I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me say how much I love Sarah Mayberry’s books, but it’s true. I love them so much, that I’m willing to read a story that revolves around my least favorite trope. Unfortunately for me, not even Ms. Mayberry could make me enjoy it.
Michael and Angie had one person in common: Billie -- his wife and her best friend. One day Billie died, and just like that their lives changed. Almost a year later, Angie is ignoring her pain and Billie and Michael’s children are coping, but Michael is a mess. He doesn’t take care of the house, makes the same dinner every night and forgets promises he made to his daughter. Basically grief has rendered him useless. When Angie sees what a mess he’s become, and how the kids are suffering because of it, she wakes up from her own pain. Little by little they help each other put their lives in order, regain some normalcy and deal with their loss. Then the attraction begins. Subtle and unwelcome at first, they get to the point in which they can’t deny what’s happening. They both feel like they are betraying Billie, Michael isn’t ready to let go, and Angie doesn’t want to fall for a man whose heart belongs to someone else. Saying this is a tricky situation is putting it mildly.
There is a lot of grief in this book. Everyone was in pain, including me. Michael and Angie were interesting, complex characters and I liked them a lot. It was difficult seeing them suffer so much and I wanted them to be happy again. They had many things in common as well as great chemistry. So in a way, they were better suited than Michael and Bille ever were. Yet, it was obvious that Michael was head over heels in love with his wife. This is not one of those stories in which the hero feels guilty because he didn’t really love the dead wife, something I’m sure fans of the trope will appreciate. Within Reach is about a man losing the love of his life. So the reader has to accept that part of his heart will always belong to someone else. But Michael falls head over heels in love with Angie too, because the story is also about a man finding love again. It was a realistic portrayal of a tragic situation.
However, I didn’t enjoy the book at all. A big part of the fault is mine, because as much as I love Ms. Mayberry’s books, I hate the trope even more. But I think the main issue I had with the story was the timeframe. One year is not enough to get over such a devastating loss. This guy was a wreck and even though he struggles a lot with his feelings towards Angie and their romance isn’t easy, I’m not sure he was ready to fall for someone else. Billie is a big part of the story, Michael is constantly haunted by her memory —understandably so—and the whole time I felt like I was reading about the love triangle from hell where everyone ends up shortchanged: Michael doesn’t get to grow old with the love of his life; Angie has to share Michael’s heart with her dead best friend; and the poor kids don’t get their mother. I understand that theirs is a different love story and that Angie is the love of Michael’s new life, but I was in pain throughout the whole book.
If you enjoy the widowed hero trope, you should get this one right now (especially if you like it when the hero has sex with the heroine and then wakes up cuddling her and thinks she’s his dead wife. Oh yeah, there’s a scene like that. Good times!). It had some flaws but overall was an interesting, honest portrayal of grief, loss and second chance at love and life. It just wasn't the book for me.
Review by Brie
Purchase: Amazon (it's currently $2.99 on Kindle, I don't know how long the discount will last, but it's a great price)
Being a single dad was never on Michael Young's agenda. Yet with the sudden loss of his wife, that's exactly the role he has. On his best days, he thinks he can handle it. On his worst… Luckily, family friend Angie Bartlett has his back, easily stepping in to help out.
Lately, though, something has changed.
Michael is noticing exactly how gorgeous Angie is, and how single she is. She's constantly in his thoughts and he feels an attraction he never expected. Does he dare disrupt the very good thing they have going? If they have a fling that goes nowhere, he stands to lose everything—including her. But if they make it work, he stands to gain everything!
Harlequin. August 7, 2012