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I love reading and as of now that is fiction only. Love all genres except horror and for the past few years, been gorging on romance. Thrillers are my first love and add some romance to it then all the more better.
Within Reach (Harlequin Super Romance) - Sarah Mayberry This was an excellent book about grief, about friendship and how the people left behind deal with it. When the book opens Angie is celebrating her best friend Billie's birthday with her two kids and husband and that happy picture is gone the same day, Billie dead of a heart defect.
It is ten months later then and when Angie visits the house the picture is very different, there is no joy and instead there is dust and Michael, who took time off work to help his kids and who seems to walk through a fog because his wife of six years is dead and at the age of 35 he is a widower with two kids. He isn't dealing with things well and it takes Angie to wake him up, Angie who has been a rock these past few months, Angie who also lost her best friend who was more like a sister. He doesn't take it that well when she tells him that maybe he needs to go back to work, that may help him move forward but when his daughter tells him about the things he has forgotten to do for her, he wakes up because he needs to move on for his kids.

I felt Michael's grief was depicted extremely well in the book. He struggles to function at first, he looks after his kids and that is all but going back to work gives him something else to do. His identity was tied so closely with being a husband and father and now half of it is gone. He thinks that he will spend his life being a father so it is a shock to him when he has a sex dream and it fills him with disgust and guilt.

Angie was a friend to Michael but they were never close, in her mind he was always Billie's husband and never a hunk so when the first time she notices him it fills her with horror and disgust. She tries to draw away but Michael notices something is wrong and she vows to keep her thoughts to herself. It takes longer for Michael to notice her in a sexual way and when he does, he lashes out, he is not ready for what he is feeling. What is made very clear from the start in this book was that both of them had never had any untoward feelings before and they both loved Billie.

They do acknowledge their new feelings and vow not to act on them because in their minds it is a betrayal and then they do act on them and the guilt does rise up. They both can't stop getting involved but their is an understanding between them. Angie fits into their lives, the kids love her and Michael loves having her around but when Angie comes to see she has fallen for him she draws away which makes Michael see that things between them has been one sided with her giving and giving and Michael just taking. He isn't ready for anything but somehow without him knowing love snuck in, it wasn't something they both wanted and were ready for.

I found this book emotional as hell, the way their friendship, grief and gradual love was depicted was amazing. The moment at the cemetery when his daughter is talking to her mother, was so emotional. I know some people may feel Angie was a second choice but she wasn't. Michael never saw her coming so it takes him a while to see what was under his nose all along those long grief filled months. I never found the relationship dirty or taboo but these two had a lot to overcome because they felt that.