories planned for release or sitting court-side during either daughter's basketball games.