Meant to Be
Montlake/ May 21, 2013 / $10.36 print, $3.99 digital
Sometimes the next best thing is what you’ve been looking for all along…
Beth Chandler has spent her whole life pleasing others. She went to law school to make her grandparents happy. She agreed to marry her workaholic boyfriend, Lucas, to make him happy. And, despite her fear of boats, she took a ferry to see Lucas’s parents just to make them happy.
While suffering through a panic attack on the ferry, Beth meets a tall, sexy stranger who talks her down from her fear—and makes her heart flutter in the process. Soon, she has a new reason to panic: her gorgeous, blue-eyed rescuer is Lucas’s brother, Joe. But could she ever leave her fiancé for his own brother…even if Lucas is more focused on making partner than on making their relationship work…and even if Joe turns out to be everything she never knew she wanted?
Filled with excitement and delight, Meant to Be is the story of a young woman torn between urban pressures and small-town pleasures.
I am not a fan of love triangles, but, as with most romance tropes that I insist I don’t like, the right author can prove me wrong. Terri Osburn is the right author in this case. And she proves me wrong using siblings in the triangle, something that usually makes me toss a book immediately. The reasons I loved this book, triangle included, are threefold.
First, Beth Chandler becomes a different person on Anchor Island. In Richmond, she is Elizabeth Chandler, a people pleasing, self-abnegating lawyer engaged to Lucas Dempsey, also a lawyer and a workaholic determined to become the youngest partner in the firm that employs them both. On Anchor Island, she becomes Beth Chandler, who makes jewelry, drinks tequila, and conquers her hydrophobia.
Elizabeth has built her life around living up to her grandparents’ expectations and proving that she is not her mother. All of her choices, from her career to her fiancé, have been made with this goal in mind. The spontaneous, artistic, beauty-loving Beth is buried so deeply in Elizabeth’s psyche that Beth can’t really be said to exist until she arrives on Anchor Island where “her exhaust-choked commute felt a million miles away.” Elizabeth is eminently reasonable; Beth is governed by her heart.
The voice of reason told her to go back to Richmond. Pack her things and drive off first thing in the morning. But she’s made a promise. . . . Somehow the people on this island felt more important than anything in her life before she’d landed on Anchor.
It seems only fitting that Lucas, who seemed perfect for Elizabeth, proves wrong for Beth and that she falls in love with his opposite.
Second, Joe Dempsey and his brother Lucas are not competitors engaged in a lifelong game of one-ups-manship, an all too common ploy in triangles involving siblings. They are simply different men—different personalities, different ambitions, different lifestyles. Despite these differences, they genuinely care about one another. They are not brothers by blood; Joe’s father married Lucas’s mother. But they think of themselves as brothers. Joe’s disdain for the kind of woman he thinks Lucas’s fiancée is has its roots in his conviction that Lucas deserves better.
Ever since Patty announced Lucas was bringing home a fiancée, he’d been dreading the day she’d show up. Joe didn’t always agree with his brother—hell, he never agreed with his brother—but he still wanted Lucas to be happy.
The betrayal Lucas feels when he believes Beth and Joe are having an affair wounds him precisely because he sees it as a double betrayal—the woman he expects to marry and his brother.
Finally, Beth and Joe are both truly honorable people. They don’t merely give lip service to the idea of honor; they make difficult choices based on it. The attraction between them is immediate and powerful, but they refuse to act on it. Each is aware of his/her own feelings and to a lesser degree the feelings of the other, but the only physical expression of their feelings is Beth’s drunken kiss and a farewell embrace.
Joe knows he is not the kind of man to steal his brother’s girl. Beth will not allow herself to do something that she knows would hurt the Dempsey family. They agree to see one another through the lens of their relationships to Lucas. Even after Beth tells Lucas that she cannot marry him, neither she nor Joe thinks they can have a future together.
Of course, this is a romance, and Beth and Joe get their HEA. However, it comes only after Lucas gives them a push. I’m going back to Anchor Island January 21, 2014, when Book 2 in the series, Up to the Challenge, is released. Lucas will get his HEA then. That’s another reason I can accept this love triangle: Everybody is a hero.
Learn more about or order a copy of Meant to Be by Terri Osburn:
Janga spent decades teaching literature and writing to groups ranging from twelve-year-olds to college students. She is currently a freelance writer, who sometimes writes about romance fiction, and an aspiring writer of contemporary romance, who sometimes thinks of writing an American historical romance. She can be found at her blog Just Janga and tweeting obscure bits about writers as @Janga724.