When one man’s death exposes a complex web of lies, three couples discover the true meaning of love, loss and redemption.
What do you do when you find out your whole life was a lie?
That your husband really wasn't your husband but someone else's.
That the vows you made to each other were simply empty promises.
You pick up and move to the country to start fresh.
When life hands you limes, you make sure you have tequila because your life is about to get stirred up.
Married to my high school sweetheart, the best thing she gave me was my baby girl.
But we weren't enough for her. I wasn't enough for her.
The last thing I expected on my birthday was a Dear John letter, but that’s what I got when she upped and left.
Now, it's just me and my girl against the world till the new girl moves in next door.
Is there such a thing as a perfect love story?
This last one, really, is what this book is about. It’s marketed as a romance, and this is true. But, at the same time, it is different. This is almost women’s fiction, because in a lot of ways it is Hailey’s journey…back to herself, after a devastating loss. It’s about Hailey picking up the pieces, and finding herself, and her courage, and the sparkle in her eyes and finding her way back to the woman who can love, and be loved, without doubting that it is real.
Hailey lives everyone’s worst nightmare, to get the news that her spouse has been killed, DOA, with no chance to say goodbye, or to do things over in the morning, to give a more thoughtful goodbye kiss, to pay attention to those little details that are just all of a sudden missing after a loss.
From the blurb, and from the way people are acting literally from page one, you know that the book is going to start here, it is going to grab you, and hold on to you, and it’s not going to let you go. Kind of like life does with Hailey. The hits keep coming, the shocks, the things she has to learn to live with, the things she has to learn to live without knowing, the things she has to learn to accept because she not only can’t change them, but she can’t go back either. Yes, this is life, broken down to its bare form, that we exist from one event, one shock or one happy thing to another. But, this is a story about characters, and the people in the story, much more than it is about plot…so, it’s one event to the other, with the emotional connection to Hailey, and to Jensen behind the events.
Jensen found a Dear John letter from the woman he expected to spend the rest of his life with, the woman he had started a family with. And, in a lot of ways, was left with the same sort of questions that Hailey struggles with. But, he was in a different place, no longer numb to the pain, but still angry and not quite at the point where he was ready to let the past go and move into the future.
This book is a slow burn, and while it is a romance, it takes a long time to get there. I think if you go into this expecting the steamy romances you have become accustomed to from Natasha Madison, you are going to be a little surprised by the way this one plays out. But, isn’t that the greatest fun of all? When you have an author you enjoy, and she writes a story that is different in enough ways that it feels fresh, but is the same in enough ways that it feels like you are spending time with an old friend, and reading the words of someone who is a familiar voice.
The writing is strong. The characters are believable, and the way it is told with the slightly overlapping POVs (not majorly, just a few minutes here and there) is a trademark of Ms. Madison’s and also something that works particularly well in this story, as they are both in different places on the same journey of learning to find their joy after the heartbreak.
With all that is going on, this book could be sad. And, it could leave you feel drained. I can’t lie, it’s not a comedy. But, it doesn’t leave you sad. It leaves you feeling hopeful, that maybe there is light at the end of whatever tunnel life places you into, if you believe that you can get there, or even if you don’t and just get up every day, one of those days, there will be a light there that was not there before. And, that light is going to be happiness. No matter that you never thought you would find it again, or that you had given up on it…happiness and joy find a way back.
I was lucky enough to read a very early copy of this title, because, to paraphrase Ms. Madison, I would give her an honest opinion and wouldn’t kiss her ass. (No pressure, really!) Well, Natasha, completely free of any ass kissing, this was a wonderful book. As you have said, it is a different book for you…but it was absolutely wonderful. I am so glad you took the chance to write this, and to tell a different story, and I am honored that you trusted me enough to send me an early copy and actually want to know what I thought.
I recommend this title…but, I think you figured that out already.
This story broke my heart in the beginning. And it took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions throughout the rest of it. This isn't what I've come to expect from this author (not that I haven't loved her other works!) and I love the way she handled things.
You can tell from the blurb of this book that you're going to have some healing to do throughout it. Hailey just had my attention. She had my sympathy. I championed her. She's dealt such a blow and watching her build herself up again, and find herself again was so, so satisfying.
Jensen-well, Jensen. I'm such a fan of single dads, they're like kryptonite for me I swear. He isn't a single dad by choice, mind you, having discovered a Dear John letter from his ex. I appreciated that like Hailey, he had some growing to do, some feelings to work through, but he had more to worry himself with at the same time. So I get that some people might think he's a bit rougher around the edges, but I fell for him anyway.
