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The Five Stages of Falling in Love

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The Five Stages of Falling in Love is a Contemporary Romance.
Elizabeth Carlson is living in the pits of hell- also known as grief.

Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady's prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her?

Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days.

When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn't just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she's capable of ever giving again.

As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there's more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there's more to life than death.

305 pages, ebook

First published January 27, 2015

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About the author

Rachel Higginson

123 books3,449 followers
Rachel Higginson is the best-selling author of The Five Stages of Falling in Love, Every Wrong Reason, Bet on Us and The Star-Crossed Series.

She was born and raised in Nebraska, and spent her college years traveling the world. She fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, but came back home to marry her high school sweetheart. Now she spends her days writing stories and raising five amazing kids.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,115 reviews
Profile Image for Aestas Book Blog.
1,059 reviews74.9k followers
March 2, 2015

From the moment I heard about this book, I wanted to read it. From the minute I started it, I couldn't put it down. This beautiful story broke my heart, then healed it, and made me truly believe in second chances.

The story is about a woman whose beloved husband Grady, love of her life, and father to their four young children dies of cancer leaving her alone to cope with her overwhelming grief and to single-handedly hold their family together. Six months after his death, a man moves in next door to them who changes her life. Slowly. Patiently. One day at a time, Ben helps her heal and shows her that it's possible to keep living, to find happiness, and even love again without having to forget the past...

The writing drew me right into the story and made me feel like I was right there with Liz every step of the way -- through her grief and healing. And I especially appreciated the slow-building romance. Given the enormity of the tragedy she'd faced, Liz had no intentions of ever moving on. She'd had her great love and even though Grady was no longer living, she still loved him with all her heart and soul. She lived for her children, but wasn't interested in ever moving on. Ben sensed that. He could see where she was at and even though he wanted to be with her from very early on, he never ever pushed her into anything she wasn't ready for. He respected her love for Grady, he understood her need for time and space, he never tried to act like a replacement, and was eternally patient with her as she moved through the five stages of grief. But he was there. Always there. It was truly heart-warming to see this man who was so deeply understanding and compassionate and who wanted to love her be willing to wait for her to be ready to love him back. The progression of their relationship felt incredibly realistic and even though it naturally made the book move at a slower pace, I felt it was perfect for this story.

The heart-wrenching prologue made me immediately fall in love with the book as my eyes filled with tears. By giving us this introduction into the final moments between Grady and Liz, it gave us a connection to her loss and an understanding of just how much he meant to her. He was her everything.

“This was our grief and pain at our deepest. This was our hearts and souls scraped raw. This was desperation so intense I felt it in my bones, in the broken places of my soul. And that my children shared this grief made it so much worse.”

When we moved forward six months, the story took the time to connect us to her life and to her children. With four kids under the age of 8, they were all coping differently and she was struggling to try to fill the roles of both parents for them all while living in a house brimming with memories of the man she loved.

“The cold hard truth was that I wasn’t enough. I had never been enough. My marriage was a partnership built on mutual love and shared responsibility… Now I felt drowned in memories of him. His ghost haunted me from every room, and lingered over each piece of furniture."

“How could I get through to my little girl who had lost her hero?"

I felt this family's pain. Their loss was profound and devastating and irreversible. I can't even count how many times I teared up.

“It didn’t seem fair that I kept living while Grady didn’t. It didn’t seem possible. I kept waiting for Grady to come back. I kept waiting for him to walk in the door and wrap me in his arms and promise me that everything would be alright now. I couldn’t let him go… I loved him too much.”

The last thing she ever honestly expected would be to find love again. When Ben moved in next door, she (at first begrudgingly) accepted his friendship but never desired or expected more. But he was just there. Always. Helping her out unexpectedly. In many ways saving her. Listening. Giving her precious moments of peace. Just being there.

“Don’t ever be sorry… You can cry on me anytime you need to.”

“Why are you so nice to me? You barely know me.”

A soft smile played on his lips, “But I like what I know so far. And I’m excited for what else there is to find out.”

I felt like this wasn't just a story, it was more of an experience if that makes sense. Some sections were slower than others, some more heart wrenching, some more romantic, some sections where you weren't sure where it was headed next, others where you could feel it building towards a goal. But that's a mirror of life itself. I loved that Liz and Ben never rushed into anything. I absolutely understood her hesitation at starting a new relationship and I admired his patience and understanding.

“Before I could greet him, he stepped through the open door and crushed me in a hug... I always expected him to treat me as though I were fragile… but he never did. He pushed me beyond being delicate, into a place I had never thought I would go again. He made me strong. He demanded that I be anything but weak and broken.”

Ben was honestly a dream. Kind, understanding, communicative, generous with his time and his heart. The way he was there for her was truly beautiful. He wasn't intimidated by her grief or her love of Grady. He never tried to compete with or replace that. He just offered her more. He knew was he was getting into and understood that falling for a grieving widow of a beloved husband with four children wasn't a conventional romance. But it was a responsibility and journey he took on with pride and care.

There were some moments with her and Ben and the kids that were so profound, that I just gasped out loud and tears fell. You'll know what I mean when you get to 65%. Just wow!

“I can’t take anymore heartbreak,” I confessed on a broken whisper.

“Then it’s a good thing I’m not going to break your heart."

This story is so much more than a romance. It's a story of love, loss, life, death, family bonds, precious memories, and second chances. But more than anything, its a story of healing. I highly recommend it!

“That’s all I’m asking. Live in this moment with me and we’ll get to the next moment together."

Rating: 4.5 stars. Standalone.

