Jan 28 2014 10:00am

First Look: Lily Everett’s Shoreline Drive (January 28, 2014)

Shoreline Drive by Lily EverettLily Everett
Shoreline Drive
St. Martin's Press / January 28, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Dr. Ben Faulkner is a veterinarian on warm, welcoming Sanctuary Island, a refuge for wild horses. Though he’s dedicated his life to healing animals and rescuing the ones no one wants, Ben is nursing deep wounds of his own. After tragedy tore his family apart, he gave up his dreams of finding happiness long ago…until Merry Preston arrives on the island. Vivacious, friendly, and instantly loveable, Merry is everything Ben is not. She’s also nine months pregnant and attempting to carve out a new life for herself and her unborn child.

Though Ben tries to keep his distance, when a raging storm cuts them off from the mainland, he’s forced to help bring her new baby into the world. It’s a harrowing experience that leaves him with one great certainty: I want these two to be my family. Seeing his opportunity, he makes a dramatic proposal to the young mother: a marriage of convenience. If Merry marries him, he’ll draw up a contract naming her son as his heir and promising to provide for them both. But as they’ll learn, love is more than a business proposition…and it’ll take all the magic hidden in Sanctuary Island to turn Ben’s proposal into something real and lasting.

In Shoreline Drive, the second book in the Sanctuary Island series, Lily Everett has crafted the perfect series book. There's closure on the main romance, a modern marriage-of-convenience and opposites-attract story between Merry Preston and Ben Falkner, but with enough intrigue to motivate readers who haven't read the first book to go back and discover what they have missed, and an enticement on possible future pairings.

Long before he was forced to deliver Merry Preston’s baby, taciturn, gruff Ben Falkner found himself fighting his attraction to Merry. Her warmth and her expressiveness are like a balm to his wounded soul. But after delivering her baby, he knows that he wants her and the child named after him as his family.
Ben watches and waits, not because he is an expert strategist, but because he doesn’t believe that he has anything that Merry wants or needs. In fact ,he seems to irritate her more than charm her:

“But speaking of Alex, where is the little monster?”

Merry’s mouth quirked up at one side. “You want to say hi to him? And kiss his chubby little cheeks and rub your face in his pudgy belly. Because you don’t like him.”

She paused dramatically before poking him in the arm. “You looooove my kid.”

. . . “I like to see Alexander in a professional capacity. After I went to all the trouble of helping him into the world safely, it only makes sense to check periodically and make sure you’re not screwing him up too badly.”

He said it to tease her, trying to get into the swing of bantering. Merry made it look so easy with everyone else. But Ben proved, yet again, that what was easy for other people turned to crap in his hands.

Instead of laughing or poking him again, Merry reared back as if he’d slapped her face. “I’m not going to screw my son up!”

But when he realizes that Merry is finding it difficult to live with her mother, a mother with whom she has just reconnected. and raise her son, he makes his makes his unique and unconventional offer: marry me, and I will provide for your son and be a father to him.

Merry has made so many mistakes in her young life. But having a baby and being a single parent has made her grow up fast. Even though Ben is abrasive and uncommunicative around most people, even her, she has seen him with animals. Nobody with that kind of gentleness can seriously be that harsh and brusque. She just knows that he has hidden depths.

She is caught off guard when Ben makes his proposal. And she doesn’t jump at the financial security for her son either. She not going to let impulse rule her life anymore. But surprisingly, her head seems to think that this is a smart move. Ben obviously cares for her son. She justifies that as a reason to say yes, when there is a much more significant reason:

Merry knew herself well enough to know that she could not pick’em. But Ben was supposed to be different. He was supposed to be the smart choice. Rational. Safe.

But how safe could he be when Merry’s stupid, stupid body went up in flames whenever he was nearby?

But what about Jo, Merry’s mother? It seems that she has quite a history. She is planning to turn her regular boarding and training stable into a therapeutic riding center. Merry is there to help her. Not because they are close; they are just getting to know each other. Jo abandoned her children when they were small:

Except in the sense that Jo was the one who’d been a raging alcoholic when Ella and Merry were little, who’d chosen whiskey over her family and allowed her husband to move across the state and take their children with them.

But that was nearly two decades ago, and Jo had gotten clean. She’d reached out, she’d apologized—she done everything right.

In the intervening years, Jo has been like a mother to another girl, Taylor, but Taylor is feeling abandoned since Ella and Merry showed up:

“You don’t like Jo,” he guessed. “Worried she’ll end up as your evil stepmother?”

“No, you’re way off.” Taylor rested her head against the wooden slats, content in the knowledge that her face was now as shadowed as his. “I love Jo. She and my dad have been together, off and on, for a long time. She’s already like a mom to me, ever since my mom died.”

“So what changed?”

Her real daughters showed up.

And then to tantalize readers even more, there is the blistering argument between Sherriff Shepard and Sam Brennan:

“They’ll both be charged,” Sheriff Shepard said, “but since they’re both minors, there’s every likelihood of Judge Barrow opting for rehabilitation over a harsher sentence.”

“I bet you hate that,” Sam Brennan snarled through clenched teeth. “Just think, if you’d only waited a few years to throw the book at these kids, they could be tried as adults.”

Finally, a snap of temper flashed in the sheriff’s eyes. “Mr. Brennan. I’m sure it’s more comfortable for you to blame me than it is to take any responsibility for the fact that you were supposed to be looking after your young relative in the absence of his mother, but I don’t appreciate your tone.

Could there be some history there?

After picking up Shoreline Drive, you’ll have to know the rest of the story.

Learn more or order a copy of Shoreline Drive by Lily Everett, out now:

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Leigh Davis, Blogger

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