Susan Andersen's latest All Shook Up is a book that doesn't push the familiar comic buttons but instead opts for a solid romance with all the traditional messages and values.
Dru Lawrence, unmarried mother of a ten year old son, and J.D. Carver, brought up in foster homes and educated on the streets, are thrown in together without a chance of escape in a surrounding that doesn't allow for any distractions to their growing attraction for each other.
Having inherited a share in the Lawrence's family business, the Star Lake Lodge in Washington, J.D. has to face in them a family more than willing to embrace him in their folds and provide him with all the emotional support he could want - if he weren't too afraid to ask for it.
Dru, optimistic despite from disappointments in her past, takes up the challenge to prove J.D., a bad boy who has never been one to be loved and cuddled, that love and trust can be won and kept. Except J.D.'s past is waiting to intrude in his newly found paradise....
It's beautiful and heart-warming to watch how the love of a woman, the hero worship of a boy and the support and trust of a family wear down J.D.'s defences to reveal a man filled with the yearning for love and belonging.
All of Susan Andersen's characters are so well developed in their actions and their voice that one can't help but identify with them; it is easy to suffer through their pains and enjoy their love. Ms. Andersen creates, with a very honest, direct and funny voice, strong and imperfect characters who are willing to risk pain and disappointment in order to fight for what they want and believe in.
I thank you, Ms. Andersen, for a tale so heartfelt and charming it left me with an ache for something just like it and the promise of it being possible. This is another Susan Andersen book on my keeper shelf.