Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “If I could take away that pain for you, I would.”
Chelsea Dwyer has always been attracted to Aidan Devereaux but circumstances kept her firmly in the friend zone. When he suffers a tragedy, Chelsea is the one who provides him with a shoulder to cry on, an ear to rail at, and a body to take comfort from. As their relationship grows, so does Chelsea’s feelings for Aidan, but is he ready to try to start living again? Or will he let his grief and anger chase away his only hope at happiness.
Cherish Her is the third installment in Stacey Lynn’s compelling and hope filled Fireside series. Though part of a series, each story revolves around one couple and their journey through pain and loss towards love, hope, and forgiveness. This particular installment is an emotional roller coaster as Lynn addresses some difficult subject matters that will pinch your heart and flood your eyes you watch this couple struggle to understand and deal through some dark times. Though this is a romance, the main conflict is a heavy topic that blankets the storyline. Lynn focuses a large amount of energy on identifying the issues at hand and helping this couple move past the tragedies in their lives and finding the will to not only move on but move forward.
The story opens on a tragedy and brings our protagonists together during the worst possible circumstances. Lynn grabs you by the heart and doesn’t let go as she opens the floodgates and drenches us in all the emotions of the people involved. Lynn does an excellent job of bringing out and legitimizing the grief, anger, horror, guilt, pain, and hatred that these characters experience. No one is immune from the tidal wave that engulfs them.
Readers have watched Chelsea and Aidan dance around one another since the beginning; their circle of friends overlapping but each keeping their distance. Having met two years ago at a school function, the attraction was instant but the timing wasn’t quite right as a turbulent divorce all but shattered Chelsea’s self-confidence and all Aidan’s energy and time was focused on raising his son, Derrick. Fast forward to the present and Chelsea finds herself a horrified witness to a tragedy and seems to be the only one Alex allows to intrude upon his grief. This creates a bond of sorts that undergoes various definitions as Chelsea tries to understand exactly what her role in his life is now. This becomes extremely hard for her as Alex’s grief and anger causes him to take for granted what she’s offering while he offers nothing in return.
Chelsea is heroine we can all relate to. She comes off shy, sweet, and somewhat fragile though we soon learn that her compassionate nature and innate need to comfort isn’t a sign of weakness. She is a pillar of steel and has no issues speaking her mind or demanding respect. She is very firm in her value as a woman and a human being. Having been cheated on and divorced by a man who decided her infertility issues and their marriage weren’t worth the trouble, Chelsea slowly and painfully rebuilt her life and self-esteem, accepting that children may never be in her future. She vowed to never let anyone make her feel that inferior ever again.
Aidan. Poor poor Aidan. He experiences something that every parent fears and my heart broke for him. A strong, stoic, quiet man, his need to be in control stems from having a child at a young age and raising him single-handedly when the boy’s mother disappeared, unable to handle the responsibility. Now that something has happened that he couldn’t control, he struggles to find his footing in a sea of grief and anger. He clings to Chelsea, using her as his life preserver, unable to fathom surviving without her yet also feels unable to give her what she needs, wants…and deserves.
This couple’s story is more than a romance, it is the story of two damaged people who come together at the worst possible time only to emerge triumphant through the pain. The slow building romance takes on new meanings as it both helps and hinders Chelsea and Aidan in their struggle to find their way. Both are forced to look deep inside themselves and decide what is the best path to take towards healing; even if it means walking away from each other. At times I did feel that Chelsea’s attraction to Aidan and desire to be more than just a friend interfered and caused her to be a bit less sensitive to the situation.
The descriptive narrative and emotional dialogue help to bring this story into clear focus, allowing readers to intimately share in the journey from beginning to end. A personable, well-defined cast of secondary characters introduces us to some new friends and brings back some old ones for us to spend time with. Their concern and unwavering support is a bright beacon of hope even as they are powerless to nothing more than watch someone they love self destruct. One character in particular plays a strong role as his own guilt and pain helps to bring Aidan from the edge of the abyss as he finds his own salvation in helping to save another child’s life.
Cherish Her is an emotional story of love, loss, and acceptance that will leave you laughing, crying, and hugging your loved ones. Keep your tissues handy.