Review posted: Happily Ever After - Reads
Nash came across in SERENDIPITY as maybe the harshest brother, very angry and unforgiving of Ethan and decisions he made as an 18 year old kid. He’s also a bit non-accepting of Tess and as a result she shies away from him, not caring about getting to know him. She’s bonded with Ethan, and as Nash isn’t interested in getting along with Ethan, Tess’s mind is pretty much made up about having a relationship with Nash – not happening. Nash sees everything in black and white and he struggles to be what he thinks people need him to be. His first marriage didn’t work out, but he still calls and wants to help his ex, Annie, thinking she always needs help now after her MS diagnosis, instead of listening to her and want she really needs from him, as a friend.
Nash’s growth in this book is one of him becoming more self-aware. His eyes are opened up to how people perceive him and he doesn’t like the reality of it. He makes a real effort to change, realizing that the issues he thought were other people’s problems, are really his own and he takes steps to repair relationships within his family. Lies that people told him hit Nash hard. He has to deal with his youngest and closest brother Dare in a way he never thought he’d have to. His relationship with Dare has always been the one solid thing in his life and to have that turned upside down, because of Dare, is something that triggers Nash to start looking at why people aren’t comfortable coming to him with problems, and it’s a turning point for Nash personally.
One new, strong presence in Nash’s personal life is Kelly, Tess’s half-sister. Kelly is still struggling with her decision of leaving Tess on Ethan’s doorstep just a few short months ago. She knows it really was the best decision but still worries that Tess may have seen it as just another person abandoning her, like their mother did. But she sees Tess thriving in Ethan’s care and home and her decision has given Tess the stability that she’s never had before. Kelly’s moved to town to be closer to Tess and she’s trying to fit in, and makes a fast friend in Annie, Nash’s ex.
Nash and Kelly become closer as the story goes and even though Tess objects at first, because, well…it’s Nash, they are comfortable with each other and find a happiness together that neither one was expecting. Kelly has some personal baggage she’s also dealing with and it ultimately drives a wedge between her and Nash when she doesn’t come clean to him. He sees it as just one more person keeping the truth from him. Both Nash and Kelly have issues to work through on their own, but once they’re able to repair relationships, in Nash’s case, and put the past completely to rest, for Kelly, they can finally move forward together.
“I can’t have this conversation now.”
Not while her fingers were hovering around the hard edge threatening to burst through his pants.
She met his gaze and grinned. “We’re not going to do much talking,” she promised, her eyes glittering with desire. “I just wanted you to know that I get you. And when you’re with me, you can just feel what you’re feeling and I won’t judge…”
He nodded, his throat full, touched beyond reason that she’d thought so long and hard about him. What he wanted and needed. He wanted to express his gratitude, his feelings and once again he reached for her.
Once again she eased out of his grasp. “And now you’re going to lean back and just enjoy. No thinking, Nash. Just feel,” she said, and knelt down in front of him.
Their relationship was sweet and very easy going. They had issues to move past and do, but they came across on page as a fun couple, and a couple that was well matched for each other. While I enjoyed their scenes together, I felt a bit more invested in Nash and his relationship with his brothers, Ethan and Dare. He had a lot of ground to cover with Ethan, and was able to finally let himself “get” where Ethan was coming from and start to move past the hurt he’s carried for so long.
…Ethan turned to Nash and spread his hands out in front of him. “Well? What now?”
Nash ran a hand through his hair. Damned if he knew.
“As much as you don’t like it, we’re brothers. I was wrong back then, but I can’t change the past.”
“So what do you want from me?” Nash asked.
Ethan shrugged. “Get to know me. Judge me for who I am today, not who I was or what I did.”
“That much, huh?” Maybe Nash could give him a kidney too.
Ethan nodded in understanding. “Yeah, I’m asking for that much.” He let out a dark laugh. “You never know. You might just like me.”
Nash rolled his eyes. “Don’t hold your breath, big brother.” Despite himself, a smile edged the corners of his mouth as he followed Ethan out of the office and back to the party.
The most drama came from an unlikely source in the fun loving, (seemingly) happy Dare. That turned out to be a great cover for the hurt and pain Dare has been hiding for many years, all going back to one horrible night when he was 15. When the truth comes out, Nash questions everything he was led to believe about why he and Dare were split up and sent to different foster homes after their parents died. And for Dare, we get a small glimpse at what kind of inner demons he’s been dealing with, all from that one night that still haunts him and it’ll be interesting to see how he deals with it and if he can find some kind of peace and move forward in his book.
One of the side stories that hit on a personal level for me was Annie, who is living with MS. My mom was diagnosed with MS over ten years ago, and it really brought Annie’s story to life more for me, and even though she’s not on page a great deal, I felt like I knew her and some of her struggles very well. When I read it’s to completely escape reality, my happy little book world, but sometimes even books have a way of bringing something in your real life front and center and for me, in this book, it was Annie.
Nash went from being the brother I wanted to smack the most in SERENDIPITY, to the brother I wanted to see reconcile with his family, have a solid relationship with his sister, and find some happiness and love with Kelly. Carly Phillips delivers with a light, fun read, a sweet romance and gives us a family that I can’t wait to read more about in small town Serendipity.