Published by Createspace on January 27th 2015
Genres: Death & Dying, Family, Romance
Elizabeth Carlson is living in the pits of hell- also known as grief. Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady’s prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her? Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days. When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn’t just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she’s capable of ever giving again. As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there’s more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there’s more to life than death.
This story is not about me falling in love. This story is about me learning to live again after love left my life.
This book was a nice surprise. I expected a book that deals with the five stages of grieving to be gut wrenching so I’d put off reading it until a day when I was in the mood for a good cry and when I was stocked up on Puffs Plus. Undoubtedly, there are many sad times but the first chapter was the only one I thought was truly heartbreaking (okay, and maybe another towards the end). Those occasions are outweighed by many uplifting moments throughout the book.
It’s the story of Liz, a mom of four young children, who is struggling to hold it together and simply make it through each day six months after the death of her husband, Grady. She is consumed with grief and completely overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising her children alone. Simple tasks like getting the kids to school on time and remembering to take out the garbage have become monumental. Ben moves next door and instantly irritates her. Little by little however, Ben’s acts of kindness wear down Liz’s defenses. The two develop a close friendship but eventually Ben wants more from their relationship. Can Liz ever allow herself to experience love or even happiness with another man again?
Liz is a character I could easily identify with. She isn’t the perfect mom. Her kids are late to school all the time, her son misses soccer practice, she’s horrible at helping with math homework, and her daughter is a discipline problem. Although she might want to have a pity party, she shows up for her kids and makes the effort to do better each day. Yes, she’s flawed but she’s a good mom and I admired her tremendously. Her kids are loved and they love her in return.
I loved Ben! He’s just a genuinely nice guy. I adored how gentle he is with Liz’s emotions and how willing he is to take what pieces of her affections she’s able to give at her pace. My ovaries practically ached reading about Ben interacting with Liz’s kids. They were clearly meant to be a family. The only thing holding them back was Liz.
On the downside, I felt the pacing dragged in places. And although Liz’s grief was understandable, her proclamations of love for her deceased husband seemed repetitive: Grady is the love of my life; I will never love Ben like Grady; we can never have what Grady and I had. It still wound up being enjoyable and heartwarming.
I recommend this book for those who appreciate a sweet, thoughtful and mature love story.