By: Debbie Macomber
Published Year: 2017
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): If not for her loving but controlling parents, Beth Prudhomme might never have taken charge of her life and moved from her native Chicago to Portland, Oregon, where she s reconnected with her spirited Aunt Sunshine and found a job as a high school music teacher. If not for her friend Nichole, Beth would never have met Sam Carney, although first impressions have left Beth with serious doubts. Sam is everything Beth is not and her parents worst nightmare: a tattooed auto mechanic who s rough around the edges. Reserved and smart as a whip, Beth isn t exactly Sam s usual beer-drinking, pool-playing type of woman, either.
But if not for an awkward setup one evening, Beth might never have left early and been involved in a car crash. And if not for Sam who witnessed the terrifying ordeal, rushed to her aid, and stayed with her until help arrived Beth might have been all alone, or worse. Yet as events play out, Sam feels compelled to check on Beth almost daily at the hospital even bringing his guitar to play songs to lift her spirits. Soon their unlikely friendship evolves into an intense attraction that surprises them both.
Before long, Beth's strong-willed mother, Ellie, blows into town spouting harsh opinions, especially about Sam, and reopening old wounds with Sunshine. When shocking secrets from Sam s past are revealed, Beth struggles to reconcile her feelings. But when Beth goes a step too far, she risks losing the man and the life she s come to love.
What I thought
I now understand why Hallmark makes movies based off of Debbie Macomber’s novels!
This is technically the 3rd book in a series, but it’s your typical romance series in that each book is a standalone, with overlapping characters. The series is the “New Beginning” series, so that’s kind of the overarching theme of the stories, not that it follows the same people from book to book. This book follows Beth and Sam, but has Nichole and Rocco who were characters from book 2. It’s fun in that if you’ve read the previous book, you get a bit of an update on their lives.
Beth is a sheltered rich girl from Chicago who moves to Portland to live her own life and get out from underneath her controlling mother’s thumb. She moves in with her hippie, artsy Aunt Sunshine and starts a job as a teacher. Sam is a rough around the edges, tatted up mechanic who is stuck in his own ways and doesn’t do relationships. However, after a disaster of a blind set up by Nichole, Beth gets into a major car accident on the way home that Sam witnesses. He runs to her side and everything changes.
I really liked that the change in their relationship wasn’t super drawn out. Sam realized pretty quickly that he was wrong about Beth and starts to like her. I also liked that they didn’t assume they were going to continue living in a perfect relationship bubble once Beth was out of rehab. They were a very cute couple and it was fun to see them grow.
Of course, Sam has a dark past that gets in the way and causes some riffs in their relationship. I didn’t mind it when it caused him to hold back, but when it became a bigger issue later in the book, then I got a bit annoyed. There was a great moment where Sam was talking to Rocco about breaking up with Beth because he felt things were getting to serious (aka he was scared of falling in love) and felt like she wasn’t ready (aka he wasn’t ready) and she needed to date other people. Rocco tells Sam he’s going to regret that decision and it was great. Also, Beth responds perfectly. They’re at dinner when he suggests she dates other people, and instead of crying or yelling, she’s just like “Oh. Ok, well there was this one guy who asked me out the other day and I turned him down, but now I’ll say yes.” I just really appreciated it.
I enjoyed all of the characters, and while they had there flaws, it wasn’t anything that made me dislike them so much that I couldn’t read the story. Beth’s mom was a horrible person, but every story needs a villain.
What Book Club Thought
One member disliked it so much that she only got about 30% of the way through and had to stop. The rest of us flew through it and enjoyed it. Obviously, we had our issues. This book isn’t going to win medals, but it’s enjoyable and a breath of fresh air amongst serious life. I felt it was exactly what it was meant to be and that was good enough for me.
Meghan and I watch a lot of Hallmark movies, so we tried to think of which actors we would want to see if they made this into a Hallmark movie. We couldn’t think of a good male lead, but we liked Brooke D’Orsay or Merritt Patterson for Beth!