PS: I honestly can't decide between marking 4 or 5 stars on here. Goodreads really needs a real 4.5 star mark because that's where this book sat for me :)

For more of my reviews, book news and updates:
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Profile Image for ✦❋Arianna✦❋.
790 reviews2,529 followers
October 17, 2015
4.5 Stars!!


“The Five Stages of Falling in Love” is a gut wrenching story about loss, grief, second chances at love and life and learning to move on. I loved this story, it moved me to tears; it’s a sad, almost depressing story, but it's also a story that made me smile. The story is beautifully written in a very respectful way and from the emotional prologue I knew this story it will be different and so special to me.

“Not every story has a happy ending. Some only hold a happy beginning.”

Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Carlson’s life was as perfect as a life can be. With a great home, a successful business, four beautiful children and a loving, wonderful husband she never expected her life to be shattered so much. Everything changes for Liz’s family when she loses her husband to cancer. Overwhelmed by her pain, Liz doesn’t know how to move on, how to live again, how to be a mother to her four young children.

“The cold hard truth was that I wasn’t enough. I had never been enough. My marriage was a partnership built on mutual love and shared responsibility. The house had run as smoothly as the chaos of four little ones would allow, but we ran it together.”

Grief and depression rules most of her moods. Everything is harder now without her husband, Grady.


Time passes and Liz still struggles with her new reality. She still misses Grady and she tries hard to be both mother and father for her children. Liz meets Ben, a mid-thirties handsome lawyer who purchases the house next doors to hers. Ben is a good neighbor and eventually be becomes a good friend for Liz. He helps her with her house and occasionally with her children and slowly makes her realize that it’s ok to accept help.

Time passes and Ben starts to want more with Liz. He knows Liz suffered a great loss and he’s ready to do anything for her and also for her children, he's ready to wait for her. With her family and Ben’s help, Liz learns to live again and to realize that she’s capable to love again.


Like I mentioned, this story moved me profoundly. I never knew such a great loss like Liz experienced, but my heart broke for her and for her four children. Liz’s emotional journey was sad, her emotions felt real and honestly, sometimes like I mentioned above everything was a little depressing to read about it. The prologue was heartbreaking and for sure will grip you by the heart and hit you straight in the feels.
Liz was a character I sympathize with so damn much. “Watching” her working her way through the five stages of grief was fantastic as much as it was gut wrenching simply because her character was inspiring.

There were so many times when I wanted to give her a hug, to tell her to move on, that everything will be alright and I’m so glad she found the strength to do it, to find the strength to be the same wonderful mother she was until Grady’s death. Her struggle to get involved with Ben and to accept that she has feelings for him felt real and I totally understood her hesitation.

Ben was an amazing character. This man has all my admiration. He was simply perfect. If at first he’s reluctant to get close to Liz and her children, after spending some time with them he’s bewitched by all of them. He becomes not only Liz’s friend, but Liz’s children friend as well. With Liz he was from the beginning the ‘perfect’ friend. He was willing to help her with anything, to do anything for her. He was attentive, supportive, caring and so, so patient. And I loved him for that. But most of all I loved him because he accepted that Grady was Liz’s first love and because he never tried to replaced him. The tenderness and the interactions between Ben and Liz’s kids melt my heart. Even if all his life was a bachelor, he knew how to interact with the four kids. He fell for them as much as he fell for Liz.
Ben and Liz’s romantic relationship progressed naturally. Nothing felt rushed and honestly I never judged Liz for falling for Ben simply because I knew Brady will always be in her heart no matter what.

As for the supportive characters – I loved them all. Liz’s parents, her sister, her brother and mother in law and of course the four young children were fantastic.

The writing was flawless and emotive and all I can say is that I’m looking forward to read more adult contemporary novels by this author.

Profile Image for Corina.
768 reviews2,185 followers
March 7, 2020
I was in the mood to reread one of my favorite books. Might update review afterwards. But the starring won't change - this is definitely a 5 star book for me.


This is such a beautiful and emotional story.

The novel is all about grief, but also healing, forgiving and letting go. It's about finding love when you least expect it. About getting a break to breath again.

It's a true feel good novel. Even though I expected a crushing blow every time I turned a page, the author kept the hope and love afloat and in the foreground.

Ben, the hero, was a wonderful hero, he supported Liz in any way she needed him, with understanding, friendship, and patience. It was so touching the way he knew her almost better than Liz knew herself. Ben was the epitome of awesomeness, never pushy and exactly what Liz needed to let go and start living again. A DREAM MAN!!!

Liz went through all five stages of grief, she went through hard times and good times. A mother of four kids, she never thought getting a second chance in love would be in her cards. Never expected it actually. So, Ben was most of all, fate, and just meant to be.

They both clicked. Found in each other what the other needed. It was just heart-warming to see them come together, slowly, but steady.

I think I've read this book 3-4 times so far. It always amazes me how well it's written. And how thoughtful, and touching the author tackled such an emotional and heartfelt topic. I never want to put it down. I love it, and it touches my heart in all the right places.
Profile Image for Jennifer Kyle.
2,413 reviews4,661 followers
August 3, 2015
4.5 Stars


Elizabeth and Grady Carlson had it all. A beautiful home, a family business, four gorgeous children and a love that some may deem is only found in story books. The first chapter hits hard as Elizabeth and the children lose Grady to an illness and their grief is insurmountable.

“This was our grief and pain at our deepest. This was our hearts and souls scraped raw. This was desperation so intense I felt it in my bones, in the broken places of my soul. And that my children shared this grief made it so much worse.”

Elizabeth struggles through her day wondering how she will ever be able to get herself and her kids back on track. Elizabeth has a wonderful sister she was sweet, funny and always there for her. When one of her Elizabeth’s brood goes for a swim in the new neighbor’s yard, she meets the handsome Ben Tyler.

