Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
It’s always surprising that when you read a book you find something that speaks to you. Two different readers can read the same text and find different truths within the same book. That’s the exciting part of reading; it’s a place where the reader and author meet and create meaning together. The last book of Corinne Michaels’s series, The Arrowood Brothers, Stay for Me is a reminder of this fact. I could focus on the fact that, for me, Jacob is my favorite. I could note that, for me, this book has a heroine who feels more broken than the hero unlike the other three books in Michaels’s series. I could discuss the beautifully wrought journey that Michaels has created for Brenna and Jacob. But what I think this book does is illustrate the power of the matriarchy, the profound effect that a mother can inspire in her children (for this series, her sons) that, with the right love, her effect can blossom. As I’ve read all four books in this series, that is the final thought I have as I think about Stay for Me.
In this final book, we meet Brenna, a widow who is left to raise her two children along while starting anew in a new town. She has settled in Sugarloaf where her in-laws live, and it is there where she meets Jacob Arrowood, the film star. Brenna’s son, Sebastian, is a devoted fan of Jacob’s, and Jacob’s sister-in-law, Ellie, makes the suggestion that Jacob reach out to Sebastian to help him through the family’s difficult time. From their first meeting, Brenna and Jacob are drawn to each other; they are electric. However, Jacob is intent on leaving Sugarloaf at the end of his six-month stint, complicating any relationship with Brenna. Unfortunately, they are drawn to each other and they enter an agreement to keep it casual until he leaves. That is their only option. Or is it?
What I have adored the most in this series, and by extension, Stay for Me, is the Arrowood Brother’s connection to their mother and each other. I know I”m supposed to love the romances (and I do). Most significant to me has been the way in which their mother saw what the guys call their “fatal flaw” and crafted a life message for each of them. That is powerful as a tool to mitigate the trauma of their father, the patriarchy of sorts. In a way, it’s a nod from Michaels as to the power of motherly love as a way to heal the hurts of the past. The vehicle to that realization is the love of a soulmate. There is so much healing love through the specter of womanhood in this book that it, quite frankly, ameliorates the overbearing masculinity of their father’s influence. You cannot get more pro-woman than The Arrowood Brothers series, and yet, Michaels brilliantly packages it up in stories that tug at your heart-strings.
With Stay for Me, Corinne Michaels pours in emotional blow after emotional blow but she couches it with a deep and abiding love between Jacob and Brenna. I love that Jacob’s epiphany comes sooner than his brothers’. I love that Brenna’s fear is the cause of their potential undoing because it allows for Jacob to be truly heroic in a way that maybe only his brother Sean is. And I love that Corinne Michaels writes their story (and the first three in the series) in a way that invests us in them. You feel and believe that this group of brothers could be your friends.
If you haven’t yet read Corinne Michaels’s The Arrowood Brothers series, run and grab them. This last book, Stay for Me, was my favorite of the four because the hope is heavy with this one, and the way that Jacob loves Brenna is the love of a lifetime.
In love and romance,