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Made for Us by Samantha Chase
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Made for Us by Samantha Chase is a 2015 Sourcebooks Casablana publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first book in a new series which focuses around the Shaughnessy Brothers. First up , is Aiden, the “go to” guy in the large family of overachievers.

In the years since the death of his mother, Aiden, who took her passing particularly hard, has been the rock of the family. He's built a successful career for himself, helps his father and all his highly successful siblings, but has little time left over to work on his own life. Over the years he has become controlling, staid, an unbending perfectionist, and has garnered a reputation for being difficult to work with.

Enter, Zoe, an interior designer, a transplant from Arizona, grieving the loss of her mother, looking to make a fresh start in North Carolina. When she is told to drop everything and her current client list in order to correct some huge mistakes for Aiden Shaughnessy, she gets a first hand, face to face , introduction to the famous 'dictator'.

I'm not sure where to start here to be honest. Aiden is a very unique character, not unlike a lot of workaholic, highly successful men, who are used to being in charge, barking orders and having them instantly obeyed. But, truthfully, Aiden isn't really the total jerk he appears to be at first glance. He has some difficult inner demons to exorcise. It occurred to me while I was reading this book that Aiden seems to have some kind of personality disorder. It bothered me to the point that I decided to do an internet search and lo and behold I discovered Aiden's symptoms matched, almost to the letter, the co-dependent personality.

He was afraid to let himself be who was was, he expected himself to be perfect, he appeared rigid and controlled, he was afraid to let other people be themselves and let things happen naturally, he thought he knew best how things should turn out or how people should behave. But, the most startling comparison was this:

“Control helps co-dependents feel safe and secure. Everyone needs some control over events in their life, but for codependents, control limits their ability to take risk and share feelings. They need to control those close to them, because they need them to behave in a certain way to feel okay. Caretaking can be used to control or manipulate people. They can be bossy, and tell others what they should or shouldn't do.”

So, while Aiden is not the most likable person in the world, it's obvious he needs specialized help and frankly poor Zoe was not equipped to handle him. Zoe herself is dealing with a lot and Aiden's dark and brooding mood swings are mystifying to her, although Aiden's family is used to it, which is a huge part of the problem. As close as the family appears to outsiders, and as much as they would like to believe they are close knit, they are actually dysfunctional. The youngest child, seventeen year old Darcy, is just as much a victim to Aiden's heavy handed control freak tendencies as Zoe is. Then there is the patriarch of the family who enables Aiden and allows him to rule the family, because it's just easier that way. The other brothers have also found Aiden's leadership to be a relief since it has left them unencumbered with the burden of helping with their father and younger sister, freeing them to pursue their own paths in life.

With all this going on, Zoe's character gets swallowed up and her own problems are shoved under the rug. Her personality is so tightly woven into Aiden's situation, I felt like I never got to know her and it seemed unfair that her needs fell to the wayside in order to make room for Aiden's. I liked her well enough, but I felt she was out of her element at times and could have done with some help, and not just people telling her “that's just how Aiden is”.

I do think that if a serious issue is brought into focus in a novel, it might be a good idea to put a name with the face, so that readers will not presume this behavior is typical or normal. I love romance novels and their ability to bring difficult and misunderstood issues into focus, and of course I am a huge believer in the power of love and it's ability to bridge any gap, to heal any wound, to bring forgiveness, hope, and faith to even the most hopeless of situations. But, sometimes love must rely on common sense and that means seeking help from outside sources if need be. In my research I learned that even trained professionals have nearly thrown in the towel trying to treat the co-dependent personality. So, while love may conquer all, it might need a little help winning the battle.

After having said all that, I don't want you to think I disliked the story, because I DID like it! It's an unconventional love story and I love seeing very difficult and trying personalities come to their senses before it's too late. It was good to see Zoe finally get a grand gesture and have a little good come her way for a change.

The best part is that Aiden is not the only one who gets a wake up call, as his entire family will play a role in helping him understand he needs to face the inevitable changes that come in life and will help him see where he needs to make improvements. They all owe Aiden for one thing or another so, it was fun to see them come together to help him for a change.

Another charming aspect of the story was the mild paranormal undercurrent that cropped up from time to time that added a pinch of sentimentality and is a touching way to guide Aiden into understanding it's okay to be with Zoe and their relationship is meant to be.

There is a wonderful and very romantic ending and a happy ever after ,which is why we read these books and it makes it worth all the drama and tears and frustrations. This is a solid start to the series and I'm curious to see whose turn it will be next ( )
  gpangel | Aug 18, 2015 |
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"Can't make time for love? The Shaughnessy brothers have spent the years since their mother's untimely death taking care of one another and trying to make their father proud. Oldest son Aidan is hardworking, handsome, successful and still single. Sure, he'd like to have his own family someday, but who has the time? She'll show him how to find it. Zoe Dalton, a stunning designer Aidan meets on one of his construction jobs, has the beauty and heart to make Aidan realize how much he's been missing. But it's not easy to break down walls you've spent years building up. Now there's a major storm bearing down on the North Carolina coast, and it could be catalyst enough to force Aidan and Zoe into some major decision of the heart."--Back cover.… (more)

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