SEALed with a Kiss by Mary Margret Daughtridge
Series: SEALed #1
Published by Sourcebooks
Publication Date: April 1st 2008
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"Daughtridge delivers a well-written romance that is simultaneously tender and sensuous."-Booklist
He can handle just about anything, except this...
Jax Graham is a member of an elite military team, but when it comes to taking care of his four-year-old son after his ex-wife dies, he's completely clueless.
One person can help him, if he'll let her...
Family therapist Pickett Sessoms knows just how to help a rough, tough Navy SEAL deal with a scared and lonely little boy, but not if he insists on going it alone.
When Jax and his young son Tyler get trapped by a hurricane, Pickett takes them in against her better judgment. Jax figures Pickett's high maintenance, just like all the women he knows, and she figures he's not commitment material. But when an outing turns deadly, Pickett discovers what it means to be a SEAL, and Jax discovers that even a hero needs help sometimes...
He figures she’s high maintenance. She figures he’s not “commitment” material. But when widowed Navy SEAL Jax Graham and his young son Tyler get trapped by a hurricane, family therapist Pickett Sessoms takes them in and knows just how to help a rough, tough Navy SEAL deal with his personal side…
Navy SEAL Lt. Jax Graham has no idea what to do with his young son after his mother’s death. Although Tyler is 4-years-old, Jax and Tyler’s mom divorced shortly after he was born and Jax has been out of the country more than he’s been in it. As a result, when his ex-wife dies, Jax is more than happy to let his ex-mother-in-law have custody of his son and just keep the same visitation rights he had before his ex-wife died. But his commander isn’t happy with that and orders Jax to take a 30 day leave to spend some time with his son.
Jax reluctantly agrees to meet his ex-MIL at her beach house so they can spend some time together. Only shortly after they arrive, a hurricane warning goes into effect and they have to evacuate. Grandma heads back to her house in (I forget what city) but Jax is determined to stay and spend as much times as possible with Tyler.
Enter Pickett Sessoms, family therapist. She happens upon them at the beach just before they’re evacuated and tries to help Jax and Tyler communicate with each other. She can tell Jax is doing his best, but he’s obviously out of his league with Tyler. When Jax can’t find a hotel room, Pickett agrees to let him stay with her for a few days, but before you know it Tyler is getting attached and the adults are battling a mutual attraction. But Pickett is gun shy, and Jax knows he’ll be heading back to his life as a SEAL before too long….
I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts on this for a few days now, and I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly how I felt about this story.
It’s wonderfully written, as evidenced here. Mary Margret Daughtridge has a beautiful writing voice and I was drawn in from the beginning, anxious to read more. The characters were wonderfully drawn. There are subtle nuances with each and the more I read, the more I wanted to know about them, and then the closer I felt to them. Fully 3 dimensional, with real personal struggles that sprang from real life problems. I think this is what I loved best about this novel. Each character was real. No fairytale life here, but instead a woman who’s insecure and struggles with self-image problems and a man who doesn’t know how to be anything but a hero, who’s failing in his most important role, that of a father.
Pickett grew up overweight and constantly lacking in the eyes of her family. Even though she’s a family therapist, she’s always avoided close relationships for herself, for any number of reasons. Mostly because she’s afraid to open herself up to someone.
Jax wants to be a good father. You can see that he does. He tries so hard, but he just can’t seem to get it right. So he asks Pickett for help. And then he really listened to her and tried his best. Oh how I loved reading these parts. When he really focused on what she was saying, then made the effort to do as she suggested.
I think this is the best portrayal of a SEAL I’ve ever read. Not because he was all hard and tough, but because he had a softer side. I’m married to a cop. He goes to work every day and puts himself in danger to keep others safe. Before that, he was a Marine. He’s tough, and sexy and he’s a hero. He’s my hero. But he’s also sweet and sensitive. He puts my needs before his own, and he tries to be the best man he possibly can. Do I think he’s a wuss? Or that he can’t handle whatever he has to handle at work? Of course not. But when he’s at home with me he’s different. He’s my husband. He’s just a man.
That’s how Jax was. He was sweet and sensitive, he was willing to learn what he needed to be a great dad. He was willing to stand in front of Tyler and Pickett if they needed him to, but more importantly he was willing to stand beside them and offer strength while they fought their own battles. That is the measure of a real man, a real hero. He didn’t “have” to be in charge all the time, to make himself feel more like a man. He was a man and that’s all that mattered. I heart him.
That’s not to say I didn’t have issues with him, however. The way he constantly went on and on about how Tyler would be better off with his grandmother, even after Jax realized she drank all the time and Tyler said he hated it at her house pissed me off. It was obvious that Tyler hated living with his grandmother, even to Jax, but he still refused to consider other possibilities for where Tyler should go once he went back to full duty. I understand that he couldn’t care for Tyler on his own (being away from home 200+ days a year doesn’t work when you need to be a full time parent), but he refused to even consider other options. That bugged the crap out of me.
And Pickett. I don’t even know where to start with her. I guess I’ll start with my biggest issue: Her refusal to consider a long term relationship with someone in the military. Maybe this is a hot-button issue for me because I have family in the military, but military marriages can work. They aren’t easy, but life isn’t easy. Pickett is a family therapist who works on a military base. She councils couples who are dealing with life in the military. Constant deployments, time apart, secrets, etc, etc. But she helps these people work through that. So why then would she flat out refuse to even consider someone in the military for a long term relationship? Hypocrite much?
She also had some odd insecurities and hang-ups about sex I found to be..strange considering her occupation, but I was able to most past these, mostly because she was able to move past them.
Despite my issues with her, however, I really enjoyed both her and the story. Especially her interactions with Tyler. There’s no doubt she’s good at what she does if Tyler is anything to go by. I also loved how, with Jax’s help, she was able to finally stand up to her family. I think I re-read that scene several times.
I also loved that the focus on the story was the relationships. Jax and Tyler and Jax and Pickett. It was very refreshing to not have some mystery or suspense plot thrown on top of it.
Overall an extremely well written story with wonderful characters and a poignant story. I’d highly recommend it because even though I had some issues with it, I was able to move past them. No easy feat for me.
4.5 out of 5
And don’t forget, Mary Margret Daughtridge is visiting us tomorrow! Be sure to stop by.