Monday, August 20, 2012

ARC Review: Within Reach

Within Reach
Sarah Mayberry
Contemporary Romance
Harlequin/August 7, 2012

Being a single dad was never on Michael Young's agenda. Yet with the sudden loss of his wife, that's exactly the role he has. On his best days, he thinks he can handle it. On his worst… Luckily, family friend Angie Bartlett has his back, easily stepping in to help out.

Lately, though, something has changed.

Michael is noticing exactly how gorgeous Angie is, and how single she is. She's constantly in his thoughts and he feels an attraction he never expected. Does he dare disrupt the very good thing they have going? If they have a fling that goes nowhere, he stands to lose everything—including her. But if they make it work, he stands to gain everything!

Ms. Mayberry has delivered a deeply emotional romance which shows how someone can come back from a most painful loss and learn to live again.  It's not only Michael and Angie who must deal with the death of Billie, Michael's wife and Angie's best friend, but also Michael and Billie's children and Mayberry does well demonstrating each characters grief.   

The story starts out with a happy setting but soon turns tragic.  It's not a light read but ventures into some profound emotions on the part of the hero and heroine as well as the kids.  Mayberry doesn't rush the romance, it would have felt untrue if she had.  Instead, she takes her time developing Michael and Angie's friendship then takes the next step when their both ready.  They are tentative friends, not sure exactly where their friendship stands without Billie there to connect them.  

Michael goes into a downward spiral, merely going through the motions.  When he finally comes out of it he still has a lot of healing to do but is now on the path to living again.  Mayberry's portrayal of Michael's grief is so intense, it's almost as if you are reading the real life emotions of a widower rather than a fictional character's feelings.  I was a little surprised at how much he distanced himself from his kids instead of pulling closer to them.  

Angie is going through similar emotions as Michael but she doesn't let them rule her the way he does.  She still feels profound grief but learns to work through it, mainly by keeping extremely busy with her work as a jewelry designer.  Angie could have easily falling into deep despair but didn't.  I liked how we see two different reactions to grief, showing how different people deal differently with loss.  

The romance, as I mentioned, took a while to develop.  There is a boatload of guilt carried by both Michael and Angie regarding their attraction.  The disloyalty to Billie's memory is foremost in their minds.  It's something they must work through but it doesn't come easily.  Had it come easily I think it would have lessened their great loss over Billie's death.   

This is not always an easy read but it is well written with insight to loss, pain and the happiness that can come after if you only let it.   

Rating: A-


  1. How many children do Michael have? For some reason, I thought he had a baby only... LOL.

    I think this will definitively be a book I'll read... Eventually. Not really in a hurry to read it. I don't mind the widower trope, but I find it more difficult to read when the new love interest was best friend with the dead spouse ^_^;

    I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Les :) Brie didn't love it, but she doesn't like the widower trope. I'm guessing I'll fall somewhere in the middle of you both :)

  2. I gave it a similar grade. I really enjoyed it.

    Nath - Michael has two children.

  3. Nath ~ I think if you're in the right mood you'll enjoy it.

    Ames ~ I had some concerns with the widower & best friend to lovers but Mayberry made it work for me too.

  4. I have this book in my TBR, so I didn't read the review (just looked at the grade!). I have got to read this! :D

  5. Hils ~ It's a good one. Mayberry handles the difficult topic well.