The Promise
by Tory Richards, contemporary (2011)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.75, ISBN 978-1-59578-818-4


Shannon Hayes's husband of six years, David, was killed in Iraq last year and now she is spending her first Christmas without him. Luckily for her, her brother-in-law Ryan is there to pick up the pieces of her heart and become the daddy to her two-year old daughter. Despite having met her only twice, Ryan is in love with her, but he is determined to never let her know his feelings even as he decides to honor his vow to his brother to take care of her.

That's pretty much the plot of this story. If that synopsis sounds creepy, well, this story is actually much better than you may think. The author handles pretty well the issue of moving on from David from Shannon's perspective. Shannon can sometimes seems too gullible for her age when it comes to sex and the opposite sex, but on the whole, she is a pretty smart woman with a good sense of self-awareness. Ryan, on the other hand, can become tedious to read when he continues to act as if he'd single-handed killed his brother to remove the competition. His feelings for Shannon come off as tad creepy at first since it's obsessive desire mixed with an obsessive need to use that desire to martyr himself. Eventually, the story hinges on everyone waiting for him to come around to decide that it's okay to be with Shannon. It's so silly. Everyone is fine with the relationship. It's just Ryan trying so hard to be a drama queen about the whole thing, and hurt Shannon in the process.

Still, despite the general eye-rolling antics of the hero, The Promise is a well-written story about moving on in life and finding love again. The story isn't anything new and there are no surprises here, but the sensitive treatment of Shannon's bereavement and her next chance at love makes this one a pretty emotionally satisfying read.

Rating: 80


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