Friday, December 26, 2014

Archer's Voice by Mia Sheridan

Archer's Voice (A Sign of Love)* * * 1/2

When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.

Archer's Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.

THIS IS A STAND-ALONE SIGN OF LOVE NOVEL, INSPIRED BY SAGITTARIUS. New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.


This is almost embarrassing to admit but, a few months ago, I did a book search for virgin heroes.  I had just watched the first episode of Outlander and, although the big de-flowering scene didn’t happen until episode 7, I was reminded of the quote from the book:

“As yet too hungry and too clumsy for tenderness, still he made love with a sort of unflagging joy that made me think that male virginity might be a highly underrated commodity.”

Anyone who has read Outlander knows this quote and scene well.  There IS something seductive about a virgin hero.  And the reason that it is seductive will differ from person to person.  For some it will be the attraction of having a more experienced heroine taking on the role of teacher in the bedroom and maybe even out of it.  For others it might be the allure of reading about a man that is both emotionally AND sexually bound to one person.   And, for people like me, it’s the charm of having a hero that is vulnerable in a way that most fictional heroes aren’t.  Oh, and as Clare Fraser said, there is something fairly hot about all that “unflagging joy.”

So back to my point which is my search for virgin heroes…In that search I kept seeing Archer’s Voice come up.  I’ve kept it on my radar and bought it recently when it was yet again recommended to me.  And as a gift to myself for finishing three reviews I let myself take a break from review books and indulge in this one. 
After a horrible crime takes away Bree Prescott’s only family and leaves her with flashbacks that she re-lives daily, she desperately runs away from her home state of Ohio to a spot in Maine that she used to visit with her parents.  She doesn’t know how long she’ll stay in Pelion.  She only knows that she’ll be there long enough to get a job and save up some cash until she moves onto the next place or goes back home.  After a drugstore run, Bree manages to drop her newly bought supplies in the parking lot.  How embarrassing.  Even more embarrassing is the quiet unkempt guy that helps her pick it all up.  Not only does he hand her back some tampons (gah!) but he doesn’t respond to a single thing she says.  Just stares at her uncomfortably and walks away.  But even during their odd meeting there seems to be an instant connection that she can’t define. 
It doesn’t take long for Bree to learn that the strange guy she met is the town freak, Archer Hale.  After being shot when he was 7 years old, he lived with his uncle who raised him on his very secluded property in Pelion.  I personally loved Bree’s response to people when she was told his story.  Her response was essentially, “And you all just stood around and didn’t help him or become his friend?”

Archer Hale was seven when his world was irreparably damaged.  Tragedy left him in the care of his only living uncle.  A kind man but also a very paranoid one.  Between Uncle Nate’s need for seclusion and Archer’s inability to communicate, Archer spent the following 16 years alone.  He communicated with his uncle but when Nate passed away, he had no one.   Needless to say Archer is unsure how to act around pretty much everyone in any kid of social situation.  So when the young woman at the drugstore spoke directly to him he was at a complete loss.  The only response he was capable of was to walk away. 

Bree begins spending her free days down on the beach near Archer’s home.  Each time, on her way there and back she stops.  She is curious about the strange man that, according to what she has learned from the locals, has suffered extreme loss and lives a secluded life, only coming to town when he needs supplies.  But she never has the courage to enter his property and say hi until one day her dog makes the decision for her by taking off through Archer’s slightly open gate.  

That first official meeting is both hilarious and a little heartbreaking because even though this story is mostly told through Bree’s POV, the author does an amazing job of showing Archer’s loneliness, fear and social ineptitude.   The two of them slowly become friends.  Archer finds in Bree a friend that can (and is willing) to communicate with him.  Bree finds a friend that is compassionate, understanding and quietly intelligent.   Their friendship blooms into something more, of course.  And that initial spark that Bree felt in the parking lot of the drugstore becomes huge and hot between them.  But both of these young people have a lot of issues to work through.  Archer especially.  They have to work through a lot before they can get their happy ever after. 

What I appreciated most about this book was how believable the connection was between Bree and Archer.  The circumstances surrounding each of their lives, particularly Archer’s, could have made this love story seem a bit predatory.  But by allowing Archer to have a presence (albeit, small) outside of his home and by establishing their instant connection before they officially meet, I found their love story not only believable but also engaging.

I have read some reviews where readers complained that the story was too slow.  I personally thought that it could have been drawn out even more.  Not for the benefit of the love story but the benefit of Archer’s growth.  You can’t live that long without human contact AND not being able to communicate regularly and not be seriously affected.  I felt that maybe he would have been more socially inept than he was.  And at one point, when he decides he needs to leave Pelion to experience a bit more of the world, I felt that maybe he should have taken more time than he did. 

But those complaints are small compared to all the things I enjoyed about Bree and Archer’s story.  The humor, the angst, the slight melodrama, two kind and likeable main characters….Oh, and let’s not forget the “unflagging joy.”  Seriously, some of the intimate scenes between Bree and Archer about set my e-reader on fire.  

If you are looking to indulge in a sizzling and angsty New Adult story, then Archer’s Voice is amazingly gratifying. 

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