I am pretty late to the party when it comes to The Archer Brothers series by Heidi McLaughlin. Here With Me has been out for quite awhile, but it was one of those books that I just wasn't ready for. At first, I was waiting since I knew it ended with a cliffhanger and I wanted to make sure that I could read it back to back. I knew that this one was a love triangle that was bound to be filled with angst and I needed to know that I could immediately dive into the next one. Once the second book was released though, I just wasn't ready for some reason and these books got put on the back burner. After a recent discussion I saw on facebook about them though, I figured it was finally time to dive in and just go with it, especially since I have been in a military book mood after reading a really great one. I am so glad that I read this one, though I will admit that it wasn't easy. This book is an emotional read, and I think that it is one that will definitely bring out strong feelings in everyone who reads it. I already can't wait to start Choose Me to see what happens next!
Ryley Clarke grew up in a military family and knew everything that went along with that. So when her fiance and his twin brother told her that they were joining the military, she supported them instantly. But when she was told that her fiance Evan was killed on a mission while she was home pregnant with their son, her life fell apart. Though reluctant at first, Ryley was eventually able to begin the process of moving on as Evan's twin brother Nate helped fill the void that Evan had left behind. Now six years after losing Evan, Ryley and Nate are engaged and set to marry within a few weeks time. But when Ryley returns home one day and finds Evan waiting for her on her porch, her whole life is once again thrown for a loop. Evan had thought his fiance and son were at home waiting for him to return, but when he sees the shock on Ryley's face he knows that things aren't adding up. Now Evan and Ryley must try to figure out what happened and why nothing is as they thought it was. Evan is determined to win Ryley back as he knows that they belong together, but Ryley knows that things aren't that simple.
My heart literally broke for these characters and the impossible situation that they found themselves in. As more and more was revealed about the six years they were apart, I found myself wondering what was really going on just as they were. I wanted answers and I wanted those responsible to pay. I was firmly team Evan here, despite the fact that Nate was a good guy that had helped Ryley in her time of need. Nate was great and I really think that he deserves a happy ending as well, but I thought that the connection that Evan and Ryley shared was beyond what she could ever have with Nate. Part of that was because this book focused on Evan's return and we got to see so much of their past and how they fell in love. But I also just felt like the bond that was between Ryley and Evan was one that is rare and special, and only exists between those that are soul mates meant to spend their lives together. The heat and chemistry between them had clearly never gone away, but I really loved how it was dealt with here. We got to see them reconnecting and yet it was handled delicately and with as much respect as possible considering the situation they were in.
I was captivated right from the start of Here With Me, and I couldn't put this one down. There were a few times that I was frustrated with the characters here, but I kept thinking about the situation they were all in and it was easy to see how difficult it would be on everyone involved. The ending was a bit tough as it was clear that there is so much pain and hurt coming, and it made me really stop to think about not just Evan and Ryley, but also Nate. Though I am still firmly team Evan, Nate has definitely found his way into my heart as well and I don't want to see him hurt either. I really think that Evan and Ryley should end up together, and I loved seeing Evan bond with EJ and Ryley here. But I also want Nate to end up in a good place and get his own HEA. I can't wait to read Choose Me to hopefully get the ending they all deserve and I am dying to know what happened with the mission that took Evan away from his family and Ryley. This is definitely a book that I would recommend, and I think that readers should keep an open mind when starting. The circumstances here are hard to believe and the love triangle with twin brothers is one that could keep potential readers from giving this one a shot, but I do think that this is worth the read and Heidi McLaughlin is a great writer that I have faith will do justice to all those involved.