Winter isn’t the only chill in the air on Turtle Lake.
When Sam Burgman’s mother, Gloria, nears the end of her battle with cancer, Sam makes the hard decision to leave his job as a corporate lawyer in Miami to take his mom home to Turtle Lake, Minnesota.
Ian Mendoza takes his job as Gloria’s caregiver very seriously, but unlike the assignments he’s taken in the past, Ian fails to maintain a professional distance when it comes to Sam. Unfortunately for Ian, Sam refuses to open his heart despite their mutual attraction.
Born and raised in Miami, Ian isn’t prepared for the frozen landscape that is Minnesota in the winter, but the chill he wants to erase is the one coming from Sam.
Reader Advisory: This book deals with maternal illness/death.
I read this book on my flight to GRL2016 in Kansas City. The author of this book is also one of the organizers, and I have mad respect for the fabulous work she does.
There's lots to like about this book. I especially like the title, because to me it has a dual meaning. The sunset at the lake is part of what Sam needs to remember, but it's also a hint at the sunset of his mother's life.
Sam's mother is dying of cancer. He moved her to Miami where he lives and works after his father's death so he can care for her with the help of her in-home nurse Ian. Sam is attracted to Ian, but doesn't want to start something that might end badly, and then lose the wonderful man taking care of his mother.
Sam is not ready to face the fact that his mother is dying. He knows it in his head, but his heart isn't there yet. Ian has been trying to get him to the point of accepting that it will happen, but he's not quite gotten there.
His mom wants to go home to Turtle Lake in Minnesota. She tells him so during her lucid moments, which are farther and farther apart.
When Sam realizes that he needs to take his mother home to Turtle Lake, to the house he grew up in, to the house where his father died, it's nearly Christmas. He knows this will be her last Christmas in the house she loves so much.
It's a heavy theme for a romance novel, to be sure, and Sam fights his attraction to Ian for a long time, and sticking his head in the sand about his mom, to the point of refusing to even talk about it. He's rude and obnoxious to Ian on occasion, lashing out in anger, but then apologizing for it. Ian is patient, but also feels that time is running out, and that Sam has to come to grips with the facts. His attraction to his employer is complicating things even more.
I do wish this book had been a little longer, to more deeply explore the growing relationship. We but get a glimpse of it, and when the UST finally culminated in getting between the sheets, it nearly felt like it happened because Sam needed the distraction, and perhaps the comfort. I have some doubts about a HEA for them due to the circumstances, even though the book ends with a HFN as far as the relationship is concerned.
I'm not ashamed to say that I sniffled a few times while reading this, especially during Sam's interactions with his mother, and especially when Ian finds them sitting in the chairs that overlook the lake. There's no doubt at all that Sam loves her and wants to do what's best for her. He also, finally, realizes why the house is so important to her, and why it's important to enjoy the small moments, just sitting on a chair watching the sun set over the lake.
I liked Ian - he was sweet and kind, but also had some backbone. Torn between wanting to care for Sam's mother as best as he could, and also falling for his employer, he was caught between a rock and a hard place.
The writing is descriptive and flows well, and the characters are well done, sufficiently explored for the length of this book. I recommend tissues while reading - you'll need them.
A beautiful glimpse into a short time period, but one that certainly packs a punch.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **
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