Fournet’s (Leave a Mark, 2016. etc.) latest romance matches a young mother with a crime novelist in a sweet tale about learning to cope with whatever life throws your way.
Grayson “Gray” Blackwood is a bestselling author suffering from a life-threatening brain tumor that’s rendered him homebound. His younger brother, Baxter, hires nursing student Meredith Ryan to keep an eye on him, and it’s love at first sight—for Gray, at least. He initially keeps his distance, though, and also keeps her in the dark about the gravity of his illness; indeed, Meredith scarcely sees him during the early days of her employment. Once they do meet face to face, she’s undeniably attracted but preoccupied with a chaotic home life that includes her 20-month-old son, Oscar; her ex-boyfriend and Oscar’s deadbeat dad, Jamie McCormick; and Jamie’s parents, who are none too pleased about Meredith living under their roof. (When she became pregnant at 17, her religious parents kicked her out; she reflects on their betrayal often, but it’s never fully resolved.) When Gray has a seizure, his secret is out, and from there, the narrative picks up in intensity until the finish. Meredith is an admirable protagonist—capable, wise beyond her years, and determined to make a good life for herself and her son. Gray is respectful, protective in all the right ways, and has Meredith’s best interests at heart. It’s fun to watch him loosen up over the course of their relationship; he’s initially ashamed of his attraction, particularly given that Meredith is nearly 10 years his junior, but soon he’s cracking jokes to hear her laugh, which he describes as reminiscent of “Mardi Gras doubloons and Saturday mornings.” It’s not so fun, however, to watch Jamie try to tighten his hold on Meredith, and their interactions offer a timely commentary on the complexities of consent and sexual assault. Gray’s eventual medical emergency is predictable, but the book’s grounded characters and honest writing prevent it from reading like melodrama.
A smart romance that will satisfy existing fans and likely bring new ones to the table.