Erryn reviews ‘The Vows Box Set’ by Addison Albright. This book was released by the author on July 9, 2017, and is 476 pgs long. The audiobook version of this story was narrated by David Gilmore. It was released on December 19, 2017, and is 17 hrs and 26 mins long. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I love series, but find waiting for the next book hard. This is the whole set!
Join Henry, Sam, and an appealing supporting cast as they ride a roller coaster of emotions when their lives are derailed before coming back on track, leaving Nash as collateral damage in the novel, ‘Til Death Do Us Part, novelette From This Day Forward, and short story Okay, Then. Nash takes an unusual path to his own happily ever after in To Love and to Cherish.
Contains the stories:
‘Til Death Do Us Part
Henry and Sam are living the dream, but their worlds are shattered when Henry’s plane crashes and he’s presumed dead. But Henry survives undetected on a remote, small, and insignificant island. Will Sam and Henry’s love be able to survive, as well? When Henry is rescued, will Sam be able to put aside his new love when he reunites with Henry?
From This Day Forward
With their nightmare separation behind them, Henry and Sam are anxious to renew both the intensity of their former intimacies – now hampered by having a curious and still apprehensive child sharing their home – and their commitment to one another. Will they be able to move their love forward now that they are together again?
Sam and Henry’s first date/encounter is mentioned in flashback in ‘Til Death Do Us Part, but this short story fleshes it out. Relive the moment they first connect while on a research trip in Honiara in the Solomon Islands.
To Love and to Cherish
Jilted by his fiancé, Sam, just weeks before their wedding, Nash Marino’s outlook on life in general, and love in particular, is jaded. Will Nash find love again? Of course he will. Will he go about it in the usual way? Now that’s another story entirely. When Nash’s marriage-of-convenience scheme is muddied by notions of love after a memory reboot, will their plans go awry, or will Nash’s new outlook on life be just what the doctor ordered?
I’m going to review the entire box set as I listened to all 17 hours over the span of 3 days. Each of the stories, however, is distinct, and although you really should read all the stories before tackling To Love and to Cherish, you can dive in. From This Day Forward and Okay, Then are both short and sweet, combined into one audio to form ‘book 2’. If you choose to listen to all three, you’re in for a treat.
The opening scene is Sam and Nash at home, cooking dinner and stressing over their wedding which is supposed to take place in 2 weeks. Visitors portend bad news. Well, bad for one and earth-shattering for the other. Sam’s husband, Henry, has been found. Sam feels like he’s been sucker-punched and Nash is devastated.
The structure of this book can feel awkward until you get used to it. Each new chapter gives you an orientation of time and begins with a flashback. The first chapter is present-day – Henry is getting on the plane. As the plane crashes, assuming he is going to die, Henry thinks about his husband Sam and hopes the love of his life will move on and find love again.
I don’t want to give too much away because it is a wonderful story, deftly crafted, and emotional. Henry tells his story from the first-person point-of-view while Sam’s story is told from the third person. There are also glimpses of the point of view of other characters (Nash, a member of the US military), but it is handled so deftly, it flows really well. The fact Henry is told in the first person helps differentiate the narrative and emphasizes the immediacy and urgency of Henry’s situation versus the detached grief and depression Sam endures. Although Henry believes rescue is imminent, he is a realist. And while Sam holds out hope that Henry will be found alive, rationally he understands everyone died in the crash.
Both men, however, find a way to make the best of their situation. Henry has other survivors with him—two who can help him and one who will rely on him for everything.
Sam is surrounded by a large, wonderful family and the supportive faculty at the university where he and Henry teach.
As a reader, I was pulled into the story, often getting emotional. As each chapter progressed and significant time passed, I felt Henry’s desperation. I also felt Sam’s need to move on. And if Henry had died, I can see why Sam found himself attracted to the kind, sweet, and humorous Nash.
I tried to imagine how the book could have a true happy ending because I hadn’t read the summary for Book 3.
Anyway, Book 1 ended with a wonderful and happy ending. (For Sam, Henry, and all the survivors of the crash.) Each might have wondered if the other had agreed to get back together out of obligation. From This Day Forward provides the reassurance that the men were meant for each other and that Aiden will be the light of their lives.
Book 3 is Nash’s book. I empathized with his unfortunate situation of being second fiddle in Sam’s life, and being dumped two weeks before heading to the altar. Nash had every right to be hurt, but Henry’s reappearance was miraculous. I want to believe I would have handled it more maturely than Nash, but there is no way to know unless I find myself in that unusual situation.
I did, however, want Nash to have a happy ending. While dating Sam, he had been willing to accept that Henry would always be a presence in Sam’s life. Even if Sam and Nash had married, Nash knew Henry would always be treasured.
Nash’s story takes place four months after Henry’s return. He’s been living on his best friend Harley’s couch, but he knows Oliver – Harley’s boyfriend – would really prefer privacy. So Nash puts out the word that he’s looking to change his living arrangements. Life in Seattle, even for a surgical nurse, is expensive.
Nash is friendly with all of his co-workers except Dr. Miles Burlingham even though he has never had a personal issue with the orthopedic surgeon. An interesting series of events bring the two men into an unique situation – each has something the other needs and each has something he can only get from the other. Add in a meddling grandfather, two crazy friends, and an equally disillusioned nursing co-worker, and it is understandable Nash agrees to the unique proposal.
One seagull, a concussion, and a reboot later, Nash unfortunately ends up with partial amnesia’. For whatever reason, he asks Miles not to enlighten him and to let him rediscover the missing memories in his own time. Interesting for a plot, but I don’t think very realistic. Who wouldn’t want the blanks filled in? And with Nash always veering to the worst-case scenario every time, it’s a recipe for disaster. But Nash deserved a happy ending and I was thrilled he got one.
The book was entirely from Nash’s point-of-view, so sometimes I struggled with Miles’ thought processes and motivations. In the end, though, I found myself loving him.
And, thank goodness, Nash matured throughout the series. The clingy and demanding man who didn’t handle Henry’s reappearance very well, transformed into a wonderful man, worthy of sharing his life with Miles.
I enjoyed David Gilmore’s narration. There were quite a few characters and he differentiated them well. He is new to me, but I wouldn’t hesitate to listen to him again. And, of course, I can’t wait for the next Addison Albright book. This was a great series and I’m so glad I was able to listen to them all at once.
9/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
IAddison Albright lives in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay (sometimes erotic) romance. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, french fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.