I am a huge fan of Beth Ehemann’s Cranberry Inn series. It’s one of those that has me breaking out into huge smiles while reading and leaves my heart with such a warm and happy feeling when I reach the last page. I like to think of it as the literary equivalent of comfort food. In that series, we’re introduced to Viper, a hockey teammate of Brody (the male lead). Viper is a wild child, playing fast and loose on and off the ice, particularly where women are concerned. While I found his character amusing, there was definitely no real connection there and I wasn’t over-the-top excited when I found out he was going to be getting a book of his own. I held off on reading Cement Heart, but recently decided to give it a shot after discovering it was available in audiobook. I expected it to be an entertaining accompaniment to my lengthy commute. What I didn’t expect was to be swept up and knocked off my feet by the depth of this story.
The character development in Cement Heart is absolutely fantastic. Beth takes what could have easily been a one-note, almost caricaturesque man and wrapped him up in layers of feelings, emotions, and experiences. She gives us a lead who has spent so much of his life closed off from meaningful interaction that he has forgotten what actually lies beneath. After experiencing a gutting, life-changing loss, Viper is forced to begin to chip away at the layers encasing his heart as he begins to transition into a new normal. Complicating matters is the fact that he’s also faced with having to navigate the unsteady waters of a friendship teetering on the brink of evolving into something much
Cement Heart takes a journey of self-discovery and a burgeoning romance and beautifully intertwines them over the course of the book from separate elements into one. I unexpectedly found myself completely invested in Viper’s transformation from loose cannon to stand-up man. I love that even after he frees himself from the chains of the past that have weighed him down, he still retains the essence of what makes him him. The result is Viper 2.0, a better, stronger version of himself and one that had me feverishly hoping he would find his happily ever after. Beth’s versatility as an author is on full display in Cement Heart. I will not repeat the mistake of putting her books on the back burner after this incredibly pleasant surprise of a novel!
“Michelle had waves. I had doors. Maybe we could sit on my door and float on top of those waves together.”
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