This book opens on a pretty awful scene. Luke Richardson is returning home after burying his beloved wife, Natalie. Not only is he dealing with his own grief, but also the grief of their three young children and learning how to parent their children alone. Something that he’s really not prepared for is the sight of a blue envelope in Natalie’s handwriting waiting for him on the floor of their home. Inside the envelop is a letter from Natalie, written on her first day of cancer treatment. This letter turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced that they are genuine, but who is sending them?
As the letters keep coming, Luke begins to learn that his wife had secrets, ones that she never told him, not even when she knew that her cancer wasn’t going to go into remission. As he continues to receive these letters, he becomes obsessed with them and their content. He begins to question everything that he ever believed to be true about his wife and their marriage.
The premise was really good. Putting myself in Luke’s shoes, I would probably become just as obsessed with these letters from my loved one that just suddenly started showing up right after the funeral. I could totally empathize with Luke in the beginning and even when he started finding out her secrets, I could go along with his reactions. But there were too many times where I just wanted to throttle him for being an idiot.
There were a lot of secondary characters that had a lot of page-time dedicated to them, but you really didn’t get a very good sense of who they were and how they fit into Luke and Natalie’s life. The relationships seemed a little stilted and wooden. Natalie’s mother absolutely hated Luke, but you really don’t get a sense of why. You would think that no matter how much you might dislike your son-in-law, that you would at least bury the hatchet long enough to have the funeral and help her grandchildren mourn.
It was kind of neat to get to know a character solely through her letters. I think that was probably the best aspect of the book for me. Learning about Natalie through her letters. She began them on the very day that she first started her treatments and as her disease got progressively worse, she began to open up about everything. How she wanted Luke to go on after she passed. What her deepest secret was and how it could effect him and their family.
The twist wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I thought it would be. Probably because I figured it out pretty quickly. I think without some of the foreshadowing the twist could have been much more of a surprise. I also wish it didn’t end as abruptly as it did. It ended on a cautiously optimistic note, but there were still so many questions left unanswered.
Jane loses her husband and her beloved beagle within weeks of each other. Jane is more devastated by the loss of her dog, Barnum, than she was by the loss of her husband. She knew long before he got sick, that things weren’t working out. But she stayed, because it was the right thing to do. But now that he’s gone, she’s ready to move back to San Diego and back to her old friends and her old life again.
Things don’t go exactly as planned. Jane can’t find a job in her niche field and the thought of moving to San Diego on her meager savings has her terrified. Her mother comes up with the perfect plan. Her aunt and uncle need help running their B&B for a few months while her aunt recovers from surgery. Jane decides to pack up and make the move to Arizona to be their chef working for her room and board while she searches for a job. It’s not ideal, especially since Jane is not good with people. An introvert, she’s much happier hiding from the world.
As Jane makes her way to Arizona, she comes across a scared stray dog at a rest stop. Jane makes the decision to bring the dog with her and turn her over to the local animal shelter and plans to forget about her. After the loss of Barnum, she has no intention on letting this mutt steal her heart. She’s also determined to have as little interaction with the B&B’s demanding guests and the annoyingly handsome handyman that lives nearby. Soon, both the dog and the handyman are working their charms on Jane and she just needs to decide whether she can open her heart again.
I really did enjoy this book, but Jane was incredibly annoying and thick-headed. There were a few laugh out loud passages, especially when talking about her husband’s ashes and what she does to try and fulfill his dying wishes. But there were times where I just wanted to smack her upside the head or take her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her!
I was not quite as satisfied with the ending. I wish it could have gone on a little longer to see more into the future, so much potential either for a longer novel or a sequel in my opinion.
Disclosure: I received this book as a Kindle First book, this in no way impacted my opinion of the book
Libby Miller is described as the eternal optimist. She views life through rose-colored glasses. But when her husband drops a bombshell on the same day that she’s given devastating news from her doctor, she realizes that those same rose-colored glasses that helped her get through her life have been blinding her. Libby believes she now has nothing to lose, so she abandons her life in Chicago and runs off to the beaches of a small island off Puerto Rico for what she believes will be her last hurrah. She tries to outrun and escape her past, her present and the undetermined future. But things don’t always work out the way that she believes they should and in the end, that’s probably a good thing. Libby has a choice to make, will it be the right one?
I had trouble identifying with Libby and I think a little more work could have been done in making her a more sympathetic and believable character. She did redeem herself somewhat near the end, but there were many times where I just wanted to reach through and smack her upside the head for being a selfish twit. Some of the supporting cast were somewhat flat and one dimensional, they were either way over-the-top (Paul) or they were almost a caricature (Jackie). My favorite character was actually Libby’s love interest, Shiloh. He was the person I could most empathize with and I really wish more time could have been spent with Libby and Shiloh.
I wish the book had been longer. Everything was wrapped up neatly far too soon given everything that was actually involved. I could have done without the stabbing with a fork and biting friends on the shoulder, but I did like that there was dark humor injected throughout the book and that it really didn’t seem to take itself too seriously even though several serious topics are discussed. It was a good “light read” well suited for a day where you want to curl up and lose yourself for a couple hours.