Ben Tyler is a MAGNIFICIENT character and brought Elizabeth smiles, help and friendship. Every time he entered the scene I was giddy and although Elizabeth struggles with grief and her developing feelings for Ben. The woman would be certifiable insane to resist him!

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Overall, this was a well written story of grief and making room in your heart to love another. The author wrote the heroine’s four children with realism and charm. The supporting characters were an added pleasure as well. I only have two issues if you may about this book - Elizabeth cried entirely too much for my tastes and the ending was written as author telling us the future instead of enjoying the couple speaking and sharing their feelings and thoughts. Still this story was well worth the read and I would recommend it to friends and wish I could send a Ben to meet each every heartbroken widow.
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,288 reviews3,232 followers
November 6, 2018
It starts out strong and understandably the emotions are high, but by Chapter eight I realised being in Elizabeth's head was giving me a migraine.... aaaand that's a hard DNF. Sorry.
Profile Image for Brandi.
634 reviews1,275 followers
August 22, 2015

An emotional story about loss, grief, and moving on. This story broke my heart, and delicately put it back together. And Ben was simply perfection. I will try to review properly soon - the weekends are always too busy! x
Profile Image for Mo.
1,363 reviews2 followers
February 6, 2015
This one popped up on my feed today and the reviews sort of intrigued me. I wasn't looking for a sad, depressing read and to be honest it wasn't all THAT sad and depressing. Yes, there are some sad times, yes, it's heartbreaking what happens but it did not overshadow the book for me. The writing was poetic and I loved taking the journey with Liz and Ben. Now, you know me, I love my alpha asshole males BUT you know, sometimes the NICE guy deserves a chance. And Ben was nice, really nice. I loved him. He was patient, kind, sweet, handsome. What's not to like....

But can there still be life in death?

Liz was stubborn. She knew how wonderful Ben was but felt she was betraying Grady if she let herself love him. She kinda annoyed me towards the end. Then again, maybe if I had been in her situation I would have felt the same.

Ben wanted a fairytale and I had been living in a nightmare.

I loved how she was an ordinary Mom, got stressed, shouted at them, forgot to do the grocery shopping, forgot to put out the garbage... and she didn't have perfect kids. They were normal too. And she was terrible at maths (math) - I could so relate to that!!

Our love happened as the miles passed and we felt a little less lost. It happened as the road became clearer and less lonely. He came in like a sigh, a soft breath of hope.

There is one scene towards the end that is truly heartbreaking. I was doing fine with the book until then.

Please forgive me ...

This book was a nice little gem.

Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,049 followers
August 9, 2016

"Sometimes love didn’t make sense. And that was okay. It was far better to know love and accept love than try to understand it."

I have read several stories about two people falling in love even if one or at times, both are suffering from a fatal disease no other than cancer. This isn’t one of those books.

This is about Liz who in her early 30’s has ever known and loved only one man, Grady, a very wonderful man who is everything to her and her four children but who has to permanently leave his family because of cancer. How Liz had to grieve, try to move on, be both parents to her four very young children is the heart of the story.

There were times I felt like her pain is already too much, but then how would I know if I haven't experienced anything like it? I'll probably act out worse so I fervently pray to be saved from that kind of heartbreak.

What makes this story very powerfully emotional to me is the little things the characters inevitably had to go through. So many times my heart grieved with them especially with the children as they felt the weight of their father’s absence and Liz, despite the urge to lock herself in her room to just mourn for her husband couldn’t do that because she has to be there for her children.

The story’s twist begins with the entrance of a new neighbor, the most eligible bachelor in town. How he shall bring a difference to the life of the bereaved family of Grady is something you should look forward to.^^

Although grief is the prevailing tone in the story, I love the interesting writing style colored with humor and sarcasm that induced a lot of lol moments and without such I would have cursed this book for making me UGLY CRY so many times when I wasn’t really prepared to do so.

I would have criticized the seemingly deceptive title of the book but as it turns out, it truly makes perfect sense because the stages you go through when someone you love leaves you are the same things you go through when you fall in love.^^

This is a powerful, emotional story I highly recommend to anyone whose emotions are fully equipped to take on a heart-wrenching but adorably inspiring story.
Profile Image for ♥Sharon♥.
971 reviews142 followers
April 7, 2015
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This book hasn’t been sitting on my TBR for too long. A little bit ago I read my sweet friend Mo's review and the other day I was looking for something a little different. This book fit my mood perfectly.

I expected some sadness and heartbreak and hoped for happiness. I got all that and so much more. The 5 Stages of Falling in Love was an emotional read for me. But it was also a heartwarming and tender story too.

My tears started early on. The Prologue broke my heart. Within it we get Elizabeth and Grady’s story. The love they shared, the life they built and the heartache they experienced.

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Liz had lost the love of her life. The man she was supposed to spend a life time with and the father to her three amazing children. She was hanging on to her life and her family by a thread. She was drowning in her grief but she was doing the best that she could.

When Liz meets Ben she doesn’t spend any time analyzing what is going on around her. She just knows he is offering her friendship, kindness and moments of calmness. All these things she desperately needed. But when intimate thoughts and feelings started to creep into her mind she resisted them with everything she had. It wasn’t right. She wasn’t supposed to have these feelings again.

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Liz needed to allow herself to feel again. She needed to find that light within herself. The anger she was feeling was eating away at whatever little bit of happiness she had. She had to realize that she would always have her memories of Grady but it was time she made room for new ones.

