Reviewed by Marlene
I picked up Make Me Stay because I’ve read Burton’s entire Hope series so far, and reviewed all of them here at The Book Pushers. (Start with Hope Flames). I’m obviously hooked, although I’m not totally sure why. I think I just like these people.
Hope, Oklahoma is a small town, not too far from Tulsa, that is growing and changing. But the core of the town is the people who grew up there, including the McCormack boys, Luke, Logan and Reid, and the friends they made when they all went to high school together.
In addition to the McCormacks, we’ve also seen a couple of their best friends finally get their own happily ever afters, but Make Me Stay is Reid McCormack’s story. The title makes things obvious from the beginning. Reid left Hope for college, and has stayed away ever since, building a business and making a career as an architect and contractor just about as far from Hope as he could get. Reid’s life is in Boston now.
But he’s back in Hope for the moment, because he and his brothers have bought the old Mercantile Building in downtown Hope. The plan is for Reid to do the architectural plans, and then help his friend and fellow contractor Deacon Fox with the teardown and rehab. They are trying to return the old Mercantile to the look of its glory days, so it can be the centerpiece of downtown again, only this time with retail on the first floor and beautiful offices on the second and third. It’s going to be a showpiece.
And Reid is enjoying being back home more than he thought. The project, with all its frustrations, is every bit the fantastic experience he thought it would be, but being home is much sweeter than he expected.
Hope has grown since he left, and every time he turns around someone is asking Reid to draw up plans for a remodeling job or a business expansion. Unlike the way things were a dozen years ago, now there is plenty of work in Hope if Reid wants to come back.
In addition to all the work and all the joy of being home, Reid has found a woman he might want to spend the rest of his life with. Only if he can manage to admit it to himself. And especially only is Samantha Reasor can let herself rely on someone to help her carry the burdens that she has always expected to shoulder alone.
Sam starts a relationship with Reid expecting a fling while he works on the Mercantile, expecting him to return to Boston at the end of the job. A fling is all that she has time or energy for, as her beloved Grammy Claire starts having episodes of memory loss, and Sam fears the worst. She knows she’s going to lose the only family she has left, and lose her in pieces as Alzheimer’s takes away the woman who raised her.
Sam is afraid to lean on Reid, even though he keeps being there for her as the crisis deepens. Sam hasn’t had anyone except Grammy Claire to rely on since her parents died when she was a child. She is rightfully worried about leaning on someone who has always been upfront about his plan to be gone.
And she won’t ask him to stay. Sam doesn’t think it’s fair to drag Reid any further into her mess. But Reid is looking for a reason to change his plans. He’s already changed his mind. And his heart.
Make Me Stay is kind of a quiet love story. There’s no big crisis between Reid and Sam, just a lot of little stutter-steps as the two of them work their way from friends-with-benefits to lovers to partners. They both have histories of losing people they rely on, and they are both afraid to trust. But it all makes sense for them and their relationship.
I particularly liked that Sam was independent. She doesn’t see Reid as a rescue, and she doesn’t need to be rescued. She needs someone to support her so that she can continue to stand strong. And she’s right to be worried about him leaving, he’s always said that he would. There’s no lie, there’s no misunderstandammit, there’s just two adults who have a lot to work out.
Sam’s situation with Grammy Claire is heartbreaking, and is going to continue to be. This part of the story does not have a happy ending. And even though Grammy Claire is mostly all right at the end of this book, I’m certain that as the series progresses there will be more bad days to come. And it feels real.
All of the books in this series have featured animals in one way or another, and my favorite character in this book is the dog that adopts Reid. Reid keeps telling people that he’s “not my dog” whenever they ask, so of course the dog’s name eventually becomes “Not My Dog”. Which is an infinitely better name than “No No Bad Dog” as so many get. While Not My Dog is a sweetie, it’s the way that Reid’s attitude toward the dog evolves that we see his heart turn towards home.
I give Make Me Stay a B+
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