Baytown Boys Series
by Maryann Jordan
Military duty called them away to war zones, but after tours overseas, the group of friends found their way back home as men, seeking the peaceful little seaside town. Now, the band of brothers, together once more, work to provide a place for less fortunate veterans to call home.
Lance Greene. Former military. Current artist…and recluse. Moving to Baytown was a chance to get away and forget. Forget his family’s expectations, forget the friends he lost on his last mission, and try to forget the nightmares that follow him. Staying away from people worked, until he met her. She was bright, happy, and everything he did not want.
Jade Lyons. Elementary teacher. Sea glass collector. New to Baytown, she embraced all the small town had to offer, loving the little town, her friends, her students, and her new habit of early morning walks on the beach to find sea glass. Until she met him. He was overbearing, rude, and everything she wanted to avoid.
But sea glass works magic and when Jade discovers a body, Lance steps up, vowing to protect her.
Can picking up the pieces bring two souls together?
**The language and sexual scenes in the book are similar to what you would see in an R rated movie, therefore the book is for 18+ readers.**
Like the the other book in this series that I’ve read, Finding Peace, I really appreciate that Jordan has her military heroes (& heroine) find the help they need in a healthy way. They have a group of friends that understand them and are there to support them, which is so heartwarming. But they also see a therapist to work through their issues from serving overseas. These are not things that will just get better on their own. They are dealing with issues that leave scars and have long-term implications and Jordan handles it with care.
Like Finding Peace, there is two parts to this story – the romance and the mystery. Unlike with the first book I read, I think the dead body plotline is much more important here than the Peeping Tom case was before. It’s part of the catalyst for getting the two of them together as well as helping get Lance out his self-imposed isolation. It’s also a pretty darn good suspense element. The who and why was intriguing and kept me guessing right until the end. It also all played out very believably so I definitely give Jordan an A.
The love story is drama-free and realistic. Once Lance makes up for his initial gruff behavior and starts making an effort with Jade, it kinda blooms between them. There were a couple of scenes that reminded me more of high school than what I’m used to in adult romances (the awkward flirting and the looks from their friends) but I’m pretty sure that it probably is pretty darn accurate when you have a tight group of friends like that. It’s hard to hide their attraction and growing feelings and so you are going to get the acknowledgment from friends that they see what’s going on.
And I loved these two. Lance is, of course, one of those stand-up guys. He’s a protector, full of strength and leadership, but it makes it a little hard for him to open up and talk about his past. Luckily Jade has patience (she does teach elementary school kids 🙂 ) and she’s willing to provide him the support he needs until he’s ready to share. It’s just what he needs at a time when he’s finally ready to make his way into the world again.
With a gripping, well-written suspense element and a touching, sweet romance, I definitely recommend getting your hands on Picking Up the Pieces.