Release Day Review: Unraveled by Jen Frederick

Oh, Gray.

Gray, Gray, Gray.

You are in idiot of the first order. But you sure do know how to make a girl squirm.

In Jen Frederick’s Unspoken, we were introduced to Bo and Noah’s buddy Gray Phillips. In Unraveled, we get inside his head, and it’s a little messed up. But that’s okay. Sam Anderson’s a little messed up, too. Anyone would be after being widowed at such a young age.

Gray’s gotten an unprecedented 45 day leave, and he intends to use the time to make a potentially life changing decision – re-enlist or get out. His grandfather and father were both career Marines, and he’d always assumed he would be, too.

He crashes with Noah and Bo and their roommates in the Woodlands while he wrestles with his choice, one that is surprisingly harder than he’d thought it would be. With the troop draw-down, there’s less action to be had. But he has no idea what he’d do with himself if he got out.

unraveled woodlandOut for a night of drinking, he meets Sam, who’s working as a bartender. One explosive encounter in a back hallway later, and he’s accusing her of cheating after he catches the ring on her finger.

The ring she can’t bring herself to take off, even two years later.

They manage to work past it, but their relationship sputters in the beginning. Sam’s waking up and realizing all she’s missed out on the past few years, but the pain of having to do all of life’s new things without her husband at her side still holds her back sometimes. For his part, Gray hasn’t had an actual relationship in years, not after he came home from deployment and found his girlfriend cheating on him.

For all the growth that Sam goes through in Unraveled, I felt like this was really Gray’s story. He had the most to lose – and the most to gain. Taking Sam on adventure after adventure opens him in a way he hasn’t felt in years, and he doesn’t know how to handle it. He panics, more than once, and makes an ass of himself, more than once. And when he sets out to try and make things right, he does it in the most heartmeltingly way possible. Big, manly Marine + yarn = Oh, Gray. Gray, Gray, Gray.

I know very little about the military and the terms of enlistment and deployment, but I felt that the situation Gray was in was pretty realistic. Enlisting during a time of conflict is one thing. Staying in after the adrenalin rush has faded is another. How do you continue to serve your country in a time of piece, when all you’ve known so far is war?

The conversations Gray and Sam have, about being in the Marines, what it means to be a military spouse, how to grieve and handle grief, were thoughtful and well-placed. Once they moved past their initial bumps, their relationship wasn’t all smexy times (although I expect there to be a run on Land Rovers after people read this book). The adventures and quiet times they share were fun and sometimes bittersweet, because they know that at the end of Gray’s leave, he has to go back to base, regardless of whether he’s come to a decision or not.

Sam’s easy to relate to. She’s learning to be fearless and understands her own limitations when it comes to what she can hold back and what she can’t, and her decision to finally go after what she wanted made me cheer. I liked her quirks, and the knitting aspect just made me like her more. I can’t knit to save my life (believe me, I’ve tried) but I know enough about the craft and count several hard-core knitters amongst my friends, so reading about the different stitches and yarn and projects was like getting all those inside jokes about WoW (I have the BF and his vast store of MMPORG knowledge to thank for that). There were whole chapters where I couldn’t wipe the smirk off my face. I also have this weird desire to try knitting again.

Unraveled was thoughtful and sexy, two of the best things you could ask for in a romance. You don’t have to have read the first two books in the Woodlands series to understand what’s going on, but if you read this one first, you’re going to want to go back and read the other two. And that’s not a bad thing.

Copy of Unraveled provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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