Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary romance from Debbie Macomber. IF NOT FOR YOU is the third book in her New Beginnings series, but easily enjoyed as a standalone. I did read A GIRL’S GUIDE TO MOVING ON, the second book, and I liked it too.
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.
Beth is a 25 y/o sheltered woman, striking out on her own to build a career and life outside of her mother’s stern grasp. She’s relocated to Portland, Oregon to be near her dear Aunt Sunshine and take a position as high school music teacher. Her meek, but kind, physicist father has guaranteed that momma bird will stay back in Chicago for at least six months, before she’s able to come and inspect Beth’s new life.
Beth is a delicate-looking woman, and a new colleague offers to set her up with he husband’s best friend, Sam. Sam is not delicate. He’s a bearded, tattooed mechanic, and a darned good one. Still, he’s not excited to meet Beth at his buddy’s home and the set-up date is a awkward as can be. They develop a camaraderie about being set-up, and when the expectations of “no thanks” are realized on both sides, they part with smiles. Sam and Beth take the same route home, which is how Sam witnesses Beth’s tiny car getting broadsided when a texting teen runs a red light.
Beth’s in bad, bad shape, and Sam’s, well, he’s by her side in an instant, and holds her hand while calling 911. Beth’s pain is immense, and Sam’s gruff voice and tight grasp are pivotal in keeping her from fading out altogether. This unlikely couple, who could barely spend a dinner together, soon become very good friends. Sam visits Beth in the hospital, and a rapport grows. They share conversation, at first, but soon it’s clear that they want more than just a friendship. They make music together–and I mean that in the literal sense. Sam brings his guitar, and Beth plays the rehab center’s piano. The music solidifies their bond, and Sam longs for the day Beth will walk out of rehab and into a relationship. Which is odd, because Sam hasn’t dated in more than a decade.
Beth is a cock-eyed optimist, and has her heart set on fixing everyone around her, including her never-married Aunt Sunshine and Sam, who grieves a lost child. But her well-meant efforts don’t bring about the desired results. At first.
Beth is a nice gal, but she’s so naive. It was good to see her grow and develop into a strong adult, now that her mom’s not pulling her strings. Sam’s a decent guy, and I was glad he found love–even though he was rather stubborn about it. There’s a subplot regarding Beth’s mom, aunt, and a man they both loved back in college. The one that got away, if you will. Well, that was a darker plotline clearly developed as a foil to Beth and Sam’s romance. That said, it’s nice that the family rift was healed after so many years. This book ends with an HEA, but it’s a quiet romance. Don’t expect more than some chaste kissing on the page.
Interested? You can find IF NOT FOR YOU on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other discount book outlets like Target, WalMart and your library, undoubtedly. I received a review copy via NetGalley.
about the Author:
Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber’s novels have spent over 990 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Sixteen of these novels hit the number one spot.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!