Warning: my review probably contains spoilers!
I love Addison Albright’s books. Simple as that. Ever since I read Cultivating Love the first time, I’ve connected with her books and her characters on a deep level. There’s something about the realness she manages to convey that speaks to me. She writes about real people, people I would love to be friends and hang out with. Don’t get me wrong: there are a time and a place for the stereotypical romantic heroes. Who hasn’t swooned by the imaginary feet of the broody bad boys, the smoking hot firemen, or the tortured heroes?
But lately, I’ve found myself craving something different. I’ve found and fallen in love with Willow Scarlett and their quirky, wonderfully weird characters. And I’ve fallen in love with Addison Albright’s real, regular guys.
They are guys with regular jobs, regular lives, and regular feelings. That might sound boring, but to me, it’s very exciting. Almost anyone can write about imaginary things like werewolves and hobbits. But it takes a skilled person to write realness.
I’ve fallen in love with most of her heroes. They aren’t guys that express their love in a large bombastic way by proposing on a billboard or sweeping their stuff off the desk so they can make love right this minute. No, they’re guys that show their love in small, but meaningful ways. Like leaving a glass of water and pain pills on the bedside table for your injured fiancé, like Emmitt does for Nash in To Love and To Cherish.
When we meet Nash he’s bitter and jaded because of how his engagement with Sam from ‘Til Death Do Us Part ended. And with good reason. In fact, he’s so cynical, he proclaims “Fuck love!” and agrees to marry Emmitt for convenient reasons.
But after Nash’s accident and subsequent memory-loss, he gets a reboot. Nash and Emmitt agree that Emmitt won’t tell Nash what happened, that he will regain his memories in his own time, if at all. Usually, I’m not a fan of keeping secrets, but the way Addison handled it was excellent. Emmitt doesn’t go behind Nash’s back. Instead, they talk about it like mature adults and agree on it together. You know, like real people would do.
There are several instances in the book that easily could have gone south but don’t because the characters behave in a rational manner. The way Nash feels about what happened with Sam for example. He realizes it wasn’t Sam’s fault and he’s being the bigger person about it. I love that about Nash.
Reading about how Nash evolves from bitter and jaded and following along as he falls in love with Emmitt, is wonderful and believable. Both Nash and Emmitt are wonderful, three-dimensional characters. Nash has a really hard time all through the book, but he tries his hardest to move on and to be a good person. Emmitt is really dreamy; how he’s secretly been interested in Nash for a long time, but still offers to set him free when Nash loses his memory. It’s lovely to see how they’re both committed to each other from the start, but especially after Nash’s accident.
What I love the most about this book is the intimate moments between Nash and Emmitt that’s sprinkled throughout the story. I really love how Addison writes intimacy between lovers. It’s another thing that feels real to me. Like it could be a scene taken from my own life.
I would be remiss if I wrote a review about this book without mentioning Grampy, Emmitt’s grandfather. He’s a wonderful character, a mischievous old man who loves his grandson wholeheartedly and who accepts Nash fully. In fact: if I got one complaint about To Love and To Cherish, it is that Grampy needs more on-page time.
TL;DR: this is a heartwarming story about two men finding love after giving up hope on finding The One. But most of all it’s a story full of real, wonderful characters. I warmly recommend it!