Reviewed by Kini
What do you do when your soul mate marries your best friend?
If you’re Kate Evans, you keep your friend Rachel, bond with her kids, and bury your feelings for her husband. The fact that Shane’s in the military and away for long periods helps-but when tragedy strikes, everything changes.
After Rachel, pregnant with her fourth child, dies in a car accident and the baby miraculously survives, Kate upends her entire life to share parenting duties. Then on the first anniversary of Rachel’s death, Kate and Shane take comfort in each other in a night that they both soon regret.
Shane’s been angry for a year, and now he feels guilty too – for sleeping with his wife’s best friend and liking it . . . liking her. Kate’s ability to read him like a book may have once sent Shane running, but their lives are forever entwined and they are growing closer.
Now with Shane deployed for seven months, Kate is on her own and struggling with being a single parent. Shane is loving and supportive from thousands of miles away, but his homecoming brings a betrayal Kate never saw coming. So Kate’s only choice is to fight for the future she deserves – with or without Shane. . .
I was drawn in by this blurb. The unrequited love who is married to your best friend is now available due to tragedy. I must have been in the mood for some angsty, emotional goodness. When I finally read this, I had taken some time away from reading and went in pretty unprepared. Overall this was an interesting read, too much happening off page for my liking and a lot of little things that I didn’t like.
The very first thing that struck me as odd was when Rachel is in the car accident, Kate is the emergency contact. Kate rushes to the hospital and calling Rachel’s husband is an after thought. It has already been established that at one point in life many years ago, Kate and Shane were friends. They were quasi-related, at 17 he became the foster son of her aunt and uncle. Shane went on to fall in love with Kate’s bestie and Kate was nudged out. Yet she was a very big part of Rachel’s life, but we really find that out over the course the book, which is why it felt odd that she didn’t get in touch with Shane before going to the hospital. I also found it odd that as far as I could tell, no clear explanation of Rachel’s accident was given. Either it was and I missed it, or because of my own recent life events, I was slightly obsessed with knowing that it bothered me. This may be a non-issue to other readers.
Anyway, the book quickly flash forwards to a year after the accident. Kate has transitioned to mother/nanny of the kids and Shane is there. I never really picked up on why Kate had cared for Shane prior to his coupledom with Rachel. It was talked about several times, but I never really got it. Mostly because Shane was a straight up dick to Kate. I think that the author was going for emotionally damaged, but I read him as void of emotion except hate and meanness. Shane was in the military off and on for several years and had several deployments. In many ways, Kate was a second parent to the children before Rachel’s death. After her death, Kate kind of became the primary parent. Kate steps in again when Shane is deployed again. Her love for the children is so overwhelming, she subjects herself to what is essentially Shane emotionally abusing her. She’s good enough to keep his kids, yet not good enough to be trusted to discipline them. It is hard to give a lot of specific examples without giving away part of the story.
Shane treats Kate horribly. Several times. Gives her his affection and then literally rips it away. I cried while reading this book, because my heart hurt for Kate. If I had a real life friend that did the things to Kate that Shane did, I would have advised her to get an attorney and take action against him.It was supposed to be part of the story and Shane behaved that way because Kate saw too much of him or something like that. I know that anger is part of the grieving process, but this was too much for me. I found very little redemption for Shane as the book closed out. The groveling and making up he did for Kate was so little in comparison to the hurt he caused.
I will admit that I liked Kate. I liked and identified with her ability to give for what became her children. In many senses she was trapped in that relationship with Shane in order to keep her relationship with the children.
Clearly I have some feelings about this book. As I was reading it I was thinking that Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry is an example of how much better this trope can work. Perhaps you are wondering why I finished it, only to find out how the story finished for Kate.