Another beloved book of mine which I couldn’t forget about and had to re-read again.
Joe Lakota knew Marilee Nelson since they were young. Ever since he knew her, he’s teased her, loved her and protected her till she was eighteen. He was a football star, a warm and very protective person, and he would have done anything, even given up his career for Marilee. Unfortunately when Marilee was eighteen, in order to get back at him, Marilee was gang-raped by Stan and his friends. They wanted Marilee to run to Joe and being the hothead that he was, they expected him to physically retaliate against them. Trying to protect Joe, Marilee broke off the engagement with him and told him she didn’t love him anymore (so sad!), and he left town soon after.
Ten years later, Joe was divorced and wanted to bring his son back to Laurel Creek for its strong values and most importantly, he wanted to see the only woman he still loved after ten years— Marilee.
This is one of the rare books which the heroine didn’t need rescuing. Sure, Marilee after being gang-raped suffered from frequent panic attacks, and I really really loved Joe for his love and patience with Marilee. Even when he didn’t know what had happened all those years ago, he was still very patient with Marilee, and even when Marilee lost her temper with him, he’s never spoken a harsh word to her, just being his loving and patient self, trying to help her. All those years lost just because of a gang-rape masterminded by Stan! When Stan was murdered, Joe was the person suspected for his murder (Marilee told him eventually what had happened and although he did not physically harm Stan as promised, he made verbal threats against him). Evidence was sky-high against him and I loved that even during these stressful times, he still prioritised Marilee and his son Zachery above his own needs.
A book guaranteed to tug the heartstrings, I love Joe’s protectiveness of Marilee and his love ones, his love and patience for her. It really is a special kind of love— to love someone since childhood, even after he left town and got rich, he’s still the same man as he was.