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SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
Just One of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen is a book that has so many of my favorite things in it: small town, puppy, best-friends-to-more trope, sports, a quirky grandmother, a kickass heroine, and a sexy boat building lawyer. Madsen’s storytelling here is comfortable, humorous, and warm-hearted.
Addie is an unapologetic tomboy, who has always hung out with her group of guy friends. When her best guy friend, Tucker, returns to their hometown, deciding that big city life as a lawyer wasn’t cutting it, Addie and Tucker begin to see each other in a different light.
This was such an easy novel to enjoy. Addie’s self-consciousness felt real as did Tucker’s selflessness.
Usually I’m a fan of the final big gesture but this one didn’t really work for me considering its location (in front of the whole town) and how many times the word “sexy” was used…in front of the whole town. That was a bit ick.
I am looking forward to more stories in this series. I wish we had seen how Shep and Lexi got together because it seemed like it would have been a fun story too.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Tucker cautiously wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and when she didn’t shove him off, the way she’d done a few times back in the day when he’d dared to console her, he curled her closer. “Don’t worry. I’ll take it to the grave.”“I’m not sure I can chance that. I might have to push you off the back of the boat now.”
“Sure. If I didn’t know how to swim, that’d be a fail-safe plan.”
“Maybe the gators will get to you first,” she quipped, only then she tucked her feet up, like she’d remembered there might be a few of the toothy beasts slumbering in the water, despite the fact that they rarely saw any on this side of the shore. She swiped a tear off her cheek and sniffed. “I hate feeling weak. Hate feeling like a girl. Even though I’m apparently not one.”
“You’re not weak. I’ve seen grown men cry in my office, so I don’t think it’s a girl or guy thing.”
“I notice you didn’t admit to crying yourself.”
He puffed out his chest. “Well, that’s because I’m far too macho.” The last few times he’d gotten choked up had been over his dog having to be put down, his grandfather passing away, and—even though he’d done his damnedest to hide it—the day he’d said goodbye to his friends before leaving town.
The girl at his side was there for all those instances, but his conflicting feelings for her made it hard to admit to ever being anything but strong. Like not saying it aloud would make her forget bike wrecks and scraped knees that’d brought tears, the times in his life he hadn’t stood up for other people when he should’ve, or any other time he’d been less than strong.
Just do it, Crawford. Find a way to make her feel better, the way she always did for you.
“There were cases, ones where I was fighting for a worthy cause, or for someone who truly deserved a break, and it didn’t matter how much research I put in, or how hard I fought, I’d still lose ’em. That made me feel weak and helpless.” Those “cases were why he’d originally chosen law, but they’d been so few and far between. “So did the cases where we had to defend people knowing full well they were guilty.”
He gazed out over the lake, unable to look at her as he admitted the next part. “I missed home and all of you guys, but I quit over more than that, and more than the long hours.” His fingers drifted down her arm, and her face tipped up, but he kept his eyes on the rippling reflection of the moon in the inky black water. “One guy walked on a stupid technicality because of something I’d found in the police report—some procedure the cop didn’t follow. Everyone at the firm was celebrating, and I was sick over it. The guy deserved to go to jail, and no amount of money seemed worth ignoring that fact. It was the final straw.”
Addie covered the hand he had on her arm with hers. “Most people wouldn’t have been able to walk away from the money.”
“I don’t know about that. Half the time I still think I was an idiot to quit like that with no backup.”
“If it makes you feel any better, I’m glad you’re here.”
He met her big brown eyes and smiled. “It does.”
“I’m sorry you were so unhappy. I should’ve checked in more.”
“I should’ve told you that I was struggling with my job. But that’s neither here nor there. Now I’m on a different path, and all’s I’m saying is, it’s not weak to care about things. You’re not a robot.” He renewed the drag of his fingers on her arm, and her chin lifted another inch or so, some of the sorrow fading from her features. He tried not to think about how close her lips were to his, how he felt each one of his heartbeats, and how having her tucked against him made his entire body hum. Despite knowing better, he couldn’t help the words that slipped out, or that his dipped when he said them. “It also hasn’t escaped my notice that you’re a girl.”
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