Saturday, December 20, 2014

Review: Underestimated Christmas by Jettie Woodruff

For all of those who are wondering what Morgan and Drew are up to these days, this is for you. You followed Morgan through her life of pain and then happiness in Underestimated. You followed Drew through Underestimated Too with his own trials and tribulations where he too found happiness in the end.
Now read along with An Underestimated Christmas to find out if the happiness is still going strong. We pick up the story with Nicholas being nearly five and Wes being three. How do Morgan and Drew handle everyday life with a family? Will this Christmas be the best one ever, or the last?
Never underestimate the ability to lose it all.

5 Phenomenal Stars!

Review by Lisa Kane 

I am huge fan of this series. Drew Kelly, in spite of his many flaws, fascinates and captivates me, even during those times when his actions repulse me. There have been many times that I have wanted to hate him. Those times never last. I have given up fighting my attraction for him. I can never break free from his spell. 

If Underestimated and Underestimated Too were primarily about Drew's physical dominance over Morgan, UC is centered on the emotional warfare these two conduct towards each other. 

They have been married many years now, and have two kids; Nicholas is 5 and Weston, forever to be called "Tadpole" due to his love of water, is 3. Two toddlers would be a challenge for any couple, but Nicholas is "different" than other kids his age. Morgan picks up on this and wants to find out exactly what is going on with him, but Drew is living in the land of denial and won't admit that he may need help, help that he isn't getting. Drew's whole personality is so embedded in being a controlling Alpha, that for him, his child can't be different; he is highly intelligent and maybe just a little too high strung. This ongoing battle creates conflict between Morgan and Drew.

There is no denying that Drew takes his responsibilities as head of the household seriously. But having sold his jewelry stores a few years ago may have reduced his stress level but he needs more than his family to occupy his time. So he goes behind Morgan's back and purchases a store from his former assistant, Celeste in LA. Now of course, if he has a business there, he must live there, and so must his family. Part of the problem they had in the past was due to Drew's constant travel for business, so uprooting his family and moving them to go to LA with him, is really for their own good-right? And there is no need to get Morgan upset about it in advance, she'll give in and agree to the move; she may not like it or be happy about it, but she always gives in to Drew, why should this time be any different?

Can the tension be any greater between them because of his latest escapade? But in spite of her resentment at having to move to California, Morgan settles in to a life of lunches with new girlfriends, high fashion clothing, and a superficial lifestyle. Is she leaving Drew behind?

The greatest conflict in this story has to do with Morgan's past. She has never moved on from the neglect and abuse from her childhood. She may be speaking to her mother, but has she really forgiven her? I'm not sure how she even looks at this woman or has her in her life. In a series of flashbacks, Morgan's childhood memories of hunger and neglect are heart breaking. Not to mention this woman "sold' "  her to Drew. Her mother started a life of her own, married, got her act together and had another child. But she never looked back and Morgan will forever be scarred because of her. 

"My mother was a drunk slut and had two children that neither of them belonged to her husband. Actually, I took care of an infant baby when I was too young to take care of myself." 

It's obvious that Morgan loves Drew, almost to the point of obsession. This man physically and mentally abused her for years. Her sexuality was shaped by Drew's fetishes and she craves physical pain from sex because of his actions. There are so many issues from those years, so much baggage that Morgan can barely resolve the conflict that is inside of her -between her love for Drew and his need to control. These battles will cause Morgan to fall and hit rock bottom.

"You don't do this, Drew. Don't you think we've been through enough? Maybe it's time we stop trying. What's so wrong with that? People do it every day. Just because we don't live together doesn't mean we can't be good parents."

How Drew reacts to Morgan's issues redeems this man forever in my eyes. I worried that he would backslide into being her physical abuser again. If I give away one spoiler let this be the one. In spite of just about every trigger he is confronted with, he DOES not resort to violence. Through a ton of hard work and suffering, he has changed. He might always be a controlling asshole, but the old Drew that intentionally hurt Morgan is gone. He cherishes her and his boys and even if he had to give them up for their own good, he would. Morgan is the one who puts their marriage and family at risk. But how can anyone blame her, given her years of abuse? She gets a free pass in my book. 

"You seem to forget I was abused by a man of great power for a good many years. My life sucked and then I made yours suck. I'm sorry. I bet your mother grew up in a bad situation, too. We all come from somewhere, Morgan. And if you're not careful, you're going to waste away a lonely old woman. You'll die being an angry, bitter, resentful, tortured soul, and I'm not going to stay around and watch it. I'm going to raise two happy, healthy boys, and I want nothing more than to do that with you, but not like this."

If you are looking for a Christmas story, with tons of caroling and hot cocoa and songs around the tree, this book isn't for you. It might take place during the holidays, but it is the story of two battle weary souls, who love each other with all their hearts. How much can two people take until they say "enough"? Can a relationship that started with such a violent beginning ever really succeed?

I was supposed to be the strong one, the one that held it all together and the only thing I could do is continue to watch it crumble. Did I do this to her? Our foundation was started on quicksand. Maybe we never had a chance in hell. Maybe we brought two boys into the world only to mess them up, too. I didn't want that. They deserved better than that.

 Drew and Morgan are deliciously flawed and damaged but they are not broken. They will never have a happily ever after, they are more the happy for now kind of couple. They will never be perfect, but they complete each other. There are plenty of books with couples riding off into the sunset all set to live their beautiful lives. But if you want to break away from the usual, then this is the series for you. I will follow Drew and Morgan through every story Jettie Woodruff decides to write for them, they are etched in my reader's soul and will forever remain two of my favorite characters.   

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