The Marine's Secret Daughter
By Carrie Nichols
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Release Date: January 16, 2018 (Paperback)
Release Date: February 1, 2018 (Digital)
Reviewed by PJ
After three tours in Afghanistan, Marine Sergeant Riley Cooper has seen more than his share of death and destruction but the latest attack that killed a man in his command and left Riley wounded in both body and soul has resulted in a mandatory 30 day recovery period stateside. He could have gone anywhere but, for Riley, there was only one choice: Loon Lake, Vermont and the vacation cottage his parents had rented when he was growing up. The tranquil small town is the site of his best memories, happy times spent with Liam McBride and his younger sister, Meggie. The McBrides were his respite from his warring parents, his example of what a loving, supportive family should be. And Meg...she was the shining star of those memories. The last time he was in Loon Lake - six years earlier - they had one perfect night together before he shipped out for his first overseas tour. By the time Meg's letters reached him in Afghanistan, he had seen too much heartache and despair. The Marine Corps was his life and he couldn't sentence her to a life of living each day not knowing if he would live or die so he returned the letters unopened. In his mind, cutting her loose to pursue her teaching career in Boston and a life with someone else was the kindest thing he could do, even if the thought tore him to pieces.
Single mom, Meghan McBride has built a good life for herself and her daughter, Fiona even if it isn't the one she had envisioned. She's back in Loon Lake permanently, has finally finished college, and is ready to begin her teaching career. Then, the man she was certain she would never see again, the man who broke her heart, the man who has no idea he has a daughter, lands on her doorstep with plans to spend the next thirty days in the cottage next door. It doesn't take long for Meg to realize her feelings for Riley never went away but were simply waiting to be reignited, especially as they get to know one another again. Is this their second chance to get things right or will it all turn to dust when Riley finally discovers what she's been keeping from him?
I've already read this book twice and enjoyed it just as much the second time as the first. Nichols uses a few of my favorite romance tropes - secret baby, second-chances, best friend's younger sister - to good effect in this heart-tugging, emotional contemporary romance. Meg and Riley are both complex, fully-dimensional characters with whom I felt an immediate connection. They're good, likeable, honorable people who deserve their happy ending. I loved their chemistry, which sizzles, but, especially, their friendship, the rock-solid foundation of their love. While Fiona doesn't appear until more than halfway through the book, she's both a heart-stealer and a scene-stealer, leaving laughter and happy tears in her wake. Nichols does a beautiful job of capturing the shock, uncertainty, terror (on Riley's part), and deep, unconditional love that unfolds as Riley and Fiona come to know one another. Nothing can bring a tough Marine to his knees like the love of a five-year-old little girl who holds his heart.
After I finished reading this debut book from Carrie Nichols, I discovered that the manuscript was the 2016 Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® award winner for Short Contemporary Romance. It is certainly deserving of the award. I've added Nichols to my authors to watch list and am eager to see what she brings us next.
Because I enjoy celebrating debut authors and because this story touched my heart, I'm giving away one Kindle copy of The Marine's Secret Daughter to a randomly chosen person who leaves a comment before 11:00 pm, January 28, 2018.
So, tell me...
What are your favorite romance tropes?
Where would you most like to go for rest and relaxation?
Have you ever had a crush on a sibling's best friend?