Tucker by Juliana Stone
Series: The Family Simon #1
Publisher: Self-Published on February 5, 2014
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (Adult)
When all hope is gone, can love still find a way?
Tucker Simon has given up on love. After a tragedy, it’s just not in the cards for him, and he wishes his family would get off his back. He’s fine—or at least he thought he was–until a family wedding forces him to address a few things, namely his date, Abby Mathews. She’s been put in the ‘friend’ category, mostly because she deserves so much more than what he can give. But the more time that he spends with her, Tucker begins to think that maybe there is a chance for love after all…
Abby Mathews has been in love with Tucker Simon since he walked into her family’s bar nearly a year ago. But he’s got baggage and heartache a plenty. His one-night-stands aren't going to lessen that no matter what he thinks. Tucker needs a friend, but Abby wants to give him more, and as they navigate their way through a weekend in Florida, their attraction can’t be ignored. Abby has to make a choice. Does she cherish their friendship and take what she can get? Or does she go after what she really wants, which is Tucker’s heart…
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Since Tucker Simon’s wife Marley disappeared somewhere in the Atlantic three years ago, he’s been living in a hellish limbo. Too many drinks and too many women aren’t nearly enough to pull him out of the pits of his own mind, and he’s pushed away any efforts to help him. But when a family wedding looms, he has no choice but to face the family he turned his back on, and when his mother offers to find him a plus one for the wedding, he turns to his favorite bartender in a panic.
Abby Mathews has been in love with Tucker since the day she met him. She’s given him drinks to nurse and an ear to bend, and when he needs a date for a wedding, she gives him the answer to his dilemma. But a tropical destination and love in the air give them both much more than they bargained for.
Tucker’s only ever thought of Abby as a friend, but it soon becomes clear that’s not how others at the wedding see her. They’re willing to step in and step up where he’s not, and he finds himself jealous and mix-up when it comes to the lovely bartender. But he’s an emotional fortress, still reeling from the death of his wife and unwilling to move on without the closure her disappearance denied him.
Tucker is as difficult to read about as he is easy to understand. His marriage to Marley was a happy one, and losing her has overturned his entire world. He’s dealing with the kind of guilt that only the grieving know, and any attempt to move on feels like an act of betrayal. So when his feelings for Abby move past the friendship he’s comfortable with and step toward something more serious and lasting, his reaction is just as confusing as his heart.
Abby may be in love with Tucker, but she’s not delusional, and she knows he’s still grieving the woman he planned to spend forever with. But she’s not a pushover, either, and when Tucker’s a jerk, she doesn’t just sit back and take it. She listens and understands and doesn’t judge him for his flaws, but she does call him out on things rather than let herself be hurt. Her situation is almost heartbreaking, loving a man who can’t simply be won over and instead has to come to terms on his own with more than most people can handle. She’s as afraid of never being enough as he is of handing over his wounded heart, and it makes for a bittersweet and ultimately rewarding story.
The pacing is perfect, recognizing the characters’ chemistry but allowing them the time to work through everything, miscommunicate and clear things up, and eventually come to terms and move forward. The secondary characters, including some familiar faces from The Barker Triplets series made for some great scenes, and even Cooper, who initially came off as something of a cad, won me over.
Tucker is heavy on the grief and eventual healing, but it’s tempered by witty dialog and believable romance, not to mention some rather combustible chemistry. It’s second-chance-romance and friends-falling-in-love all rolled into one fantastic read.