As a teenager, Archie Noblesse clawed his way out of the poverty, heartache, and abuse of the reservation and left his family behind. Desperate to shake the shadow of his past, he reinvents himself as Archer Noble, an outspoken blogger and controversial author who lives only for himself. But when his beloved sister dies, Archer is saddled with guardianship of his niece and nephew.
Elementary school teacher Ryan Eriksson is devastated when his best friend Marguerite is killed, leaving her two young children orphaned. Helping Archer with his new responsibilities eases his grief, but when Archer offers him custody of the children, Ryan’s left with an impossible choice: get the family he’s always wanted, or respect Margie’s wishes and convince Archer to give parenting—and his heritage—a chance.
To buy time, Ryan promises to stay for the summer, hoping that Archer will change his mind and fall for the kids. But Archer’s reluctant, and the growing attraction between him and Ryan complicates matters. Legal decisions must be made, and soon, before Ryan returns to school. But with hearts involved, more than just the children’s future is on the line.
When I first read this blurb, I thought it would be another great story by Chris Scully. I won’t say I was wrong, because I wasn’t. I will say it’s not what I was expecting.
First we have Ryan, whom I absolutely adored. He’s sweet, and he desperately wants a family of his own. A husband, some kids, even the house with the white picket fence. But things haven’t worked out for him the way he hoped. He gets by because he’s surrounded by children on a daily basis in his job as a teacher. It doesn’t fill all the holes in his life, though. Far from it in fact. But when a tragic accident claims the life of his best friend, Marguerite, Ryan steps up to care for them until their uncle, Archer, shows up. And when he does, he is definitely not the person Ryan would pick for a guardian for two kids.
Archer is opinionated. He’s rude. He’s condescending. In fact, in the beginning, Archer is very tough to like. BUT! He’s got reasons. He’s built up this shell around himself since he was a kid himself on the reservation. This book offers a glimpse into what life is like for Aboriginal peoples. The destitution, the hopelessness. Archer does what he had to for him and Marguerite to survive, and it’s made him cold and hard.
I’m going to admit, at the beginning I had a tough time with Archer. I really wanted to like him, but some of the things he does make it so difficult. You get to a point where you start to wonder if he’s ever going to be able to step up and be the guardian these kids need, or if he’s going to bail and leave them with Ryan–who should be overjoyed with that option–but he convinces Archer to take a chance. Give himself the opportunity to see what a family is about. Even if it’s going to cost him what he most desires.
Archer stumbles several times, and some of them make you want to reach into the book and smack the man, but there is also a vulnerability there that he tries so hard to keep hidden. When another potential tragedy occurs, will Archer finally do what he knows he has to and bail, leaving Ryan to care for his niece and nephew, or will he finally realize that sometimes being there for someone means standing your ground and holding on?
I’m very glad I stuck with this book, despite my initial misgivings about Archer. His isn’t an easy story to read, and Chris Scully doesn’t sugarcoat it in any way. Take a chance on this family. You’ll find yourself drawn in like I was.