Title: Here With Me
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
Series: Archer Brothers #1
Release Date: October 23, 2014
Ryley Clarke has grown up with the military in her blood, with both parents serving their country. Ryley knows the risks of being married to the military. But when the unthinkable happens, and her future husband is killed in action, Ryley can barely survive… until Evan’s twin brother, Nate, helps her pick up the pieces.
After serving on a special mission with the military for six years, Evan Archer returns home to find the unthinkable – the love of his life, Ryley Clarke – engaged to his brother, Nate. With Nate on deployment, Evan needs to figure out what happened in his absence, and more importantly, how to win Ryley back from the man he once considered his best friend, but now thinks of as his rival.
This book has me reeling. My head is spinning and my heart is refusing to settle in my chest. This whole story was one rollercoaster of emotions and I can’t quite wrap my head around it. This is the first book in a series, so there are still plenty of questions to be answered and a long way for the characters to go before they find their fairytale endings. Yet this book somehow managed to put me back together again after thoroughly breaking me. I honestly can’t wait for the next book. I’m dying to see where this story is going to end up, although I’ll admit I’m nervous that things may not turn out the way I want them to.
Coming from a military family, this book really resonated with me. Heidi did an amazing job infusing the passion for service and unwavering fidelity to country that comprises the soul of a military member. Every piece of Evan and Ryley’s story walked the line between the selfless devotion to a greater cause and the absolute heartbreak of finding out that the one institution you’d give your life for may be the reason for your pain. While these characters were battling their private wars at home, Heidi ensured my connection to the story by voicing and validating each and every complicated feeling the characters were experiencing.
The storyline of Here With Me is incredibly complex and thoughtfully mapped out to keep the reader guessing, even as more details were revealed. It is clear that Heidi has this story meticulously mapped out so as to build the suspense while giving the reader the necessary reassurance. The complicated mess that has become the characters’ lives has me on the edge of my seat, tapping my foot, demanding answers. This story is so unique and thrilling and I’m seriously thirsty for more. With each twist and turn, I can feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into this story.
Heidi has written incredibly raw and real characters that have definitely staked their claim on my heart. The overwhelming emotional turmoil experienced in this book is heart wrenching while the love and hope that floats through the air is absolutely breathtaking. The captivating storyline had me unable to put the book down until I’d finished it. I cried several times while reading Here With Me. The emotions are so genuine and Heidi has masterfully placed them just beneath the surface where even the tiniest disturbance is capable of unleashing a hurricane of feelings. This is not a book you will want to miss. Heidi has unquestionably outdone herself with this stunning story.
Here With Me by Heidi McLaughlin is one of those books that had been sitting on my kindle for a while just screaming at me to be read. I knew what an emotional turmoil it would put me through so I think that I subconsciously continued to push it off. With the upcoming release of the second book, I decided to dive in. Now I’m kicking myself for not waiting for the sequel while simultaneously beating myself up for waiting so long to be lost in this vortex.
“I was the firework. I was the butterfly. I was every analogy you could think of.”
McLaughlin writes her characters in a way that instantly likened me to them. The first half of the book is made up of therapy sessions from two of the main characters, Ryley and Evan, in alternating points of view. The manner in which this is done immediately sucked you into the story and into the hearts of what they have been through. Evan is a member of the Navy and has been away the past six years. Ryley, and the rest of his family, was under the impression that he and his crew had died, even though he received word that his brother knew where he was. Needless to say, when Evan shows up, a mass feeling of confusion, anger, hurt, relief, and just about everything in between is experienced. The way these scenes are translated create such an emotionally driven story with such raw, genuine heartache. It honestly left me breathless at times.
“I didn’t see stars. I became the star.”
The storyline is one that I had never come across before. Although it can be described as a love triangle, it never truly felt like one. Maybe it’s because Nate is gone until the very last chapter, or maybe just the love between Evan and Ryley resonated so strongly in the pages, but it just felt like a love story at its core. As heart-wrenching as it was, this story sears a mark into your soul. As a woman with a family, I understood the sentiments; as a person with family in the military, it branded and broke me.
“My first kiss was everything it was meant to be and more.”
Here With Me may be fictional, but these characters and their journey came to life for me through these pages. I wanted to dig deeper, but not because of a lacking in the storytelling, but because of a strong desire to become one with what I was experiencing. The cliffhanger was probably one of the more brutal I’ve read, but luckily, I won’t have to wait long to experience the next Archer brother’s story. McLaughlin has delivered a poignant, beautiful tale of love, survivorship, and heartbreak and I’m very much looking forward to what else she can bring to the table for this family.
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Don’t miss the rest of the Archer Brothers series:
Choose Me (Archer Brothers #2)
Save Me (Archer Brothers #3)
Heidi is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author.
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell and two Parakeets.
During the day Heidi is behind a desk talking about Land Use. At night, she’s writing one of the many stories planned for release or sitting court-side during either daughter’s basketball games.