Review: The SEAL’s Secret Heirs by Kat Cantrell

the seal's secret heirsTitle: The SEAL’s Secret Heirs

Author: Kat Cantrell

Mills & Boon imprint: Desire

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Social worker Grace Haines

The hero: Navy SEAL/Rancher Kyle Wade

The blurb: Returning to Royal, Texas, is an emotional minefield for Navy SEAL Kyle Wade. He never felt suited to his rich family’s ranching life. But is he suited for fatherhood? He’s about to find out—because he’s now the guardian to twins. Not only that—his high school sweetheart is the babies’ caseworker!

Grace Haines wants what’s best for Kyle’s kids—even if that means standing in his way. But their chemistry is as explosive as it was years ago, and it might just be time to give this military man a second chance…

Standalone or series: Part of The Texas Cattleman’s Club: Lies And Lullabies series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: You know when you read a book, close the cover, and then just scratch your head and think to yourself, WTF did I just read? That was this type of book for me.

So Kyle and Grace were teenage lovers. Grace made him wait until they’d been together for a year and she’d turned 18 until she had sex with him. It was amazing, but then she started to feel insecure or something because he never came out and said the words, “I love you,” so her 18 year old brain decided the best course of action would be to pretend she’s getting it on with his twin brother, Liam. When Kyle catches Liam groping Grace in his bedroom, he’s so heartbroken that he decides to get out of dodge and join the navy, where he becomes a SEAL. Grace thinks he left because he really didn’t love her and didn’t care that she’d apparently moved on to Liam.

Grace spends the next ten years trying to find a man who matches up to Kyle, but can’t, so for the last three years she’s been a Professional Single Woman (yes, in capitals). She’s now a social worker. Kyle has manwhored his way with anything in a skirt for ten years, but he still can’t forget Grace, who’s ruined him for all women (but not enough, it seems, for him to stop having sex with anything in a skirt).

It’s ten years later, and Kyle has been honourably discharged from the Navy because he was badly injured on duty and lost a teammate. So he heads back to Royal, where twin brother Liam is running the family ranch. It turns out that ole Liam is none too pleased to see Kyle, because he’s left lots of messages which Kyle didn’t answer… because he was overseas on a mission. As a Navy SEAL. In the military. And he didn’t get the messages.

Liam smartly informs Kyle that he has twin baby daughters with a woman he spent a long weekend with almost a year ago. Which means that the twins can’t be more than two months old (assuming the mother went to term). The mother died during childbirth, so Liam and the nanny he hired when he couldn’t reach Kyle, Hadley, have been raising the girls. But Hadley is not just the nanny anymore… she’s also Liam’s wife! He moves fast, given that he only hired her no more than three months previously (I guess he might have already known her, but Kyle didn’t, so who knows). Not only that, but Liam and Hadley have already applied to formally adopt the twins. I don’t know how it works in the US, but I’m pretty sure it would take more than a couple of months before adoption would be considered. Given that Liam knows Kyle is a SEAL, surely there would have been some consideration there.

But we’re all in it for the romance, so let’s go there. Except I wish I hadn’t 😦 I found Kyle and Grace’s relationship to be completely juvenile. Instead of talking like two adults (and we all know Grace is no longer a teenager, because the author referenced Grace being a grown woman or having grown woman parts on more than one occasion), they played stupid games. For example: when Kyle asks Grace to consider a relationship again, she understandably asks for a bit of time to think about it. Given they haven’t seen each other in ten years and are still getting to know each other as they are now, that doesn’t seem unreasonable. However, Kyle decides that the best way to honour her request is to – wait for it – flirt with another woman in front of her. Yep. If Grace doesn’t want him flirting with the ranch’s sales manager, who’s clearly got the hots for him, then she best close the space. If I was Grace, I’d have given him a whole lot of space after that.

Here’s what else didn’t work for me:

*Kyle’s eyes were described about half a dozen times as being ‘diamond-hard’. Diamond hard?

*Everyone’s puzzling reaction to Kyle having left to be a SEAL. Especially Liam’s. They all carry on as though he ran away in a flight of fancy. No, he left because the woman he loved and his twin brother betrayed him (okay, so they didn’t, but he didn’t know that).

*The incredibly cold and antagonistic relationship between Kyle and Liam, which was never fully explained.

*Liam and Grace both continually bringing up the fact that Kyle didn’t come straight home when the twins were born. That’s because he didn’t freaking know about them. What part of that was hard to understand? He. Didn’t. Know.

*Grace is the case worker who is monitoring Kyle’s ability to take care of the twins. She tells him she’ll be impartial, that he needs to get a job even though he has enough money that he never has to work again. So he takes over the cattle side of the ranch. Grace does one home visit – one – in which she sees Kyle holding the twins, and all of a sudden she’s decided he’s capable of raising the girls on his own and she won’t contest him being awarded full custody. I thought she was being impartial? I’m pretty sure that it takes more than one visit to assess that.

*When Kyle finds out from Grace that she never slept with Liam and it was only a ploy to get him to tell her his true feelings for her (because just asking him apparently never occurred to her), she’s dismissive of it. As is Liam, when Kyle brings it up. Liam’s all like, oh, that was only a joke. Ancient history. Are you serious, bitch? Kyle spent TEN YEARS nursing a broken heart and it drove him into the military because he couldn’t deal with it. Your twin brother thinks you betrayed him, and you just laugh it off? No.

*I’m a huge romantic, but I found the proposal scene completely cheesy and completely out of character for Kyle. But that could just be me, because I do not like public proposals.

I think it’s kinda obvious, but this book really didn’t work for me. I’m really disappointed, because I loved the previous book I read by this author. The title also seems a bit redundant, because the ‘heirs’ are only a secret for the first five pages of the book…