Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read this book prior to publication.
Can you ever really know the person you love?
This is the over-arching theme of this book. Caroline Hammond asks herself that question as she discovers that her husband, Adam has been having an affair with another man. As if that devastating news wasn’t already hard enough to bear, she also learns that he’s been hiding a whole host of other secrets from her for years. She begins to question how well she really knew this man that she’s spent half her life with.
The story follows Caroline as she works through the initial shock of Adam’s betrayal. As she questions herself and everyone around her. How could she not have known? Did anyone have any idea? She was completely blindsided by his affair, never had any clue that he was anything other than the loving man that she’s been with since she was a teenager. The story winds through her life over the next few months as she learns more and more about this man she married. Adam is more of a stranger to her now than someone who she’s shared her life with for nearly two decades.
I enjoyed the story and though the plot was a familiar one, it was handled very well. There was a flow to the story that worked very well. There were some awkward moments, especially between Caroline and her best friend and also with her sister. Caroline’s coming to terms with her divorce and dealing with her loneliness are heart-wrenching at times.
Adam is nearly unredeemable. Not only does he cheat on his wife and destroy his wedding vows, he cannot take any responsibility for his actions. He’s completely unable to explain himself or gives banal and inane responses. If he’s truly this shallow and unrepentant, what did Caroline see in him in the first place? I wanted to strangle him every time he opened his mouth. I could find no redeeming qualities in Adam and was very happy in Caroline’s decision to kick him to the curb where he belongs.
A decent woman’s fiction book with a little romance thrown in. There are a few racy passages, but nothing too extreme. I did enjoy Caroline’s foray back into the dating world and all the fun that comes with it!
Claire (who goes by Neely) has moved back home and has opened her dream bakery. She is no ordinary baker, her flavor combinations are nothing short of magical and she seems to have the uncanny ability to know exactly what flavor will touch her customer’s souls. She can “taste” the flavor of her customer to know what the right combination is for their baked delight.
Neely has taken on a large high-end wedding short notice and is having nothing but problems. She’s dealing with a free-spirited bride and her very overbearing mother. She can’t get a read on either one of them and is having a terrible time trying to help them choose the perfect wedding cake. To add to this, she’s going through a messy divorce, re-kindling an old romance and her absentee father has started mailing her again after nearly two decades.
The story was well written and her interactions between the bride and her mother and all of the supporting cast was believable and genuine. Neely was a very solid character and you could easily feel a connection to her, as well as the other supporting characters in her life from Ben, her old flame to Maggie, her employee at the bakery. They are, for the most part, well-thought and well put together characters, ones you could see yourself running into if you visited her hometown.
I wasn’t as much of a fan of the back and forth that the story took between Neely and back through her ancestry, showing where her gift of “taste” comes from. For me, it did take away from the story a little too much to be abruptly thrown back in time to a different person and place, seemingly at random and sometimes it didn’t seem to have a real connection with what was going on in Neely’s world.
I also saw a few loose ends that never did get tied off and left me feeling a little unsatisfied. If the author is going to be doing a follow up book to this one, I guess it would make sense. If not, there are a few threads that could be snipped without doing any damage to the story. But I still liked the story and the characters and I am definitely going to pick up other works by Judith Fertig to see if there are more adventures with Neely and her wonderful gift.
4 1/2 Stars
Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for the chance to read this book.
Nichole and Leanne are an unlikely duo. Leanne is Nichole’s mother-in-law and now they have both left their troubled marriages and have taken up apartments in Portland near each other. They are each other’s support and they have created a set of rules to live by in order to get their lives back. They are now taking care of themselves, something that they lost along the way during their now broken marriages.
Nichole was married to Jake, Leanne’s son. When she finds out that he was cheating on her and got another woman pregnant, she showed amazing strength and left him and served him with divorce papers. Leanne drew strength from Nichole and finally got up the courage to leave Sean and their marriage of nearly 35 years. For decades she had been quietly ignoring his cheating and indiscretions, but in watching her son follow the same pattern as his father, she has finally had enough and walks out and starts a new life.
It is now two years since they left their respective husbands. Jake has been dragging his feet and is finally ready to finalize the divorce. Nichole gets this news and promptly backs her car into a ditch. She meets Rocco, a local tow-truck owner who drags her car out of the ditch and through a series of events that were both comical and endearing, they begin a friendship that could definitely move into something more. Rocco is the opposite of the white-collar Jake but maybe this is just what Nichole needs.
Leanne has started volunteering to teach an English as a second language class in the evenings. This is where she meets Nikolai, a very talented baker from the Ukraine. He soon becomes her favorite student and is taken to walking her to her car every evening and baking her bread. He slowly begins to show her that she is lovable and desirable. That her ex-husband was a fool.
While this is definitely part of the happy endings club of books, you really wonder through the majority of the book if this will ever happen or if this will be one of those books that defies the odds and doesn’t give the characters a happier ending. There are more than a few tear-jerker moments and I definitely gasped out loud a few times. It’s not all sunshine and roses for these ladies and the men in their lives. There are plenty of conflicts and tragedies that wind their way through this story. This is definitely not your typical romance novel and I was very pleasantly surprised by this. It was a very engaging story and I found myself blazing through it, unable to put it down.
I loved all of the characters, even Jake and Sean. They had an authenticity to them that you couldn’t deny. While this isn’t my typical genre, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes a good romance novel with a great ending. Authentic characters and a story that doesn’t require you to suspend belief. This is a story that could probably happen to any of us and probably echoes some of our own marriages and struggles. I am definitely a fan of this book and will most likely be looking into other books by the author if they are anything like A Girl’s Guide to Moving On.