This was a great slow burn book and, in my opinion, it needed to be a slow burn. These two had healing and growing to do before they could come together.The way they come together is believable and just works.
The writing here was great. It's strong and the book is paced so well, it just flows seamlessly. This had a bit of everything in it but definitely had me sighing and smiling at the end. I absolutely loved this journey and can't wait to see what's next. I recommend this book.
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“Hello.” Turning down “Glorious” by Macklemore blasting in the background while I washed the kitchen floor with Pine Sol and water, I answer the phone after the first ring.
“It’s me.” I hear my best friend and cousin, Crystal, say from the other end. “Where are you?” I can’t see her face, but I know something is wrong. Even though she’s asked me that question a million times before, this time it’s different. There is no carefree tone. This time, it’s curt and to the point with no laughter in her voice.
“I’m home,” I say, almost whispering as my hand shakes against my ear. My mouth suddenly goes dry, my neck starting to get hot. Something inside my stomach suddenly drops when a slow burn sets in.
“You need to come to the hospital.” Crystal is an emergency room nurse at St. Mary’s, so whatever feeling I was having before has now doubled. “Blake is on his way to get you.” When she mentions my brother, I now know something is gravely wrong. The honk outside doesn’t allow me to question her any further. “You need to get in the car, okay?” she says softly but firmly. “Listen to me, Hailey. Go outside and get here.” My head nods as the hand holding my phone to my ear falls away.
The front door opens, and Blake comes in, looking at me with sorrow and sadness. His brown eyes meet mine briefly, and then he looks down. He doesn’t say anything to me; he simply holds out his hand to me. I put my hand in his, and he leads me out to his truck. He opens the door for me, helping me take that step in.
As I’m looking at him, he pulls the seat belt over my chest and buckles me in. My mind’s still playing the phone call, trying to dissect the conversation. Trying to find one little word that can be the clue. “It’s going to be okay.” His voice breaks through the haze.
I nod my head at him, then he steps back and shuts the door, jogging over to his side. He gets in and puts the truck in drive. I’m on the outside looking in, watching my life fall apart without knowing it.
The only thing I’m certain of is that the sun is shining without a cloud in the sky. As I watch a bird soar through the sky almost in the same direction we are going, I think to myself, Bad things don’t happen when it’s sunny outside, right?
I watch the bird, not even realizing we’ve made it to the hospital. I don’t have a chance to open my door because Blake has it opened before I even think to reach for the handle. “You’re going to be okay,” he assures me as he raises his baseball cap to run his hands through his short dark hair.
“What’s going on?” I have a feeling my entire life is about to change, so I beg him to tell me before we walk through those doors. Blake doesn’t answer. He just reaches down to grab my hand and lead me through the revolving doors.
The harsh smell of antiseptic immediately fills my nose. Voices bombard me, though, none of them are familiar. Glancing around, I take in the hustle and bustle of the emergency room. My heartbeat echoes in my ears as I try in vain to locate a familiar face. I just need to know who we’re here for.
As we silently walk down the corridor, my mind never stops thinking about why we are here. I look up at Blake, asking the one question that makes my heart squeeze with such intense pain, it feels like it might explode.
“Is it Mom? Dad?” I can hear the pleading in my tone. He gives me nothing, continuing to look straight ahead. My eyes go back to the floor, following the tile pattern as we make our way beyond the entrance to the emergency room. The first thing I see is both of my parents, alive and healthy. My mother has tears running down her cheeks, and my father has his arm around her shoulders. They are standing next to the nurses’ station. I look back at Blake in horror. “Is it Nanny?”
He doesn’t have time to answer because Crystal comes out from behind the nurses’ station in her everyday uniform of blue scrubs and Crocs, wearing a stethoscope around her neck.
With one glance at her face, I stop my feet in their tracks. My feet are stuck to the floor as if someone crazy glued them to that spot. I can see the hurt and tears in her eyes. She looks at me with her head tilted sideways, her bottom lip trembling. My body blocks any movements I try to make. I try to advance to Crystal, but I can’t. My knees start to give out, and a horrible shrieking sound comes from somewhere.
I try turning my head to see where the yelling is coming from, but I can’t. I’m on my hands and knees in the hospital corridor. It isn’t until the coldness seeps through my hands that I realize I’m the one screaming. That wretched sound is coming from me. Me. My throat raw, my eyes burning, and my heart irrevocably broken. No words need to be said. No confirmation given. I don’t need them to bring me to a place where we can “talk quietly.” It’s at that moment I finally know what everyone else knows.
My husband is dead.
When her nose isn't buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she's in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It's a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn't listen to her...