Published by Berkley Books on November 29, 2022
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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A woman expecting to spend the holidays alone finds warmth in the iciest man she knows in this steamy and charming later-in-life romance by New York Times bestselling author Jane Porter.
It's been five years since Andi McDermott lost her husband, and she's finally starting to feel like herself again, ready to live fully--she's even started dating again. But when her holiday plans with her stepson and his fianc�e fall through, she refuses to spend another Christmas alone while everyone is celebrating with their families. Impulsively, she decides to go up to her cabin in Lake Arrowhead, a place she used to love to visit but hadn't gone to in years, not since the feud started between her husband and their nearest neighbor.
Andi starts to rethink her decision when being alone at the cabin proves to be more challenging than she expected--a heavy snowstorm hits the area, and Andi finds herself trapped there with no one to help except for her neighbor, Wolf Enders. A military vet who lives full-time on Lake Arrowhead, Wolf is as grumpy and intimidating as Andi remembers. But he's also unexpectedly kind and uncomfortably sexy--his presence reminds Andi that she may be older, but her body still works perfectly fine, thank you very much. But can this good girl tame this sexy beast of a man, and will this snowy fling turn into a love of a lifetime?
This book just made me sad.
This book popped up in more than one email and I was very interested to read what they call a later in life romance. This book depressed me so much I just couldn’t finish it. Let me outline why.
Andi McDermott lost her husband, Kevin, about five years prior to the start of the story. As we start, she was waiting on Christmas eve for her stepson to show up for Christmas with his new fiancé. Luke calls her at the last minute to say that his mother purchased show tickets as a surprise and they would make time to see her before they left town again. Surprise, she doesn’t hear from him again. At first I was a little confused, as Andi tell us that she and Kevin met in college and they were together about two decades, so where does a stepson come in? Just to clear it up, Kevin got his high school girlfriend pregnant. There really didn’t appear to be tension between Andi and Luke’s mother, but I didn’t hang around long enough if we ever go back to that. That does mean that Andi acted as a supportive and loving stepmother to Luke for most of his life. Yet, he pretty much writes her out of his life completely after his father dies. In fact, during the course of the story, Andi was waiting for an invite to Luke’s Spring wedding only to realize it was now technically Spring and she hadn’t received an invite.
What makes this sadder is the fact that Andi couldn’t have children. She wanted to adopt but Kevin stated that he already had a biological father so as far as he was concerned, he checked that box and didn’t need anymore. So Andi’s desire to be a mother was ignored. This is a red flag among many, many red flags we see waving the more that Andi talks about her dead husband. It appears that Andi didn’t even finish college to move with Kevin and support him in his future career. Andi spends the next 15 years or so molding herself into the perfect wife for Kevin and it was only after his death and after therapy for depression that she begins to make friends that she likes and tries to untie the knots binding her to that role as Kevin’s support staff.
Put a pin in that, we will be back.
Andi’s neighbor in the remote cabin is Wolf. Wolf is a loner. He works from home and while he has some biker friends he rides with, he likes to be alone with his big German Shephard. Now we learn that that Wolf had three sons, only one who bothers to stop by and see his father. The youngest doesn’t care and the oldest was killed in action in the Middle East. Since all his sons followed in Wolf’s military footsteps, his ex-wife blames his son’s death on Wolf and his son’s desire for his father’s attention. It seems Wolf spent most of his marriage reenlisting for active duty. He was stop home long enough to get his wife pregnant, decide playing husband and father was too much work, and run back to the service. His wife eventually had enough and divorced him. As this story starts, his wife is also fed up with her daughter-in-law. The deceased son had gotten married and just before he left that last time, got his wife pregnant. Three years later and she was still suffering from depression over the death of her husband and not really taking care of her son. She wants to get away from the oppressive mother-in-law (who has been taking care of her grandson while the daughter-in-law sleeps all day) and now she wants to move in with Wolf. He takes them both in but can’t return to the remote mountain cabin since the plan is for the daughter-in-law and her son to both go to school.
We are gonna put another pin here. I am sorry. I am jumping around a bit.
When Andi is left alone on Christmas, she goes with her new friend to her mountain cabin. It appears that Kevin and Wolf didn’t get along, and there was some pending deformation lawsuit that Andi didn’t know much about (really?) and let the lawsuit drop after Kevin’s death. Andi hasn’t really interacted with Wolf and is terrified of his big dog. Her girlfriend wants to flirt with Wolf so there is some awkward interaction between Wolf and Andi and we learn from Wolf’s thoughts that he might just be interested in sex with this more relaxed Andi. Wow. Thanks. And that was it. Just he might want to have sex with her. He didn’t give her much internal thought besides that.
Andi’s friend leaves before the upcoming snowstorm, but Andi apparently decides to wait until she loses power and heat and leave in the middle of the storm, getting stuck in the snow. Duh! She has no choice but to ask Wolf for help and he decides to kiss her and suggests no-strings sex. I guess she was cold enough to no longer be afraid of him and his dog. Wolf then plows her driveway and opens her pipes…no, those aren’t euphemisms. While Andi is sleeping off the many, many orgasms (or again, just enjoying the warm bed), Wolf goes out to plow the driveway and open her pipes so they don’t freeze and burst. This is the first moment in a long time that someone has done something for Andi and she jumps from a few awkward interactions to “I miss him.” But she goes home because Wolf said “no strings.”
So far, this story has just made me sad. First, Andi made Kevin the absolute sun in her universe with everything centering around what he wanted. The big fancy house. No children for her. Parties for all their friends who were his work companions. She had no personality outside of him and when he died, she went from Kevin’s wife to nothing and she didn’t know what to do with herself or who she was. She was nice to the only child she would have, and he couldn’t even give her a crumb of his time. Secondly, Wolf lost his family due to his own actions. He just wanted to be left alone and so he eventually got his wish. This story so far was so depressing. Where’s the romance?
Back to Wolf moving to take care of his daughter-in-law and grandson. Turns out his other residence is only a few blocks from Andi’s house as we learn when they bump into each other at local coffee house. When Andi hears the story of why Wolf moved back, she offers to help look into pre-schools for his grandson and take his daughter-in-law to the group grief counseling that Andi goes to. Wolf is clueless and is very happy for Andi’s help.
At this point, Wolf stops by with flowers and an offer of dinner and as Andi and Wolf begin to date, this is where I dropped out. This story starts out depressing enough, but I could clearly see Andi beginning to center her universe on Wolf this time and Wolf, once again, allowing someone else to handle all his family drama so he could be left alone. Wolf was supposed to step up but he happily allowed Andi to take over, but from what we learned about Wolf, I could see that we were building up to that point where Andi would step over Wolf’s boundaries and he was gonna blow up at her for taking over and/or getting too entwined in his life. This sad story got even worse because neither of them learned anything from their past mistakes and we setting themselves up for the same failure.
While I really wanted to know the story between Wolf and Kevin which led to a defamation lawsuit, I just don’t need to spend time reading a book that will lead me to needing therapy for depression. I couldn’t see a happily ever after and I don’t think I could have believed it if it ever came. Please walk away from this one for your own sanity.
This sounds like a lot of “Nopes!” to me! Does later in life just mean unnecessary baggage? I’ll pass, thanks.
It’s not even the baggage. It is more that they realized the mistakes they made in their first marriages and were both doing the same thing all over again. You would hope that age brought wisdom but clearly not..