Series: Man Enough #2
Published by Swerve on June 27, 2017
Source: the publisher
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He’s Mr. Wrong, she’s Miss Independent. When the two come together, sparks fly! Don’t miss Along Came Us, a sexy and heartwarming romance from Nicole McLaughlin.
National Guardsman Tyler Cavallo knows all too well what it feels like to be a volatile teenager. There was a time when it seemed like everyone—be it his father, a rival gang member, or his opponent in the MMA cage—was out to get him. These days he focuses that fight into his gym where he mentors at-risk youths. But one particular teen has Tyler more concerned than usual, and if he’s learned one thing in life, it’s to trust his instincts, and right now those instincts are telling him that this boy isn’t safe.
Lia Hanson is a woman on a mission. With bills to pay, and a younger brother to raise, and two full time jobs, she’s working her ass off and doing the best she can. But in a few months she will finally graduate from college and be able to put most of that behind her for good. Or so she thinks, until a certain overbearing and stupidly good looking gym owner acts like he knows what’s best for her brother. A man is the last thing she wants, and this man is certainly not who she pictured as a stable role model. Lia thought she had a plan, but Tyler’s support, strength and passion have her realizing that sometimes the best things in life come when they’re least expected.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
WHY I READ IT:
About two weeks ago, I talked about how much I love reading basically anything Nicole McLaughlin (previously Nicole Michaels) writes. It was a no-brainer that when the second book in her new Man Enough Series became available, I would be reading it.
Along Came Us by Nicole McLaughlin is the second book in the Man Enough Series, featuring Tyler and Lia. Tyler is the owner of a local gym and a National Guardsman; Lia is a full-time college student with two jobs, working to support her teenage brother. Lia meets Tyler when she receives a call that she should come to Tyler’s gym to pick up her brother because he’s been involved in a fight. She learns that Tyler opens his gym to at-risk teen boys and offers them a place to work out for free in exchange for good attendance at school. Tyler wants to train Caleb to defend himself because it seems that he is a target for bullying. Lia refuses to consent to any fighting at all because she doesn’t encourage fighting, ever.
Tyler has a past history of underground fighting and then professional fighting before his military service. He spent time overseas and is now in the National Guard with Reeve from All I Ask and several other close friends. He believes that equipping Caleb with the knowledge to defend himself will give him the confidence and ability if he finds himself in a fight situation again. He likes Caleb and it is clear that the teen looks up to Tyler in the absence of any other male role models in his life. Lia’s background with her parents is a rough one. Specifically, her stepfather was rough and even abusive and took his anger out on her mother and even on her.
Once Tyler realizes that he is attracted to her, it takes Lia a while to warm up to his flirting and a little longer to reciprocate. Lia has issues with trust. Thankfully Tyler recognizes this and is very patient. As they spend more time together, first because of Caleb as a shared interest, then as they begin to date – it feels like it takes forever for Lia to be receptive to Tyler in any way. I love the way Tyler pursues her, though. He is careful not to come across as overbearing but he makes sure to be honest about his intentions and what he wants.
The best parts of the story were, of course, Tyler himself and his friends. I adore the other Guardsmen and have since they were all introduced in the first book.
My biggest issues with this story are:
1. Lia has a huge secret that she is keeping from both Tyler and Caleb. I really dislike secrets in romances because they always backfire. This one is just, wow. And when it is revealed, it is jaw-dropping. I felt awful for all parties involved.
2. This book is a mixture of several plot details and tropes mixed together that aren’t my favorites. I hesitate to reveal them all because of spoiling the plot, but one example is that I don’t always love children in romance stories. In this case, it worked out because Caleb is a teenager and helped to further the plot rather than provide comic relief for stressful situations. But it also felt like he made the book less like romance and more fiction-y.
Thankfully the resolution was a good one and everything worked out for everyone in the end.
I liked this one, but I don’t think I liked it as much as the first book in this series. I feel like this is mainly because it lacks the light-hearted banter and humor that the first book had and the romance is slightly less compelling to me. The story itself is a good one, though, and it’s certainly reread-worthy. I’m desperate for more information about the rest of this series. I would love to know when the rest of the National Guardsmen will have their stories published. There is one in particular that I’m dying for.