Norah Waldon comes to Corbin’s Bend to start over after her husband of 10 years is killed in a freak accident. For the first time since college, she is on her own. She’s determined to fulfill her dream of owning her own bookstore, and for the first time in her life wants to live somewhere where she can be herself as she’s been hiding her desire for a DD relationship for far too long. Her late husband would have never understood. If she can get her bookstore off the ground, and maybe just maybe find an HOH who will take care of her the way she’s always wanted, everything will be perfect.
Enter Caine Landry the carpenter who is working on her bookstore. He brings out things in her she hasn’t felt in years. There’s just one problem. He doesn’t live in Corbin’s Bend and has no interest whatsoever in anything involving spanking. He had plenty of that growing up thanks to his grandfather and his belt. He can never do that to another person, no matter how he might feel about Norah.
The fourth and final season of Corbin’s Bend is off to a solid start with Staunton’s The Man She Needed. After spending a decade in a vanilla marriage, never telling her husband of her desire for a domestic discipline relationship, Norah has moved to Corbin’s Bend to start her life anew three years after being widowed. As a lover of books, I was excited for Norah as part of her new start was opening a bookstore in Corbin’s Bend and living in the apartment above it. I was also excited for the community because the new businesses that I recall from previous books have been almost exclusively restaurants and between the schools and book clubs in Corbin’s Bend and the plans that Norah had for her store, she was filling a hole in the community. Add to that Norah finding herself attracted to yet another vanilla man, Caine, and that spelled good things for the novel.
The Man She Needed offered a plethora of ideas, notions, and incidents that the psychology student in me gorged on. Rather than having Norah set off on her new life shortly after the death of her husband, Staunton allowed three years to pass. While we didn’t see those three years play out, this choice shows an understanding of the grieving process and how much time Norah would have needed to come to terms with it and overcome any related depression before she would have been “up to” the challenge such a move and new venture would pose for her, no matter how excited she was about it. Although we don’t learn the extent of abuse that Caine suffered until much later in the book, I enjoyed watching him and Norah dance around the dating issue once he made it clear to her that he was not interested in such a relationship. I liked how they worked on building a solid friendship instead even if they both seemed like emotional masochists as they fought their attraction for one another. The manner in which their relationship played out over the course of the book – friends, dating, breaking up, dating – felt right considering the nature of Caine’s issues. While at times it may have felt as though the author was dragging out the relationship to the inevitable ending, considering the characters’ personal landmines it wouldn’t have felt as authentic had the breakup and makeup been skipped.
As for Caine, his flashback scene was astoundingly realistic, from the auditory trigger, to how the memories played out, to his physical responses, all the way through to the difficulty Ben had in pulling him out of it and dealing with the aftermath. It was Caine’s weakened emotional state which enabled him to tell Ben about his past because the wounds were still raw and while painful for him to tell (and me to listen to), it was the best opportunity for him to be able to talk about it. That Ben insisted on Caine getting therapy and then working with him on the mechanics of spanking was fabulous. As Ben and Jonathon have held a special place in my heart from the beginning of the series, I was tickled pink at how much of a part they played in The Man She Needed, especially when Caine practiced his first real spanking on a live spankee. Staunton has penned another enjoyable installment in the Corbin’s Bend series and I’m looking forward to the next book already.