Aimee is sitting at her fiance James' funeral on the day they should have been getting married. Gutted by the death of the man she met at the age of twelve and had loved for nearly that long, she can't begin to imagine a life without him. And when a stranger approaches her at the funeral to tell her that James is alive, that he did not disappear and drown on his fishing trip in Mexico, she can't help but wonder what the truth is. Already reeling from the blow of James' death, Aimee receives further bad news when her parents tell her they've had to sell the restaurant where she is the sous chef. Suddenly nothing in her life is as she expected it to be and she must create an entirely new life of her own on her own. Even as she holds onto her memories of her life with James, she finds the courage to open a coffee shop cafe. But to start to think about Ian, an amazing photographer, as more than a friend, even if she is attracted to him, is a bridge too far. Plus there's the niggling idea, fed by a painting on a postcard from a Mexican art gallery, that James could still be alive. Aimee has to decide whether to finally move forward or to keep holding onto the past.
It is hard not to feel sorry for Aimee. She's lost so much. Her grieving is very definitely stuck at the denial stage and Lonsdale has done a nice job showing that while she's outwardly moving on, she is unable to do so emotionally. The first person narration allows the reader to feel alongside Aimee and to understand her reasoning when she has to make difficult decisions. We can feel her indecision about what comes next. The flashbacks to her pre-teen and teen years flesh out her relationship with James so it is clear not only the depth of what she's lost but also the things that she has never understood, especially about the Donato family, despite her long closeness with James. This first person perspective highlights some inconsistencies though, chief among which is Aimee's lack of urgency in following up on her gut feeling about James being alive. The novel's pacing is somewhat uneven, beginning very slowly as Aimee works through her grief but then with the final third of the book offering up all of the action and the answers that Aimee has been searching for. Some of these answers introduce pretty big, troubling, heretofore unexplored bombshells. Problems aside, the novel is a quick and easy read and will keep you turning the pages to find out the resolution. For people who enjoy reading about love, the pain and healing of letting go, and building a new life, this might just fit the bill.
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Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.