This is what I look for in an older man/younger woman romance, but it has so much more than only that theme or that taboo. It is just a wonderfully written and touching romance, in every way. I just now finished it, crying a little and really feeling as if I've been put through every emotion, from sadness to joy, from frustration to hope.
I devoured this book, every beautiful, poignant moment in it. You already know the blurb and, from another review, who Rye will turn out to be. This is where the taboo aspect and the conflict of the story come in: Rye is Sam's long-lost brother, and Sam is Emma's adoptive father. On top of that, Rye is 33 years old and Emma 18 when they first meet.
Now for some people, the age of the heroine may be a deal breaker, but don't let that put you off. It is so not seedy or dirty or wrong. It's really quite touching the love she feels for this older man. Given her past, Emma is an old soul, and on so many levels, she sees and understands all the deep, lonely, and sad places in Rye. For Rye, who has a shameful and painful past, Emma is everything good and innocent and right in the world. He desperately wants her but feels so unworthy of her.
If ever a man was in need of redemptive love, Rye is that man. I loved him. He is that hero you fall in love with. You can totally see how Emma would lose her heart to him. He is the protector, he is that lost, injured soul, and he is that hero who is strong but needy and vulnerable. If you want a hero who risks his own future for the safety of the heroine; if you want a hero who waits for the heroine, a hero who wants only her and no one else; if you want a hero who believes he's not good enough even to touch the heroine, you will love Rye.
After waiting over two years for Emma, Rye is ready to have his deepest desire and greatest longing. He's tired of wanting and loving her from afar. He knows he doesn't deserve her, but once Emma tells him her heart is his and always has been, he can't deny himself any longer. Rye tells Sam, "There may be a better man than I am out there somewhere for her. But there's no one who's ever going to love her as much as I do... She's it for me. The only woman I will ever love."
I love when a hero longs for love, desperately wanting it with everything in him. And when he gets it, he cherishes it and will never let it go. What a damn fine hero; Rye's it for me. And what a romance, a true romance. It is touching, sexy, and deep in story and character. It's bittersweet, full of longing and emotion, and just plain romantic.