Review: Marine for Hire by Tawna Fenske

(Cover image and summary courtesy of Goodreads.)

Sam Kercher is every inch a wickedly hot Marine. Tall. Sexy. Lethal. When his best friends call in a favor, Sam is forced to face an entirely new line of duty—playing nanny for their newly divorced sister and her squirming seven-month-old twin boys. If Sam can dissemble an M16 in his sleep, diaper duty should be a cakewalk…right?

Unfortunately, Operation Nanny isn’t quite that simple. Sheridan has sworn off overbearing military men, so Sam must protect her from her dirtbag ex without revealing just how much he has in common with her brothers. Or that he’s been ordered not to touch her. Ever. Problem is, Sheri’s one hell of a gorgeous woman, capable of making this hard-bodied marine even harder. And Sam wants her bad.

Protect the girl. Care for the babies. Hide his identity. And keep his hands off. But even the most disciplined Marine has weaknesses…and Sheridan is one Sam might not be able to resist.

***

Tawna dedicated this book to her stepchildren after saying she thought she’d never write a novel with children in it. Well, I never thought I’d read one.

See, I have a certain…aversion…to small children — the messes and the smells and the noises – so the very last thing I’d ever want to do is read a romance novel that contains all of those things. I have to imagine that screeching toddlers are relatively large cock blocks/clam jams (lul) in real life, and a romance revolving around children has a similar effect on me. But I love Tawna’s online presence, so I thought I’d give it a go (plus it was on sale, which always helps).

I really enjoyed it. Imagining a big, burly Marine changing diapers and teaching 7-month-old twins to do military push ups just tickled me pink. The quirky aspects of the novel required me to suspend my disbelief quite a bit (at one point Sam, who forgot to bring extra diapers and wipes on an outing, uses his shirt as a diaper after swishing the baby’s butt around in a local pond… no shit, pun totally intended) but I found myself snickering throughout, even if it wasn’t full-out guffaws. Sam is the sweetest leading man I’ve seen in awhile – even though he’s been through some traumatic experiences as a military man, he’s still pretty well balanced and vulnerable. That is so refreshing to me. Likewise, the portrayal of a new mother who’s harried but unapologetically sexual and loving to her children hit all the right notes (and she has stretch marks. YESSSS).

There were only a couple things that bugged me, and they were minor. There’s still that paternalistic, “I know what’s best for you/It’s OK that I lied to you because I did it to protect you” aspect of the book that made me really uncomfortable. I really wish we could move past that trope in romance novels. It puts the onus on the woman to put up with any behavior if it’s supposedly done in her best interest… uh, no. How about you just don’t be an asshole, sir. I want to clarify, though, that I don’t take issue with the end results of the decision or the sentiment behind it. The issue was relatively minor and definitely not a deal breaker for Mac or Sam being sexy, but I wish the author didn’t spend so much time trying to justify it.

Secondly, Sam has a giant tattoo on his back that easily gives him away as a Marine. Sheridan bumps uglies with him, which naturally requires them to be somewhat naked, at least a half dozen times before the big reveal. She never noticed. I could see this, maybe, if they always had sex with their shirts on and in the dark. Nope. Sam walks around without a shirt quite a bit. He never once turned around? She never once angled her head to see what that big black mark was? Oddly, that was where my suspension ran out, not Sam rinsing a baby’s butt in dirty pond water. Tawna could’ve easily just made the tattoo smaller, in a less conspicuous place, or left it out entirely.

Still, it’s a quick, fun and heartfelt read, so I feel confident recommending it even though it just further cemented my decision to never, ever have children.

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