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Ben was a pretty amazing guy. He was a giver and a lover. He didn’t hide behind the feelings he had for Liz and I loved that he wanted her so badly and was going to take whatever she would give him. I adored his relationship with her children too. He was so god damn sweet. And the stolen moments he had with Liz were pretty sensual if you ask me. ❤

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Little by little the hurt and loneliness that had filled Liz’s heart was being replaced with happiness and love again.

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I am so happy I decided to read this book. It was my first book by this author and I really enjoyed her writing style. As Mo said, it was a little gem. Don’t let the sadness dissuade you from reading it either because the reward you get at the end of the book is so worth every single tear.
Profile Image for Mali Mor ❤️ The Romantic Blogger.
433 reviews541 followers
December 27, 2021


Elizabeth's husband for the past eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, has died of cancer. 💔
Although Grady's chances were not high, Liz was always hopeful that he would be able to overcome the disease, which is why dealing with his death is so hard. 😭
Six months later, she tries to stabilize her broken life and be the mother her children need - but it feels like an impossible task... she drowns in grief and pain, the children are losing control and the house is falling apart.🖤

‏📚 “𝗡𝗼𝘁 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝗵𝗮𝗽𝗽𝘆 𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴. 𝗦𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗵𝗼𝗹𝗱 𝗮 𝗵𝗮𝗽𝗽𝘆 𝗯𝗲𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴. ” 📚

When Ben Tyler, a handsome lawyer with a heart of gold moves into the house next door, she is curious about him, but she does not have time to meet new friends or get unwanted help... but without having to ask, Ben gives her both. 😭
But Ben does not just want to help her with the overflowing garbage or clear the entrance from snow or help her children with homework - Ben wants more. More than Liz can give to a man again... 💔
As Liz goes through the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) will she be able to understand that there is more to life than just death? 💣💥

‏📚 “𝗪𝗲 𝗱𝗼 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗶𝗺𝗶𝘁 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝘄𝗲 𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗲. 𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘁𝘀 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗿𝗼𝗼𝗺 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝘀 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝘀 𝘄𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗲𝘁 𝗶𝗻. ” 📚

The book is about a painful subject, writen from Liz's point of view - dealing with loss and the decision to move on. 🖤
It's different, it does not have an angry alpha male or crazy sex scenes, but it has a lot of depth. 💔
I must point out that the chemistry and attraction was so strong from the start, that I was expecting a crazy explosion when they finally got together - so I was a little disappointed that the sex scene was a bit restrained 🤷‍♀️ (or maybe the last books I read were extra erotic! 😂)
So while it is a *romantic* and not an erotic romance book, it's special and moving... I even almost shed a tear. 😱

‏📚 "𝗠𝗮𝘆𝗯𝗲 𝗚𝗿𝗮𝗱𝘆 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗯𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝘀, 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗕𝗲𝗻 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗴𝗲𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗜 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝘆𝗲𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲." 📚

‏I listened to the audio version (which was amazing)


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💕 לקריאת הסקירה בעברית, כנסו לבלוג: https://books-romance.com/ 💕
Profile Image for [~Ami~]♥Sexy Dexy♥ .
501 reviews454 followers
February 1, 2015
3 stars

Firstly, this cover is gorgeous! Unfortunately it was just too sad and depressing for my taste. Liz was a mess for the majority of the book and I could feel the struggle she was going through. Ben was so patient and understanding. I liked how their relationship developed over time. It was ok just not the type of book I enjoy.

Recommend if you enjoy books with
Emotions and the feels
Dealing with grief
Realistic relationship
Sweet guy

ARC provided by NetGalley
Profile Image for Brenna.
577 reviews449 followers
February 2, 2015
The Five Stages of Falling in Love is an incredible story about a woman’s tragic loss and learning to live and love again. The story is told so realistically, breaking me down then building me up over and over again. I loved every heart wrenching moment of it!

Beginning with the prologue, I just knew this book was going to hurt. We are introduced to Liz and her dying husband, Grady in one of their last moments together sharing words of love, promises, and a final dance. In the span of just a few pages I could feel the depth of their commitment to each other and fell a little bit in love with Grady.
“You are the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me, Lizzy.”

The story picks up six months after Grady’s death and follows Liz through the five stages of grief after losing the love of her life. Liz is left to take care of her four children alone. Every day is a struggle to get out of bed and just face the day. Not only is Liz dealing with her own grief, but she’s doing her best to be there for her children, some of which are too young to even understand that their dad isn’t coming back. I honestly couldn’t imagine being in Liz’s shoes. Her pain is so palpable and also her sense of guilt that she isn’t doing enough for her babies, that she’s failing them. Some of the moments between her and her kids were truly heartbreaking and had me crying instantly.
“It’s okay to be sad, Mommy,” Lucy promised on a know-it-all whisper. “But don’t be sad all day. He only went on vacation. He wouldn’t leave us forever. He loves us too much.”

Making things harder is the rebellious streak one of her kids is on. This leads Liz to meeting her new neighbor in a rather unconventional way, while swimming half clothed in his pool chasing after her six-year-old first thing in the morning. LOL!
“You look hungry,” a deep masculine voice announced from above me.
I whipped my head around to find an incredibly tall man standing by my discarded pajama pants holding two beach towels and a box of Pop-Tarts in one arm, while he munched casually on said Pop-Tarts with the other.
“I look hungry?” I screeched in hysterical anger.
His eyes flickered down at me for just a second, “No, you look mad.” He pointed at Abby, who had come to a stop next to me, treading water again with her short child-sized limbs waving wildly in the water.
“She looks hungry.” With a mouth full of food he grinned at me, and looked back at Abby. “Want a Pop-Tart? They’re brown sugar.”

