Tadhg is coming off a bad break up with an abusive and controlling boyfriend. He decides to get out of L.A. and return home to friends and family in Seattle. Tadhg also decides that it is time to take a break from dating; after missing all the signs for the type of man Aston really was, Tadhg has lost confidence in his ability to make good judgments about potential partners.
Quinn MacDougall grew up on a farm with a large and loving family, but now he works as an architect in the city. Quinn’s ogre of a boss has been dangling a raise in front of him, and Quinn is hoping his time is finally coming to advance in the company. So he is a little worried when the firm hires a new architect, but Tadhg is so warm and friendly (not to mention gorgeous) that Quinn can’t help but like him. The fact that Tadhg is Deaf and Quinn has some rudimentary American Sign Language (ASL) means that he is one of the few in the office able to sign with Tadhg, and most of their coworkers barely make an effort to communicate with him at all.
When the men are assigned a high profile project together, it gives them a chance to spend more time with one another. The attraction is flaring between them, but the guys are trying to keep things professional since they are co-workers. But it is hard to deny the way they want each other, and eventually they give in to their intense feelings. However, working together isn’t the only thing potentially standing in their way. Tadhg’s ex-boyfriend is not taking the breakup well and continues to show up in Tadhg’s life unwelcome, making Tadhg anxious and uncomfortable. Quinn is also very close to his family, and while they are warm and friendly to Tadhg, they also expect Quinn to drop everything when they call — and he does, even when he has plans with Tadhg. But perhaps the biggest hurdle is that while Quinn knows ASL, as do many of his friends, his family does not, meaning communication between them and Tadhg is incredibly difficult. Given how important Quinn’s family is to him, Tadhg fears this will ultimately lead to a fracture in their relationship. Yet despite all the hurdles, Tadhg and Quinn have grown to love one another, and if they can figure out to make things work, they could have a lifetime of happiness together.
Embrace Me is the second book in Beck Grey’s Love in the Pacific Northwest series, but the book stands alone perfectly fine. Quinn is Jamie’s brother from Save Me, and Jamie and Ash appear here as minor background characters, but from a plot and character perspective, you can easily start here.
I loved Quinn and Tadhg together and Beck Grey does a wonderful job building the heat and intensity between them. There is such wonderful chemistry and an immediate connection that makes it clear these men are meant for one another. They try to keep things professional, but everyone who sees them can tell they are totally into one another and it is all they can do to keep their hands off each other. There is a bit of build here as Quinn and Tadhg try to hold off a long as possible, but ultimately, neither man can resist the other and they are passionate and sexy together. But there is also a nice playfulness and sense of fun between them, as well as a sweetness to how they interact.
I really enjoyed this couple a lot and was very caught up in their journey. Things build until they are all in with each other, but then the situation collapses (temporarily) as a whole lot of conflicts come their way. The blurb makes it sound like the Deaf versus hearing difference is the only issue between them, but that is just part of the bigger picture. As I noted above, they are also dealing with being co-workers, Tadhg’s ex’s creepy and upsetting behavior, and Quinn’s family’s constant need for Quinn’s help (and his constant willingness to drop everything to pitch in). There is also a big conflict due to a misunderstanding that takes too long to get cleared up, in my opinion. I think the set up here works for the most part, as Grey establishes the roots of most of these conflicts in the early part of the book, so it made sense how they played out later. But there were some cases where things seemed to suddenly become issues out of nowhere, and everything just explodes into chaos all of sudden. I also felt like the situation with Tadhg’s ex didn’t feel fully resolved. For all the build up, I was expecting more in how it all plays out, I guess. That said, Grey really brings on the emotion and I could just feel the pain these guys are experiencing as they work through their issues, so I think the story has a nice intensity that makes the ultimately sweet ending all the better.
Grey explains at the start of the story that they are certified in ASL and have friends in the Deaf community, though notes that they are hearing and not attempting to tell the Deaf story, which I appreciated. As a hearing reader with little familiarity with Deaf culture, my sense was that Tadhg’s deafness is handled well and incorporated nicely into the book. There are little details so that Tadhg doesn’t just feel deaf in name only. For example, we see Quinn turn in his chair to talk to Tadhg (since they are sitting next to each other and otherwise they couldn’t see each other sign). Or we learn how Tadhg’s office is only legally required to provide an interpreter for him when dealing with HR, so after that he is left on his own, with few co-workers making the effort to communicate with him. So I appreciated that Tadhg feels like a real fleshed out character with real experiences.
As a note, while the first book in this series had a suspense element with Ash being threatened by the cartel, this book is definitely just a straight contemporary. I didn’t miss the suspense, but I was a little surprised, as it is rare for a series to mix the genres. So I don’t think this is a negative in any way, but just be aware what to expect if you read the first story.
I really ended up enjoying this book and just loved Quinn and Tadhg. Grey really brings out the emotion in their relationship and I felt both the intensity of their bond, as well as the heartbreak when things were difficult between them. The side characters here are fun and we learn at the end who is coming up next, so I am very excited for more in this series.