Published: August 7, 2012 (Harlequin)
Format: Egalley from publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)
Summary: 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.
My Review: Within Reach is one of my favorite books that I've read recently. I absolutely loved pretty much every single thing about it. I recently reviewed another Mayberry book (Her Best Worst Mistake), and I mentioned how I associate Mayberry with amazing friends-to-lovers stories. This book? Exemplified that perfectly, even though there was a whole other level to it.
Angie was the long-time best friend of Billie. Michael was Billie's husband. Angie and Michael were friends, but Billie was the connecting link. They never would have even contemplated each other as anything other than wife's-best-friend and best-friend's-husband. Then Billie died unexpectedly. And everything changed. After Billie's death, the book jumped ahead 10 months. Even after this time period, Michael was still deeply immersed in his half-life of mourning, and his children were suffering from it, as was he. After arriving back from a short trip to New York with fresh perspective, Angie saw how much he was struggling. She told Michael some hard things he needed to hear, and she began helping him out more than she had before. Then circumstances changed again, and Angie began spending significantly more time with both Michael and the two children.
The dynamic between Angie and Michael shifted slowly and never felt unnatural, although they both fought the attraction. The romance was slow-building, intense, beautiful, and breath-taking. Literally. The first time they kissed, I'm pretty sure I didn't breathe for about 30 seconds. Mayberry has this way of writing scenes - particularly kissing/love scenes - that just punch you right in the gut. In a good way. If that makes any sense at all. Obviously, this book was not light on the angst. I didn't cry as much as I anticipated, though, even though it was a very emotional at times.
Perhaps the thing I loved most about this book was how real I felt the relationship was. I habitually read romance. If I'm being honest, probably 98% of the books I read at least have a strong romantic element in them, even if it's not the main plot. I read about fictional relationships on a daily basis. I do occasionally get the feeling that the couple would never actually make it if the book was reality, but it's very rare. However, it's also rare that I get the overwhelming sense that the couple would absolutely make it in the real world. I got that feeling in this book. Michael and Angie had a lot of issues to work out before they could ever really be together - okay, really only one issue, but it was a doozie - but once it was resolved, I was absolutely 100% convinced of their love for each other, their compatibility, and their ability to come together couple and as a family.
Once I picked up Within Reach, I did not want to set it back down again. Ever. It was an emotional - and, let's face it, hormonal, because yowza did this book have some sexual tension going on - roller coaster, but I loved every single second. (Except the part where they watched Bridesmaids with an almost-3-year-old boy. Maybe it's just me, but I found that inappropriate and pointless. Of course, I didn't like that movie at all, so.) But aside from that moment, there was really nothing I disliked about this book. The writing was solid, the children believably portrayed, the relationship believable and moving. If you love a wonderful romance and don't have an aversion to having your heart wrenched a time or two, this is the book for you. Look out for that gorgeous cover (seriously, haters to the left, it's so pretty! And not a mullet in sight!) when it hits the stores August 7.
It wasn’t much, as far as strategies went. In fact it felt a little as thought she was heading off to fight a dragon with a toothpick as her weapon.
He felt as though the sun was shining on his face for the first time in days, simply because she was standing in front [of] him, because he could smell her perfume and hear her voice and breathe the same air as her.
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