I loved everything about how Liz and Ben meet. It’s so perfect for the story, showing such a desperate, infuriating moment in Liz’s life and showcases Ben’s easygoing, flirty personality. From the moment they meet Liz is annoyed by him and thinks he’s a smug, nosy bachelor that she wants nothing to do with, but of course that doesn’t last long.
Ben had been my savior.
Ben had been breath back in my lungs. Beats back in my heart. Blood back in my veins.
Ben had been found instead of lost. Home instead of wandering. Life instead of death.

As time passes, Ben proves over and over again what a great guy he is and that he is someone she and the kids can count on as a neighbor and as a friend. He becomes a permanent fixture in all of their lives. It’s painfully obvious to everyone but Liz that Ben has feelings for her and I loved watching the tension build between them even though Liz doesn’t quite understand what’s happening.
“What did I miss?”
“They met Ben,” I sniffed.
“Oh, so you saw how in love with her he is and how hard she’s trying to deny her feelings for him.”
“Emma! None of that is true!”
“Emma!” my mom gasped.
“What? Did you meet him? He’s so obvious!”
“He isn’t in love with me. Stop.”
Emma rolled her big eyes. “He’s one of my closest friends, Liz. I think I would know.”
“No, he’s one of
my closest friends, I think I would know.”
Emma snorted. “Don’t tell him that. I doubt he’d appreciate the fact that he’s been friend-zoned.”

Liz is so blinded by her grief and denial that the thought of loving someone other than Grady is unfathomable to her. She spends a lot of time struggling internally with the guilty feelings she has and I could really understand that. Ben is just incredible the whole time. He is the most patient man in the world but still pushes Liz out of her comfort zone a bit and is a shameless flirt. He’s so giving and selfless and even though he should be running in the other direction, he is supportive. He never shies away from Liz when she breaks down in front of him or talks about how much she loves Grady. He’s understanding and just simply perfect (without being too perfect).
“I’m going to be gentle with you, Liz. We’re going to treat this delicately. I’m going to let this happen slowly, let us fall slowly. But I am not asking too much of you.”
“This will never work!” I snapped at him. “We’re doomed from the start. I’m in love with another man, Ben! A man you will never be able to compete with because he’s dead!”
Ben’s hands reached up to cup my face. His thumbs rubbed over my cheeks, wiping away tears I hadn’t realized I’d started to shed. “I don’t want to compete with Grady,” he murmured. “And I don’t ever expect you to stop loving him. But whether you want to admit it or not, we’ve started something great. You don’t have to prove to me that you have room for two men in your heart. You’ve already made room. I think it’s time you realized that so we can move forward.”

This book paints a painfully realistic picture of a woman struggling to live again after such a heartbreaking death. I would caution people going into this thinking it’s mainly a love story, because while there is one there, it’s really more Liz’s story and her journey through a horrible time in her life. It deals with a lot of heavy emotions and is depressing and completely heartbreaking at times. But then there are these moments of happiness with her kids and friendship and sexual tension with Ben that bring so much light and life into the story.
This is my story. I’d already met my soul mate, fallen in love with him and lived our happily ever after. This story is not about me falling in love. This story is about me learning to live again after love left my life.

I ended up reading this book in a day and had such a hard time putting it down for even a minute. I was incredibly invested in the characters and wanted so badly for them all to be happy. The writing is absolutely beautiful and so emotive. I had close to 140 highlighted quotes and passages, so many profound moments that I know I’ll want to refer back to at some point. I am kind of in awe of how real everything felt. Obviously I haven’t lost my husband or had to raise children on my own so I can’t say I know how that feels, but I can’t imagine it being written more genuinely and respectfully. The way everything progresses is just perfect. This book has definitely made me a forever fan of Rachel Higginson and I can’t wait for more of her adult works!
“We don’t have to limit how many people we love. Our hearts make room for as many people as we want to let in.”

5 stars.
Profile Image for NMmomof4.
1,548 reviews3,981 followers
July 27, 2017
3.5 Stars

Overall Opinion: I starting this wanting to have a good cry, and it did the trick. I wouldn't say that I ugly cried or sobbed or anything, but it tapped into my emotions for sure. I think it might've hit home a little more because I have four children and they are all ~2 years apart, and I know what that craziness is like -- but there is no way I could imagine how hard it would be to lose my husband!! I would definitely want a Ben in my life! He was a perfect H in my opinion, and he made the story for me! I loved him so much that the h ruined it for me when she did that last push away from him and said some really hurtful things to him (and never addressed or apologized for later)! I felt like their conflict was resolved way too easily, and she didn't grovel at all for what she did. I get it, she was grieving -- but her behavior was just unforgivable in my eyes. I just can't bring myself to rate higher than 3.5 stars because of the h's behavior and the abrupt ending.

Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Liz and Ben's story. Liz lost her husband of ~10 years, and she is struggling with her new reality of being a widowed mom of four. Ben moves in next door and is instantly drawn to Liz and all the craziness that surrounds her. He starts helping her out when he can, and they form a friendship. The friendship turns into more and after a long time, Liz accepts Ben's request for a date. They start dating and fall in love. There is a lot of baggage that Liz has to sort through, as she is still in the process of grieving her late husband...but they get a HEA ending.

POV: This was told in Liz's POV.

Overall Pace of Story: Good until the end. I never skimmed, and I thought it flowed well. The ending was really quick. I felt like we needed to experience some of those happy times instead of going from the resolution of their conflict into directly being told (briefly) about their HEA!! Oh, and FYI -- it ended at 88% on my kindle app. I hate that!!

Instalove: No, they take a while to develop stronger feelings.

