I have absolutely no clue why this book is called Tucker – after the hero – when it should be called Gillian for the heroine, because that’s whose story this really is. If only Gillian was a good heroine and didn’t spend the entire book agonizing over her engagement. To a man who isn’t Tucker. Uh huh.
Tucker McBride, recently discharged from the US Army, is heading to Redemption, Texas when he sees a woman on the side of the road. He’s on a Harley-Davidson and “zoomed past” her but manages to note that she’s
A vision with mile-long legs and glossy waves of hair the color of rich mahogany. . . .She had finely drawn features: her face heart-shaped, her nose straight, her lips lush and full.
(I recently heard that the US military wants to do some new eye surgery for soldiers – maybe Tucker was the first test subject and got amazing slow-motion vision?) He stops to help her.
Gillian Thacker has recently tossed her engagement ring at her “golf gopher” boyfriend and crashed her car into a tree. Tucker and Gillian realize they share mutual friends in Redemption and then, preliminaries over, share a kiss. After which she goes back to the fiancé, and they all go live in Redemption (separately – there are no three-ways in this book, and we don’t even really see the two-ways).
You know that game where you pluck the petals off a flower one at a time, saying ‘he/she loves me, he/she loves me not?’ That’s what this story is like, chained to the whims of Gillian, who, when finally freed of her fiancé (at the forty percent mark and it’s not her decision, though she insists “it was a mutual dumping”), spends the last half of the book cruelly torturing Tucker and readers with her own version of the game. Plucks one petal: ‘I’ll act like I want him.’ Plucks another petal: ‘I’ll reject him. Ish. I’ll do it when we’ve just made huge commitments to each other and are mere feet from the bed we just had sex in!’ At the end of the book, another character tells her to
“Save yourself and Tucker and everybody else you care about from the self-discovery chase because you’re going looking for answers to something you already know.”
It’s the meanest joke of the story because the book is literally Gillian going on that self-discovery chase and not sparing Tucker or readers a single miserable moment. Gillian, with her ‘Who Me?’ bad behavior and furbaby lapdog, Peaches (“furbaby” is, in my opinion, the worst word in the English language), turned this reader into the Wicked Witch. By the end I was wishing Gillian far away from me – and her little dog, too!!
Tucker’s a grown man, and so maybe I should like him less for being such an idiot that he puts up with this woman who so obviously doesn’t deserve him. But I liked him. Gillian really does have him by the balls, though we never see what she does to his balls because there’s almost no sex described except for a random moment in bed when Tucker, sees “her full breast was dangling inches away from his mouth, so he reached up and took it” (a total missed opportunity as their physical attraction is the best part of the book). Fully clothed, Tucker is an interesting hero in that, despite being in the military, his B storyline is not him struggling with PTSD, which I feel is sometimes the default in contemporary stories with veteran heroes. Instead, his B storyline is about finding a new career path, which is, to the best of my civilian knowledge, a common post-service challenge.
What’s most unfortunate about this book is that it has a great short story in it: the first and second chapters. The initial encounter between Gillian and Tucker is so promising and sexy, and the writing is both cheeky and demure; it doesn’t come on too strong, but every once in a while it sort of winks at you with a quip. Why an editor didn’t just send back everything after chapter two and tell March to ‘dump the fiancé earlier and get this show on the road. Preferably on Tucker’s Harley’, I don’t know.
This series maybe called Eternity Springs, but I’m not sticking around long enough to read the next book, much less forever.