*****5 ‘Measure of a Mother’ STARS*****

What is the measure of a good mother?  Is there a definitive measure?  Or is it subjective based on life experience and circumstance?  Desperation, devastation, injustice, hope and love showcase this beautiful struggle as one mother shows how far she would go to provide for and protect her children.  I had no idea this story would take hold of me like it did.  Page after page I cried and cheered; I respected Gia and her determination to succeed and build a better life for her kids.  In the end, I was touched by the journey Stephie Walls took me on in this new spin on a Cinderella and her genuine, gentle alpha prince.

“Desperation was a crazy motivator.”

The unfairness in life can be summed in so many words: It. Sucks.  Gianna/Gia LeBron (h) has dealt with her fair share of life’s disappointments and the hits just keep coming.  Desperate to keep her children fed and a roof over their heads, Gia has choices to make.  And not all of them are black and white.  I’ve heard that when a mother gives birth she can immediately feel an invisible cord snap into place cementing a love, a bond, like no other.  That in those moments, in the discovery of new life, the protective instinct is so powerful even fathers can’t comprehend its depth.  This emotional connection is shown so powerfully here – tenderness and strength.  Gia’s lost so much in her short life but focuses solely on her children and how she will provide a good life for them.  Forged in a past of ‘should haves’ she places the guilt over their present circumstances squarely (and wrongly) on her shoulders.  A history of doing ‘the right thing’ hasn’t worked in her favor so far – but that doesn’t stop her.  She’s determined to provide for her family the right way – by working hard and earning it.  Except that only goes so far.  Sometimes the right thing just isn’t enough.  Life just isn’t fair.

                “Which is more important – respect or feeding your children?”

Jase Lane (H) is enchanted.  On a normal everyday afternoon he witnesses the utter joy displayed by a stranger in the lobby of his family’s company and it intrigues him.  Thinking he’ll never see her again he’s ecstatic when he realizes she now works for his company.  His mission:  find out her name and get to know the beautiful woman with sadness lurking in her eyes.  It’s not long before Jase is developing feelings – the complicated kind.  A study in contradictions, handsome Jase is far from a lady killer.  Sex he’s done, long term relationship experience is different and equals zilch – women make him nervous and usually love his wallet far more than him – so figuring out how to develop and maintain a relationship with Gia is way out of his league.  This man is so very opposite of the in-your-face alphas that are so popular right now.  In the beginning of the story I wasn’t so sure about Jase, but I didn’t let that stop me.  And I am so glad because I love Jase Lane so very much precisely because of what he’s not.  This caring, tender, gentle alpha (yes, he is an alpha – just a different kind) fits the definition of a ‘real’ man, the man every woman wants to come home to and build dreams with and Gia has no idea Jase wants to build those dreams with her.

“He was calculated but tender, manly but gentle.”

I love books that come out of nowhere and smack me right in the face.  And this one did exactly that.  Page after page I thought I knew where this story was heading.  I didn’t.  This isn’t your average call-girl story line (and that’s all I’m giving you).  I loved Gia and her moxie, but Jase stole my heart right out from under me.  Two words…relationship goals.  These two struggle don’t get me wrong, but the heart of their love story, their relationship – I coveted.  This mature representation of communication and compromise I often find lacking in love stories – not here.  This man, so very tender and loving yet dominant and unbending.  There’s something so sexy about a man that knows when to give and when to stand firm and dish out the alpha.   His ‘daddy mode’ melted my heart and was such a sweet look at his relationship with the kids.   His yearning to take care of Gia and the kids, to give them everything they dreamed of was right out of the story books, and the catalyst that forces him to prove just what he’s willing to sacrifice drives home what a hero this man truly is – heart and soul.  I admired Gia and wanted to shake her several times.  It was easy to get lost in the story and want her to make different decisions, but her journey was hers – and needed to unfold in its own truth.  I’m not sure I would have been as effected or believed in the story as strongly if she had acted differently.  That’s my catch-22 of a great story, me emotionally invested and yelling at my kindle, loving and hating where I’m being taken, while the characters ignore me and tell their story.  And in this case, it was a painful and heartbreaking yet uplifting and beautiful life story – a study of contradictions, just like the characters I spent the afternoon falling in love with.  I’ll certainly be back for the next journey Ms. Wells offers.

“He couldn’t stop my heart from breaking or right the wrongs I’d made.  He didn’t try to dry my eyes or pretend he could fix the place we were in.  But his embrace told me silently he would just keep loving me, through it all.”

K’s Category: 1st date, first novel read by author to date / 2017 Top Pick

Trigger Warning: Fade to black implied sexual assault

Characters: M/F

OM/OW: Yes, but not what you think…

Sex: Yes, descriptive

HEA: Yes

Standalone: Yes