The Surprise, Alice Ward

The Surprise by [Ward, Alice]

Alice Ward has a habit of hooking you in and then taking you on a roller coaster of feels.  This one is no different, except you don't get crushing lows to accompany the exhilarating highs.  Instead, you have two people who are absolutely meant to be, watch them have a misunderstanding, see them reunite in the craziest way, and then attempt to work out a future while catching up on all that transpired individually while they were apart.  So, there's the vague synopsis of what happened.  On to why that combination of things worked so well here...

Scarlett is the sweetest woman and has the patience of a saint.  She is a labor and delivery nurse at a big hospital in New York and deals with death, trauma, divas, snippy doctors, and everything in between.  She takes most things in stride and by seeing everything she thinks we get to know her as a real person.  Not just an angel nurse but as a woman who struggles with keeping her temper in check but knowing that the women in the beds are each individuals and all there trusting her and the team of doctors to keep them and their soon-to-be-born babies safe.  Her thoughts are humorous and real.  Watching her do her job competently while trying her best to accommodate difficult women and then hop up on a bed and stay on the bed all throughout the emergency surgery makes her a hero and completely seals her role as a kick ass woman that I admire.  She is also incredibly passionate and needs just the right person to give her the freedom to let the more sultry side of her come out.

Langston is that person.  He's signed up for a tour away from the USA and is finding himself increasingly antsy.  Lonely too, but that's not something he's willing to dwell on for more than a moment.  The superficiality of his peers is wearing on him and he makes an escape to a jazz bar completely by accident only to meet with his future in a pair of blue eyes.  He wasn't expecting to have a hook up but he can't deny that Scarlett wakes something up in him that he wasn't aware existed.  They bond so deeply despite knowing absolutely nothing about one another that he tries to make his intentions known.  Too bad Scarlett sleeps like the dead.

With misunderstandings and missed communication they find themselves separated from one another.  Scarlett also finds out she's pregnant.  When a series of seemingly unrelated events combine to bring them back together it makes for an absolutely amusing reunion.  Scarlett's reveals and the way she says, "Surprise!" are so cute and totally funny.  Langston takes most everything in stride and seeing how they come together and bond over the surprise is tender, sweet, and full of affection that I want to melt.  He's so understanding and in awe of the situation in which he finds himself.  Scarlett is panicking but also summoning her inner strength to make sure that Langston doesn't feel obligated or trapped even if he was blindsided by their circumstances.  His assurances and determination to help make me love him for Scarlett.

So all that stuff is awesome and made for a great story, but you know what really made the book for me?  The absolutely real stuff with babies.  Agony of breastfeeding at the outset, tar poop, encouraging and praising farts, body insecurities, tender moments, insta-love, feeling overwhelmed but the happiest you've ever been in your life, and the incredible accuracy of pee fountains.  Now, not everyone experiences all these things when having kids, but from my own experience I was so glad that Alice didn't "pretty it up" just to make the book sweet.  I mean, let's be honest here, baby's first poop is literally just like tar.  And breastfeeding?  While wonderful once you get the hang of things, it's hell when you start.  From nipple agony to uterine contractions it's a hell of an adjustment.  Life is messy and not just emotionally.

But back to Scarlett and Langston as the MC's.  They've got so much potential together and have overcome amazing odds to get to where they are individually, especially Scarlett.  Her opening up about her past was organic and honest.  By sharing her own "Tree of Life" situation Langston could learn to truly appreciate her as a partner for him.  She deserved so much love and compassion and stability and he was willing to give it to her.  Overall this was the sweetest story and I seriously could not put it down until I was done.

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 The Surprise, Alice Ward

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