The Return of Brody McBride
by Jennifer Ryan
I picked this up because I was looking for the sort of soap opera-esque slush novel that is just perfect sometimes as escapism when you are stressed. And mostly that's what I found. Here we have Army Ranger Brody McBride, the former town bad boy who impregnated the town bike and the town virgin in once week, then promptly jetted out of town to find himself. He's back 8 years later, scarred and with PTSD and ready to take back up with Rain Evans, the woman he thinks he might finally be worthy of. It's a set up ripe for hijinks.
Brody is a Mary Sue hero (the scarred and damaged edition). He is as contrite and apologetic and self-flagellating as even the most hard core woman could want when it comes to cheating heroes. Granted, he didn't exactly cheat, because he and Rain weren't exactly together when he took a ride on the town bike, but that level of groveling was definitely there. And while he desperately wants Rain's love he just can't quite believe he can obtain it once he knows everything she has had to sacrifice over the years. Plus he is instantly in love and just about perfect (with the exception of his PTSD) with the daughters he only just found out existed.
But it's ok. Rain is almost a Mary Sue herself. 8 years ago she certainly was furious with Brody, but of course when she found herself pregnant she forgave him. And because of her great love for him, when she finds out Roxy-the town bike and most evil woman in the town is also pregnant, she buys the baby from her so that Roxy won't kill it. She sacrifices all her dreams and is basically in her heart of hearts just sitting on a shelf waiting for Brody to come back (I am tired of this trope, but at least Rain is active in her town and her dad's shop so she wasn't a complete husk). And sure, when he does come home, she is mad for just a little bit until her better nature takes over and she gives herself, her love, and her forgiveness to him. Hijinks ensue and they deal with the evil Roxy and everything is now perfect and they live happily ever after.
It probably seems like I didn't like this book, but honestly I did. I thought I was getting a book that was over the top ridiculous and wouldn't take itself too seriously, but while there were a few OTT spots, this was a book that was trying to be very serious, it really wasn't humorous nor did the author tell this story tongue in cheek. It was a nice story with a pretty good treatment of a former soldier with PTSD. I liked the characters to despite the fact that they were all just a little bit too nice and too understanding. Except of course for Roxy who had not one redeeming quality, not one redeeming moment in her whole entire misbegotten life. So when I was able to suspend disbelief (much harder for me when I am reading contemporary) it was an engaging story with supporting characters I am interested in reading more about.
It is still a slush book, but not an over the top ridiculous one, so you shouldn't go in expecting the sort of over the top cheese of something like Pregnesia, but it is still worth a read, especially if you can pick it up at a library.