H rating: 5 stars. Ben. He was amazing! He was sweet, Saint-like patient, and awesome with the kids. At times, I sadly felt like he deserved better

h rating: 2 stars. Liz. I liked her just fine until about 80ish% where she acted really stupidly and pushed the H away. She ticked me off tbh, and she never really did anything to make it up to him -- and don't we always expect some good grovel from our H's when they mess up like this?!? So I couldn't get past her behavior without feeling like a hypocrite.

Sadness level: Moderate. I cried a few times, but it never turned into an ugly cry.

Push/Pull: Yes

Heat level: Low. More about emotional connection than physical act, and it takes a long time for them to be intimate.

Descriptive sex: No. More like fade to black type scenes, and not that many of them.

Safe sex: N/A (I think there was 1 mention of a condom being used)

OW/OM drama: Yes

Sex scene with OW or OM: No

Cheating: No

Separation: Yes

Possible Triggers: Yes

Closure: This had a really sudden ending with mentions about what their future would be like. I would call it a HEA, but I was really frustrated with the abruptness if it.

How I got it: It was part of my kindle unlimited subscription.

Safety: I'd say that this should be Safe or Safe with Exceptions for most readers depending on personal preferences.
Profile Image for Vishous.
509 reviews561 followers
March 3, 2015
I forgot to mark I read this and I had so much to say how everything went downhill for me, but it has been almost a month so I will keep this short.

I had 5 stages while reading this book:

1. ohoho love the beginning... I have a feeling I will really like this because I <3 sad books and Ben I think I love you....

2. like it...

3. meh... you're ok

4. why am I still reading this and when did it become so boring and frustrating?!?! stop crying whenever you open your mouth woman!

5. thank God, I finally finished it.

Profile Image for Jeannine Allison.
Author 13 books512 followers
August 15, 2017

This was such a beautiful book. I loved the writing and the hero, Ben, had me swooning from beginning to end! But man... it absolutely gutted me. I had to read this in spurts to keep from getting completely pulled under by grief. The author did such a great job of portraying the grief of losing your soulmate. I pray to God I never experience this because even just reading about it slayed me--I couldn't imagine going through it. Even simple things become difficult for Liz has she tries to adjust to live without her soulmate, Grady...
"Everything was just harder now. It didn’t matter what. Putting mascara on felt a thousand times more difficult than it ever had, or getting dressed, or hell, even getting up. I just couldn’t manage the way I used to."
I felt Liz's loss to my bones, and having four children grieving their father certainly didn't help my emotions.
"It’s not fair... it’s not fair that other people have dads and I don’t."

Thankfully Ben shows up and helps pull them (and me) out of it. He isn't an instant cure by any means, and he never tries to replace Grady, but he tries so incredibly hard to help in any way he can and he stands by Liz throughout her grief. Ben is just the right amount of pushy. He doesn't let Liz hide from her feelings but if she needs time to process them, he has no problem giving it to her. He encourages in the best way possible, by giving her exactly what she needs when she needs. I couldn't get over how selfless he was! And I just absolutely loved him...
"Let's see how far left there is to fall."- Ben gently convincing Liz to give him a chance
"We’re just talking. You’re just being you and I’m just being me and we’re just going to have a conversation that will make us both smile. It’s going to be the best part of my day, just like all of our other ones."- Ben getting Liz to relax
"That’s how your mom feels. She loves your dad very, very much. But she also loves me. And even though your dad is gone now, she will never stop loving him. She just also loves me now. We don’t have to limit how many people we love. Our hearts make room for as many people as we want to let in." - Ben trying to explain having two loves to her kids
"Yes, Grady was your great love, but you are mine. And if you would let me, I would be yours too. There isn’t a limit on how much we can love, Liz. You had Grady. Now have me." - Ben still trying to convince her

He honestly made this book for me. Honestly my only problem was that Liz bothered me at times. And I feel really bad saying this because like I mentioned, I have no freaking clue what it's like to lose someone that important, so her reactions were probably completely justified and normal. But there were times when I wish she hadn't pushed Ben away or done so much comparing between Grady and Ben. And not just because I love Ben, but because she was constantly contradicting herself.
"He mattered to me in a way I couldn’t ignore anymore."
This was said around 60% but there are still several instances where she does try to ignore it and when she can't, she pushes him away. There were times when it felt normal and genuine, but others felt a little forced to me (especially after they had been together so long--I think the book spans about a year and a half?) Again, I don't want to put a timeframe on grief and say what's "normal"--there is none, but that one tiny aspect kept this from being a favorite-5-star read for me.

I was still incredibly impressed with how the author handled the subject. I'm definitely that person who wants to believe in one soulmate and so I hate reading about death in books. But every once in a while, I will read one with this trope. I like taking a chance and seeing if an author can convince me that there is more than one, some work and some don't, but I think this one did. It might have been stronger for me if so much of it wasn't focused on Grady, but at the end of the day I felt she loved Ben. And I always love quotes like this...
"Did Daddy send Ben to take care of us?"
My heart took on a frantic rhythm, pounding so loud I could barely hear my own voice when I answered, "Yes."

I mean ^^ I seriously freaking love those thoughts. And, like I mentioned, I really appreciated how Liz came to view her love for Grady and Ben.
"I would never forget Grady. He was my true love. But maybe some people were allowed to have two. Maybe my love story didn’t end with one man, but continued throughout the course of my life. Maybe Grady had been able to love the woman that I was, but Ben would get to love the woman I had yet to become."
"Grady, you are the love of my life. That will never change. Except that because of Ben, my life doesn’t have to end. Maybe he’s the love of my second chance."
This is a heavy book, it may give you butterflies when Ben is around, but the pain far outweighs the good times. I enjoyed it, but you definitely have to be in the right frame of mind, and if you're a person who enjoys the one-and-only soulmate I don't know if this would be for you. It's hard to say that because it was really good and I'd like to recommend it to everyone, but I don't want to make it seem like something it isn't. If you're one of those people, maybe just keep this on the back burner if you ever change your mind :) But if you're one who's looking for a grief-heavy and complex love story, look no further!

