Ashley Winston is the only girl in a family of seven siblings. She lives in Chicago and works as a pediatric nurse. She left home in small town Tennessee eight years before, eager to get away from a difficult situation. She never went back, not even to visit, even though she spoke to her Momma every day by phone. As the story opens, she’s finally returned to Tennessee because her mother is dying. She discovers that her brothers have changed. She finds not only her six brothers at the family homestead but also her oldest brother’s boss, Drew Runous. In Ashley’s absence, Drew has become a well-liked member of the family; he’s like a son to her Momma.
I loved Drew. He was the strong silent type, but he had many layers, and he was a mystery to Ashley. It wasn’t hard to see that he was a stand-up type of guy, someone who could be trusted and relied upon. That was why Ashley’s mother had put her faith and trust in him. I had a more difficult time with Ashley and her amazing lack of self-esteem. She was a former beauty queen who thought everyone still thought she was a trashy, disposable piece of ass (her own words). She’d made a life for herself in Chicago and was determined to return there after her Momma passed away. Drew was in love with her right from the start, but he wouldn’t tell her, and he wouldn’t ask her to stay. He refused to hold her back. Drew was quiet and taciturn. He wrote poetry; he filled an entire notebook with love poems and letters to Ashley, but he never let her see it. He had a poetic soul; he just couldn’t vocalize his thoughts and feelings.
This is the Winston family novel I should have read first (before the Winston Brothers series). It gives the family history and backstory I needed before I began the other series. It made that series so much better for me. This should be book one in the Winston series.
This was an Audible book. This story was told only from the heroine’s point of view (except for the epilogue). The entire novel was read by only one person, a female voice. I think I prefer a narration with alternating male and female voices, but this novel wasn’t written that way. It was well written enough that Drew and Ashley both still came to life for me.
I highly recommend this one.