*I received a free copy of On Second Thought from Harlequin HQN via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Published by Harlequin HQN on 31 January 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Reading Challenges: 2017 New Release Challenge
Ainsley O’Leary is so ready to get married—she’s even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn’t anticipate is being blindsided by a breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her older half sister, Kate, who’s struggling with a sudden loss of her own.
Kate’s always been the poised, self-assured sister, but becoming a newlywed—and a widow—in the space of four months overwhelms her. Though the sisters were never close, she starts to confide in Ainsley, especially when she learns her late husband was keeping a secret from her.
Despite the murky blended-family dynamic that’s always separated them, Ainsley's and Kate’s heartaches bind their summer together when they come to terms with the inevitable imperfection of relationships and family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.
On Second Thought is one of the most tender and hopeful stories I have read. It’s character-driven by women of incredible strength.
Ainsley and Kate become close as sisters after they both ended up single once more, and On Second Thought follows them both in the aftermath of the shock they received. Kate tragically and unexpectedly became a widow after only four months of marriage. And soon after, Ainsley’s live-in boyfriend of eleven years left her start over and find himself again. I just felt so much tenderness while I read their story, and I loved being inside their head, understanding their vulnerabilities and their wants and needs.
Kate had gotten over searching for a husband at thirty-eight years old, and then she met Nathan. And On Second Thought did show me some of their getting to know each other, and marrying after a quite short time. Ainsley had been with Eric since college, and they had always planned on getting married and having children.
I can’t find a single thing I didn’t enjoy with On Second Thought. Thank goodness, I haven’t had to live through Kate’s grief, but I still found it to be very well done. The various family relationships as well as the larger circle of people involved in hers and Ainsley’s lives were realistic as well. The best girlfriend who got mad when Kate met a guy and got married. The hot firefighter friend. The inlaws. The parents. The siblings. I just found everything to be so relatable, and I couldn’t doubt any one character’s reactions or actions.
On Second Thought is written in dual point of view from Ainsley and Kate’s perspectives. And while I felt closer to Kate, I loved Ainsley as well. The first person narration worked very well for me, too, and I was mesmerised by the whole story. And while it could have become a wallowing in grief narrative where only sadness and despair was part of it, that wasn’t what happened at all. Yes, there was intense grief, but there was so much hope and love, too. And that’s what both Kate and Ainsley held on to in order to move forward and look towards the future.
If I had known how things would pay out on the evening of April sixth, I would’ve brought my A-game that morning. I would’ve set my alarm early so Nathan and I could make love. We’d only been married for four months, so that wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. I would’ve brushed my teeth first and my hair.
The last time I drank wine was the night my husband died. The wine soured in my mouth, and I had to force myself to swallow. If wine was ruined, Nathan’s death would really be a tragedy. Right? Get that? Gallows humor. Ha.
“I felt like I was cheating on him,” I went on. “Because I’d had a nice day. Had dinner with a friend, who’s a good-looking guy.”
“So no nice day for the widow. And you have to ditch all your good-looking friends. Got it.”