I went into this book practically blind – the only thing I knew about it was what the cover looked like, I just picked it up randomly from the library. To be completely honest, this was definitely the wrong book to do that with – it ended up being half bland romance, and half emotionally-pandering tragedy. It felt like two separate books glued together: a typical romance book with a Nicholas Sparks book appended to the end.
When Emma Montague left the strict confines of upper-crust British life for New York, she felt sure it would make her happy. Away from her parents and expectations, she felt liberated, throwing herself into Manhattan life replete with a high-paying job, a gorgeous apartment, and a string of successful boyfriends. But the cutthroat world of finance and relentless pursuit of more began to take its toll. This wasn’t the life she wanted either.
On the move again, Emma settles in the picturesque waterfront town of Westport, Connecticut, a world apart from both England and Manhattan. It is here that she begins to confront what it is she really wants from her life. With no job, and knowing only one person in town, she channels her passion for creating beautiful spaces into remaking the dilapidated cottage she rents from Dominic, a local handyman who lives next door with his six-year-old son.
Unlike any man Emma has ever known, Dominic is confident, grounded, and committed to being present for his son whose mother fled shortly after he was born. They become friends, and slowly much more, as Emma finds herself feeling at home in a way she never has before.
But just as they start to imagine a life together as a family, fate intervenes in the most shocking of ways. For the first time, Emma has to stay and fight for what she loves, for the truth she has discovered about herself, or risk losing it all.
As I said before, this book felt like two completely different novels just glued together. There was a lack of continuity between the first part of the book and the second part after the major tragic event – the two parts just did not flow together. The characters felt fundamentally different before and after the tragedy (and not in a ‘they grew and evolved’ type of way). The only reason I didn’t give this book a 1/5 was because the first part of the book was an OK love story. Nothing original, and boring characters, but who doesn’t like the classic falling in love with a down to earth handyman plot-line? Honestly, this would have been a 3 star book if it had just ended with the happy ending instead of throwing the tragedy in.
I’m going to warn you right here – I’m about to discuss spoilers here. Skip to the next paragraph to be out of the spoiler zone. So the big divide between the two parts of the book was the unexpected death of Dominic – the male romantic lead. While this could have been an interesting twist in the story – it really came off as a cheap dig for an emotional response from the reader. Instead of it being a place for the remaining characters to grow from and to take time to really dig into the emotional complexities of the moment, it was just another event in the book with little development. The lack of grace that this book handled this tragic death with really cemented the fact that it was last ditch attempt to make the reader care about two undeveloped characters with a half-baked romance.
Emma was basically a stock character out of a lot of romance books; she was a walking trope. She comes from a high power background and moves to a small town where she struggles a bit to fit in because of her background, and eventually falls in love with a very blue collar guy. Stop me if this sounds familiar. Unlike other books with similar leading characters, Emma didn’t have any more depth than her than the high-power-in-a-small-town trope. What bothered me most was the lack of growth throughout most of the book – but then the major tragic event hit and the That lack of depth extended to all of the characters – they all perfectly fit into different cliche molds. Honestly, the lack of effort defining the characters felt very lazy and made the book even more forgettable than the plot did.
Unless you’re into the Nicholas Sparks style of books (tragic/sad/emotional porn) I would give this book a pass. The romance to begin with is not enough to outweigh the blatant emotional manipulation that this book tries to do to the reader – it’s a cheap bid at being an emotionally driven, tragic book. 2/5