Profile Image for Jen.
700 reviews127 followers
December 15, 2016
4.5 Stars!

"Not every story has a happy ending. Some only hold a happy beginning."

Oh Wow! What a heart wrenching story. You definitely need a box of tissues while reading this book. I must be a masochist because I knew this one was going to hurt, but I had to read it. The writing was so beautiful and the story told in such a way that I found myself slipping into the heroine's shoes which added to the hurt sometimes. I found myself not wanting to put this book down, but at times I had to, just for a few moments.

This is Liz Carlson's story about losing the love of her life to cancer. They had four little children when Grady died, but now Liz has to fight her way through the stages of grief. She's not only lost her soulmate, but a part of herself too. How is she supposed to hold everyone together when she can't even hold herself together?

"This was our grief and pain at our deepest. This was our hearts and souls scraped raw. This was desperation so intense I felt it in my bones, in the broken places of my soul."

Getting out of bed everyday was hard enough. But trying to make sure her children get to school on time or have something to eat has been even more challenging. When one of her children decides to go for a swim in the neighbor's pool, Liz is forced to go after her, creating an interesting first impression between them. Ben Tyler is a lawyer who moved next door six months after Liz's husband died. Ben sees Liz struggling and steps in to help. At first she refuses, but soon she learns how to accept help from others.

Ben and Liz's relationship starts out very innocent as neighbors, but over time they form a friendship. I loved watching how gentle Ben was with Liz. She was so caught up in her grief that she never saw their relationship as anything more than friendship. She couldn't bare it when she began to think of Ben in a different way. She felt like it was a betrayal to her husband, but eventually Ben helped her see that it was okay if she moved on.

"Maybe Grady had been able to love the woman that I was, but Ben would get to love the woman I had yet to become."

This was such a beautiful story. It broke my heart and then slowly put it back together. Ben was awesome! Patience of a saint, that man. He was so sweet, but yet didn't hide his feelings from Liz. He was also excellent with her children which is another plus for him. This is a book that I would highly recommend.

Profile Image for Grecia Robles.
1,524 reviews366 followers
March 4, 2021

Este libro es sobre un proceso de duelo que pasa después del felices para siempre cuando pierdes al amor de tu vida a causa de una enfermedad terminal. Pero sobre todo de segundas oportunidades que la vida sigue y que se puede llegar amar a otra persona

Es una historia triste y sobre todo ver el dolor de la protagonista a lo largo de todo el libro como sufría por su marido, como lo extrañaba, necesitaba y como se ahogaba sin él.
Como sentía culpa, que sentía que traicionaba a su esposo al sentir cosas por su vecino y nuevo amigo Ben.
Muchas veces sentía un poco de desesperación con Lyzzie pero a la vez comprendía lo que sentía.

Y sin ninguna duda Ben es lo mejor de este libro, era demasiado lindo, era protector, comprensivo, amoroso, buen amigo y con una paciencia infinita hacia Lyzzie le dio su espacio, su tiempo pero nunca se dio por vencido con ella.

El amor de ellos se dio de manera pausada, a fuego lento al mismo tiempo que ella pasaba por su duelo, iba sanando de la mano de él y dándole la oportunidad al amor. Su amor tal vez no fue arrollador a primera instancia pero llegó a ser profundo,

Una de las cosas que más me gusto de este libro fueron los niños fue muy triste ver que también pasaban por su duelo. Y me gustaron mucho las escenas con Ben y su interacción como lo aceptaron y lo llegaron amar y necesitar en sus vidas.

Me hubiera gustado un epílogo siempre amo los epílogos.
Profile Image for Arini.
857 reviews1,766 followers
May 2, 2023
This was terribly sad and depressing. It definitely made me emotional and teary eyed, but it didn’t hit home quite the way I wanted it to. I can see why it has such a high average rating on Goodreads, but what I’m about to explain is just my very biased and personal take on this book. I’m not exactly hating on it. I just didn’t love it as much as everyone else does.

This book is too short. Hence, I felt like the characters were moving forward too fast even though in reality their relationship was obviously not an insta love. They start off as friends, and they don’t even go on a date until a little more than halfway through the book. I guess it’s just the author’s storytelling that made it feel (to me) like the plot unraveled too quickly. Not to mention, it ended rather abruptly.

Relationship/Heat Level
This book is more about emotional connection than physical attraction. It takes the characters a long time to be intimate with one another. Even then, the book doesn’t have descriptive sex scenes. It’s more like an implied one where the characters take off all their clothes before the screen goes black. I’m not exactly complaining about this although I did expect the book to have more heat than this.

The hero is incredibly perfect. He’s very patient and understanding. The heroine, on the other hand, is a bit inconsistent and annoying. I wanted to give her some slack considering what she’s been through, but damn she ticked me off. I also wish that this book had more sweet moments of our hero and the kids. I love reading that kind of domestic scenes, and this book only has a little to none of those.

Overall, this is a really tragic and beautiful second chance at love type of story where our heroine struggles to deal with her grief and tries to open up her heart again after the love of her life died. The plot doesn’t go beyond what the synopsis tells you, but it’s well written. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a book that can give you a good cry.

