The final book in the Something in the Way series, a love saga.
Manning and I have what happily-ever-after is made of . . .
A home he built us on the unshakeable foundation we fought for.
A life of laughter carved out of heartache and betrayal.
A love story to stand the test of time.
But between a trust that can’t be broken, joy that can’t be bridled, and passion that would scorch the sun, the empty spaces are becoming more and more difficult to ignore . . .
Fears that keep Manning up at night as he slips from our bed.
Our complicated relationship with a man he respects and one I don't know how to forgive.
And a sprawling, beautiful home with one small room I'm afraid I'll never be able to fill.
Manning and I have what happily-ever-after is made of . . .
But I'll beg the heavens for just one thing more.
If you are reading this and haven't read the other books, stop now. This is the 4th in the series and, by definition, there are going to be spoilers of the books before this one...as you can't review the 4th book without giving away some things that got them here. Heck, the title is a bit of a spoiler. So, if you haven't read all of them, off you go. Stop reading.
Full disclosure. I was happy with the ending of Move the Stars. I liked where it ended, on the precipice of Manning and Lake finally getting their stars aligned and starting their happily ever after. There was a certain joy to ending at their beginning and I was wondering if this book was going to measure up to the perfection of the others, particularly of the 3rd, Move the Stars, which was my favorite book for all of 2017.
With Jessica Hawkins writing it, I was worried for nothing. She started at the end of perfection and gave us even more of exactly that, perfection.
This book is exactly as the title implies. It is their story. While there are other characters, and a lovely subplot for some characters who also deserved their story told, the bulk of this book is Lake and Manning. After 3 books of angst, of reading scenes about them being apart and DYING for Lake and Manning to be together, there was some sheer joy in spending time with them, in being able to be a part of their future.
In some ways, this is an extended epilogue. Although I hesitate to say that, as that almost sounds like a criticism. It's not. But it is the "what comes after" and it is the resolution to the angst. Was it nice to see them work it out, and to finally be together? Yes, it was. In fact, more than I was expecting. I knew I was going to enjoy this book, and the minute it appeared on my Kindle I started reading, but how much I loved it actually surprised me. You look to Jessica Hawkins for the tear jerking angst, for the forbidden. This book shows a different side to her as an author, and it shows that she can write a happy couple just as amazingly as she writes one that is struggling to find that happy.
But at least for me, while this book is the ending to the story that was told in the first 3 books, it is almost a standalone. Yes, there are characters and relationships from the first books, but what works so well is this is a beautiful story of people who are in love, and who stay that way. Of a couple who are committed to being a couple, and to figuring out the things that life throws at them, as a couple.
Are there challenges? Yes. Of course there are. But there is also a joy in watching Lake and Manning be exactly that...Lake and Manning. Not Lake and the man married to her sister, or Lake and the man who is too old for her, or Lake and the man her father wants her to avoid...just Lake and Manning.
This book, while it really could be read as a standalone, is, more than anything, an absolute gift to readers who have been there from the beginning of their story. And, it is their story now that there is no longer something getting in the way of their happiness.
I couldn't recommend it more.
I can't say enough how much I enjoy these characters. There's something about Lake and Manning that I just didn't want to leave so I'm glad that Jessica Hawkins gave us this book. There's just something so very special about these two. That feeling hasn't left me in four books...and I'm not going to lie, I still want more. Perhaps she can start a blog for these characters; I know I'd follow it.
This is a beautiful glimpse into the future these characters face. It isn't easy-and I'm not going to lie. I had to stop for a minute more than once and cry because the story hit close to home in more ways than one. But I couldn't STOP reading. The journey these two have is unique and beautiful. I absolutely loved it.
Jessica Hawkins is a beautiful writer. There's simply no other way to put it. She just draws you in from the first page and you can't let go and I wouldn't have it any other way. This story was so well written, so well paced. I didn't want it to end-and I'm still hoping it's not completely done. Did you catch that, Ms. Hawkins? LOL give us more Lake and Manning!
Again, this book is NOT a standalone. Read the others. Then come back and enjoy the pure perfection of Lake+Manning. It's the perfect story of these two. I loved it and absolutely recommend it.
I found Manning waiting at the base of the porch steps with Blue, looking every inch a man in jeans and fishing boots, the porch swing’s floral printed cushions under one arm. Any fears I had vanished. This was about the man I loved, a man both tough and sensitive, determined but attentive.
