If You Ask Me by Libby Hubscher
March 8, 2022, by Berkley
Review by Angela
Before I even get into the review, it must be said that if you are picking up this book based on the cover you will be either be sorely disappointed or super surprised (possibly both) by the content. This is absolutely not a romantic comedy in any, way, shape, or form. I would even go so far to say that this isn’t even really a contemporary romance, although there is a romantic element within the story. I feel like If You Ask Me would definitely fall more in line with the Women’s Fiction genre.
If You Ask Me follows Violet Covington, the writer behind the advice column Dear Sweetie, as she navigates her newfound singlehood after catching her husband and his mistress together in their bed. Violet and Sam have been married for 12 years and she thought they were happy, but she starts to question everything about their life together when she finds out he’s been seeing their shapely, younger neighbor for months.
Violet’s life turns inside out and she begins to do things she would never have done before. Her world begins spiraling out of control and she really doesn’t know what to do about it. When she drags Sam’s prized possessions out into the street and sets fire to them, she meets Dez, who is the firefighter who arrives to put out the blaze. She and Dez begin a sort of friendship that turns into more when his steady presence begins to help her see her way to the other side of her grief and anger.
This book has such heavy subject matter. Infidelity, identity crisis, panic attacks… I could go on and on. I totally understood Violet’s heartbreak and depression over the loss of a part of her life she felt secure in. I didn’t get her need to hide the issue from her mother and close friends, but then everyone handles things differently. There were a few flashback scenes of Violet’s parents having their own issues with cheating with an emphasis on how her mother dealt with it, and it did shed some light on at least some of the ways she behaved.
The outtakes of her column, with letters asking for advice and Violet’s answers, fit in nicely with the narrative. It was easy to see her before, during, and after responses and how she healed throughout the course of the book. The romance takes a backseat to Violet’s journey, but Dez plays a big part in that. Theirs is a closed-door romance, so there isn’t much heat, but the scenes with them together are sweet and Dez is a wonderful partner.
One thing I did appreciate was the frank talk of infertility and that the author chose not to include a miracle pregnancy in the epilogue. Thank you.
This is the second book I’ve read by Libby Hubscher, and both of them had the cutesy cover with deep subject matter. I do enjoy this author’s voice quite a bit and will be picking up her next book, which has a baseball theme (my favorite), but I’ll go in expecting lots of soul searching and the heroine having a journey of self-discovery.
Content warnings- Infidelity, infertility, mentions of a family member’s suicide, intoxication, panic attacks, anxiety.
I have a lot of issues with illustrated covers. I know that not everyone is down with the shirtless cover models with six-pack abs, but at least that lets you know what you’re getting. Would the cover of this book really communicate infidelity, infertility, divorce, starting over? Even a photographic cover with a tree, a river, a house would do a better job of letting readers know “women’s fiction.”