Only for Her picks up where Only for Him left off, so if you haven’t read the first book, you certainly shouldn’t be reading this review.
Emma was devastated when she learned of Grayson’s death. Left with his child to raise, a child Grayson never even knew about, her life has been far from easy. She’s stripping and waitressing and doing everything she can to pay the bills, and an education at anything but the local community college is a distant and abandoned dream. It’s been three years, and Emma’s simply trying to move on, get through life, and provide the best future she can for her daughter. But it’s not easy, and the constant meddling of her family, while usually helpful, is often a hindrance.
While I do miss the more innocent Emma that we met in the first book, the goodness in her hasn’t been lost. She’s hardened in very necessary ways in order to provide for her daughter, but while that innocence has vanished, she’s still sweet and loving. I would say that she’s matured without entirely losing her sense of self.
Grayson, of course, is not dead. While Cristin Harber likes to throw ugly cliffhangers to torture me (yes, they are directed at me personally, i am sure), she’s not quite that mean. But Grayson is back from the war, not dead as it was first believed, and he wants nothing more than to reconnect with Emma. The Emma he finds, though, is not the girl he left behind, not the woman he was so sure she would be. She never left for school, never found that better life he was so sure she would have, and has remained in their small town, struggling as a single mother. He’s shocked to find her there, but he’s entirely bowled over when he finds out why.
As a novella, this piece of the story is short, and that’s probably a good thing, considering how badly I handle angst. And there’s certainly plenty of that to go around in this volume. Grayson’s guilt is overwhelming, knowing he not only broke Emma’s heart but also left her to raise their child alone, prevented her from realizing the dreams he was so sure she would experience, abandoned her in the worst way. She’s reluctant to let him in, but her feelings for him have never changed, and the relief at simply knowing he’s alive is enough for her to give him the in he needs.
Grayson’s reaction to Cally is sweet and heartbreaking and sad and perfect. He clearly feels all the mixed-up emotions that would come with that kind of slap-in-the-face, and they bled right off the pages. But as much as I may have wanted to punch him for all that Emma has gone through, I had to admire the way he stepped up and immediately resolved to do everything he could not just to win Emma back but maybe to make up a little for everything she had missed. Their connection is undeniable, and while some authors might have drawn things out longer, Emma and Grayson’s story is bigger than that.
Unfortunately, novellas being what they are, I have to wait for the next book to see Gray’s reaction when he comes face to face with Cally, not to mention what happens when Ryan finds out the best friend who knocked up his sister and left is back in town…