Tuesday, December 20, 2022


I'm not a huge romance reader, but sometimes, when I'm super exhausted, there's something very relaxing about vegging out with a simple, predictable, formulaic romance novel.  And this last weekend, this was just what I needed.

Lucy is a widow - something that is mentioned over and over and over in this book.  Her husband, who she adored, died in a car wreck a scant eight months after their wedding.  Five years on, she's still mourning, but is starting to feel like she might be ready to jump back into the dating game.

She's not looking for love, mind you.  She's looking for companionship and sex and stability, but so afraid of having her heart shattered again, she's not looking for anyone who makes her feel something too strong.  Which means Ethan,  her current best-friend-with-benefits - her husband's younger brother - is off limits.

But staying away from Ethan isn't as easy as she thinks it might be and she finds she misses his company more than she thought she would.  And Ethan isn't giving up on her either.  He's determined to make Lucy see that he's not just Jimmy's goofy younger brother, that he's worth looking at in his own right.

As the pair dance with the idea of a forever together, can Lucy take a risk on happiness?

I found this a quick, easy read, which frustrated me in places.  The constant repetition of Lucy's widowhood, her hang ups, her fear of the graveyard near the family bakery.  Author, we get it!  We don't need constant reminders that this is how she thinks and feels.  Maybe just a few dropped in here and there in case the reader has set the book aside for a few days...

I liked the small town Lucy and Ethan live in with the cast of eccentric characters, none more so than Lucy's family of "black widows", women  who have remained single after the premature deaths of their husbands.  They were hilarious, but the effect their sanctimonious mourning has had on Lucy and her sister is terrifying to see.  When Lucy's sister's husband walks out on her, I wanted to cheer.  No man wants his wife hovering over him, checking in that he hasn't died, done anything dangerous - like eat bacon - or failed to floss every five minutes.  Probably not the reaction the author was going for, but...

Anyway.  If you're looking for a simple, comforting romance, you could do worse than this one.  It's predictable and follows all the traditional romance novel tropes, but sometimes that's just what you want out of a book.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

Lucy Lang isn't looking for fireworks...

She's looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who'll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbeque, teach their future children to play soccer. But most important... someone who won't inspire the slightest stirring in her heart...or anywhere else. A young widow, Lucy can't risk that kind of loss again. But sharing her life with a cat named Fat Mikey and the Black Widows at the family bakery isn't enough either. So it's goodbye to Ethan, her hot but entirely inappropriate "friend with privileges" and hello to a man she can marry.

Too bad Ethan Mirabelli isn't going anywhere. As far as he's concerned, what she needs might be right under her nose. But can he convince her that the next best thing can really be forever?

1 comment:

  1. This whole concept makes me... uneasy. Her husband's younger brother??? And the fact that it's called "The Next Best Thing"? That does not sound healthy.