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Review: Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Publisher: Harlequin
Where did you get the book: e-ARC from publisher
Release date: 7th August

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.

*blurb taken from Goodreads*

I’ve been a fan of some of Sarah Mayberry’s titles, and after reading and enjoying her Best Worst Mistake, I was happy to see Within Reach available for review. Reading the blurb I found myself a little hesitant because of how angsty it sounded, but I wanted to give it a go.

Angie had been Billie’s best friend ever since they were in boarding school together. They have very different personalities with Billie being more outgoing and Angie being more reserved. Their friendship and love for one another lasted through school and into adulthood. Angie comes over to celebrate Billie’s birthday with Billie’s family: husband Michael, and their two kids Charlie and Eva. Everyone is having the time of their lives when Billie suddenly keels over and dies of an undiagnosed heart condition. Billie’s leaves a gaping and devastating hole for her family and for Angie.

Ten months have passed since Billie’s death, and Angie has managed to start living life again without the overwhelming feeling of grief. But Michael is still struggling and Angie notices that Michael needs to come out of his grief a little not only for the sake of his two children, but for himself. Angie becomes their rock with looking after the children when needed, and becoming Michael’s friend. With Michael and Angie becoming closer to one another, an unwelcome and surprising attraction forms between them. Michael is agonised over what he feels is a betrayal to his dead wife, and Angie feels if she’s being disloyal to her best friend.

I enjoyed this book, but throughout the book I was left feeling uncomfortable. It’s not because of Michael and Angie loving one another because nothing would have ever happened between them if Billie was alive as they were never attracted to one another. What left me feeling somewhat uncomfortable was that only 10 months to nearly a year had passed when the romance takes place. And after you’ve been married for over 7 years to the love of your life, one year hardly seems enough to fall in love with someone else. So I feel very conflicted about this book.

There’s no instant love or get into bed straight away. Angie and Michael’s feelings for one another slowly grow with the more time they spend together. And they both agonise over their feelings because of how much they loved Billie. Angie I really liked as her love for Billie and the love of her god-children was shown throughout the entire book. The kids well being came first, and I loved that her love for the kids felt natural. She tries to ignore how attractive Michael is but the more time she spends with him and the deeper their friendship grows, the harder it becomes to ignore.

Michael agonised most about his attraction to Angie because as far as he was concerned, he thought he would only love Billie for the rest of his life. Michael’s reactions to Angie where he was distant at times was totally understandable. When he starts to notice Angie as a woman and not just a friend, it causes him many nights of frustrations – not only sexually – but emotionally also. As the book went on and they finally acted on their attraction, it was romantic.

But whilst reading I still felt uncomfortable, and I was uncomfortable because of how Angie was telling him that Michael is only human, and that he has to start living again after the death of Angie and that he can’t live a life as a monk for the rest of his life. What she was saying was very true, but it’s only been nearly a year since Billie’s death. And that’s what bothered me throughout the whole novel. Why was a year chosen for the romance to begin? Why not at least two years which for me I would have felt much more comfortable as a reader. One year hardly seems enough time at all.

Another issue I had with the book was how well Eva was dealing with her mother’s death. There were no issues with her. She was the perfect six year old who loved Auntie Angie, and after catching Auntie Angie with Daddy, she had no problems or issues with it. That for me felt as if everything was made perfectly and smoothly for the romance with no obstacles.

I would have enjoyed this book so much if only the time of setting was different. One year left me feeling very uncomfortable as a reader for Angie and Michael to fall in love with another. And because of that, I was left unsatisfied as a reader.

I give Within Reach a C.

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By Lou

One thing that Lou loves most is her HEA in romances.

4 replies on “Review: Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry”

Thanks for the review. I have no idea if I think a year is long enough, or too short to start living and loving again. I have no personal experience with this. But yes, it sounds so very short, a year is gone so fast nowadays.

I have no personal experience also, but it made me feel uncomfortable whilst reading which made me enjoy the book less.

I didn’t have an issue with the timeline, especially as the starting point was that Michael was clearly not coping and needed help. Maybe there could have been a longer gap from there to the attraction I guess but it felt organic enough to me. I thought that Michael was just so alone that his attraction was easy for me to understand. One of the things I noted about the book was that Michael and Angie didn’t seem to have many other close friends, especially Michael. He was almost totally reliant on Angie for support. While this could be realistic, it seemed sad to me and created a few problems with the balance in their relationship I feel.
My biggest thing with the book was that I was a bit worried Angie would one day feel like the consolation prize and that didn’t seem to be addressed in the book. But I liked it better than you did. Angsty suits me though. 🙂

I haven’t read the book and I hate to say it, but based on that dull cover, I wouldn’t buy it.

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