“Why are you wearing galoshes?” I asked, taking his outstretched hand. I started for his truck but he pulled me around the side of the house, toward the back. “And what’re the cushions for?”
“Guess,” he said.
Manning and I had explored the woods behind the house plenty of times. Usually we went back there for two reasons—to walk Blue, or to go on the lake. Neither of those seemed like great after-dark activities. “I’m stumped,” I said.
As we crossed from our backyard into the woods, Manning kept me close with an arm around my shoulders. Blue darted through the trees but always sprinted back when we whistled for her. Perhaps if I’d been anywhere except the place I called home, I might’ve been spooked by the cover of darkness. By the rustling bushes, or the haunting hoots and flapping of wings echoing around us. Instead, I snuggled into the side of the man I knew would kill to protect me or die trying.
The closer we got to the edge of the forest, the more convinced I was that Manning had lost his mind and decided to recreate the night we’d snuck out of camp, gone for a drive, and wound up in the water.
The woods spit us out into a clearing that opened up to a tiny lake we’d come to know well. It was shallow, mostly off the map, and small enough for us to drift aimlessly. Manning kept the first dinghy he’d ever made there, tied to a stake in the ground. He’d built other boats—some he’d sold, and with help, a larger one we kept at one of Big Bear Lake’s marinas—but we had this little slice of heaven all to ourselves most of the time.
“We’re going on the lake?” I asked.
“Bingo,” he replied. “Go on. Climb on over the starboard side.” Manning winked before he added, “And into my lap.” It was the same thing he’d said to me my first night at the house in Big Bear.
No matter how endearing his invitation, I stayed where I was. We’d made love in this boat. I’d laughed until my sides had ached watching Manning try and fail to catch a fish with his hands. We’d drifted around in it on hot afternoons eating orange slices as the sun had set. But we’d certainly never taken it out at night.
Blue whined, probably sensing she was about to get left behind. “Blue and I are going to need a bit of an explanation before we proceed,” I said.
He squatted to untie the boat, and I heard the smile in his voice. “What’s wrong? Don’t trust me?”
“To steer this thing in the dark?”
“The stars are out.” He gestured up at the sky. “They’ll guide us, Birdy.”
“Actually,” I said, hands on my hips, “it’s a crescent moon and particularly dark tonight.”
“I know,” he said. “I wish I could say I planned it that way, but we just got lucky.”
Warily, I climbed over the starboard side and set up both cushions. Once I was seated at the bow, he pushed the boat through the weeds and waded in after it.
“Stay,” he told Blue.
She barked once to get her point across but plopped down at the edge of the lake, watching us go as she had many times before.
“Where are we headed?” I asked once Manning had climbed in.
“To the middle.” Slowly, he rowed us out on the water. As the night spread around us, complete stillness punctuated by occasional splashes and croaks, I began to wonder if the journey was the destination. Though Manning and I had planned a fairly low-key weekend, there was no getting around the chaos that came with having friends and family in one place. It’d been days, maybe even weeks, since I’d experienced this kind of stillness and peace.
“Okay, this was a good idea,” I admitted, shutting my eyes and relaxing against the back of the boat to enjoy the warm breeze.
“We’re here,” he said.
I opened my eyes. “Where’s here?”
“Middle of the lake. Best spot to see the show.” He reached for me. “Come.”
Taking his hand, I let him guide me forward to sit between his legs.
He enveloped me, hugging my back to his chest. “Look up.”
I relaxed against him, resting my arms on his as I scanned the countless stars. In the pitch black, they shone especially bright. “They’re beautiful,” I said.
“You know I’ll always move the stars for you if need be,” he said. “Whatever it takes.”
Though I appreciated the warmth behind his words, wasn’t it possible some fates couldn’t be rearranged? The vastness of the black sky and the sheer number of stars overhead made me feel small and insignificant—but not in a bad way. Did the universe have plans for us? Or had Manning and I really defined our own destiny? And what did either of those realities mean for our future?
Manning bent his mouth to my ear. “Lake?” he asked.
“Did you hear me?”
Whatever it takes. It occurred to me as we sat under the glittering stars that Manning would do anything in his power to move them in our favor—but what would it do to him if he couldn’t?