Dear Ms. Sheridan:
When I came upon your book, I had spent several weeks reading dark books with quite a few anti heroes and your sweet, tender romance was quite refreshing. I had no idea what I was in for when I started the book as I hadn’t read you before.
Bree Prescott suffered an unknown trauma, got in her car and just drove. She ended up in a small town in Maine where she rents a cabin and hopes to heal. In Pelion, Maine, Bree encounters the Hale boys. Archer Hale is a loner who lives on his land and rarely comes to town. His cousin, Travis, is the opposite. He is gregarious and flirtatious but it is Archer to whom Bree is drawn.
Most of the story is told from Bree’s first person point of view although there are a few scenes from Archer’s. Archer is mute from an incident that happened back when he was seven years old. Shy, uncommunicative, and possibly a bit agoraphobic, Archer doesn’t really know what to make of Bree who keeps stopping by his property but he looks forward to every visit.
For Bree, there’s something that intrigues her about Archer. The fact that he can’t speak doesn’t bother her at all because, as we are told early on, she is “intimately acquainted with that disability.” I don’t want to give it away (although it does appear fairly early in the text) but someone close to Bree was deaf and because of that she knows how to sign. Her ability to sign and perhaps her familiarity with deaf people makes the connection with Archer easier. Others view him as strange and even a little dumb.
Because Archer is inexperienced with women and because he has an intense desire to please Bree, he is easily manipulated by his cousin which causes drama between Bree and Archer but for the most part, most of the conflict is external.
Much of the time is spent with Bree and Archer getting to know each other, both emotionally and then physically. Archer’s had very little experience with the opposite sex and for those who enjoy the virgin hero trope, Archer’s lusty and sweet awakening to intercourse is well done.
The conflict is primarily driven by the other Hales, specifically Travis the cousin and his mother. Archer tells Bree that he is mute because he was shot by his uncle when he was seven. The story opens with a seven year old Archer listening to his Uncle Connor beg his mother Lys to run away. As the tale unfurls, you learn of a complicated soap operatic relationship between the Hale brothers and Archer’s mother. And there’s some suggestion that drama is attempting to repeat itself between Bree, Archer and Travis only Bree’s affections clearly lie with Archer.
What drags the grade of the book down for me was the transformation of Archer from a bearded loner to the character he becomes at the end. It was too fantastical for me and not in keeping with the rest of the story. The ending drama was overstated as well.
Both characters are in their twenties, but the tone of the story does read a bit young despite the explicit love scenes. However, reading about a tender, sweet, inexperienced hero after several dozen alpha males, this felt like a breath of fresh air. B-