(Note: Originally Read as an Audiobook in 2019, but Shelved on the “2017 Reading Challenge”)
Profile Image for Bex | TotallyBex.com.
524 reviews184 followers
August 7, 2017
★★ 4.5 stars ★★

Rachel is such an amazing storyteller! Even though this one was sad from the start, I could feel the loss, the struggle, and the hopefulness throughout the story. I can't imagine losing my husband at such a young age and I can't imagine what it would be like for the next man to come in and try to fill that hole in your heart. I cried and I laughed and I fell a little more in love with Rachel's writing by reading this book!

(full review to come)
Profile Image for Vee.
Author 26 books678 followers
January 29, 2015
10 amazing stars! First of all, I’d like to point out what this book isn’t. If you are looking for a broody, super possessive and jealous alpha male. This is not for you. If you are looking for a steamy read, this is not for you as well.

But if you are looking for an evocative story with writing that is so profound in its simplicity, pick this book up. This a bit more chicklit than straight romance because this is a tale of a woman, Liz who had lost the great love of her life. Not only that, she has to navigate the five stages of grief to continue living because four adorable children are dependent on her.

Enter Ben, her sexy neighbor.

I like the slow burn of their relationship. It starts as friendship and the natural progression to something more is believable. Ben helps her with mundane tasks like mowing the grass or taking care of the trash until he starts to visit more and help the children with their homework.

The children play a vital role in this book. How can they not when they’ve lost a great father? One of the best lines were the truths that came from the mouths of babes. Sometimes it takes a child's innocent view of the world to make adults realize what really matters.

The characters will break your heart, but they will put it back together and add a smile to your face.

I like that this is different. Usually books have the ex-husband be a bastard, but this is far from the case here.

Ben’s almost too perfect: his understanding, his sweetness, his patience. I would normally roll my eyes with this type of hero, but in the context of the story he is exactly the type of guy Liz and her kids need for a second chance.

"Yes, Grady was your great love, but you are mine. And if you let me, I would be yours too. There isn’t a limit on how much we can love, Liz. You had Grady. Now have me."

There were times when I wanted to scream at Liz to give herself that second chance. But I understand her, she had to go through every stage of her grief in order to be free to fall in love again.

"Maybe Grady had been able to love the woman that I was, but Ben would get to love the woman I had yet to become."

This is an emotional read, but it was written so well, just when you get all teary-eyed you’ll suddenly grin if not snort with laughter.

*Note. This book ended at 88%. I really wanted more.
Profile Image for Annika.
453 reviews102 followers
June 27, 2016

What a powerful, touching, gut-wrenching story about love, grief, hope and growth.
I'm not sure two hands would be enough to count the amount of times I broke out in tears reading this book, but despite all the sadness, there was so much warmth and hopefulness in Higginson's writing that made the heavy subject easier to bear.

I loved that the author did not belittle the love that Liz and Grady had in order to make the relationship between her and Ben seem more "special".
When Grady held my hand, it was the feeling that had been with me for a decade. It was love that had grown from a seedling into a mature, unbreakable bond.
With Ben, we had started at the beginning with something fragile and small, but what we had was never like what Grady and I had. Our feelings for each other didn't start as a seed, they started as an ocean. I felt as though we were separated by miles of rocky, turbulent water that could drown both of us or neither of us with the wrong step. And as we'd spent time together, as we'd opened up and shared in each other's lives, that ocean had shrunk. The waters between us had grown smaller and less frightening. The distance between had all but disappeared.

My only point of criticism: the Kindle edition ends at 88%. Boo!
Profile Image for Vanessa Booked Up.
868 reviews386 followers
April 9, 2016
4.5 Life After Death Stars!

"Not every story has a happy ending. Some only hold a happy beginning. This is my story. I’d already met my soul mate, fallen in love with him and lived our happily ever after. This story is not about me falling in love. This story is about me learning to live again after love left my life."

This book was just what I needed! Do you ever get into a certain type of mood where you just want to lose yourself in an emotional story and cry? LOL!! Well, that's exactly the kinda mood that I was in when I picked this up and boy did it deliver!!

This book will break your heart and then put it back together.

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Elizabeth has recently become a widow. She lost the love of her life to a pretty abrupt battle with cancer. She's now left behind, raising four children and just trying to get through each day.

I loved Elizabeth and Elizabeth scared the ever loving shit out of me at the same time! I loved that she wasn't a perfect mom... she struggled to get her kids to school on time and set out the trash. I found her to be so relatable. I think as a mom and wife, what happened to her was like reading about one of my greatest fears. It's that thing that is always in the back of my head, but it's a fear that I don't want to give much energy to.

After just a few months on her own, a new neighbor moves in next door and we get to meet the very sexy, very sweet Ben Tyler. Now, you know me... I loooove my dirty talking, alpha men. But every once in a while, it is so nice to read about a hero that is just a nice guy. A good guy. And Ben is one of the nicest guys out there.

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Watching their relationship evolve was so entertaining and endearing to watch. They go from awkward neighbors, to friends, to really good friends, to more. I was afraid that I would think that Liz moved on too quickly...the book begins just 6-months after Grady (her late hubby) passes away, but that was so not the case. This book is a slow build and so much more than a romance. You really get to read and experience the full evolution of their relationship. Ben brings humor to the story, he's helpful to Liz and her children, and so patient with her.

“Why are you so nice to me? You barely know me.” A soft smile played on his lips, “But I like what I know so far. And I am excited for what else there is to find out.”

I loved the model that the author used here and how she applied it to the five stages of death. I will say, for as sad as this book is, I did not find it to be depressing, which is something that I think I was worried about and probably kept me from picking it up for as long as I did. It has sad parts, but it also has funny ones, uplifting ones, and insanely romantic parts. ALL the feels and heart-clenching moments here!!<3

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Ben was just such an amazing character. I think I fell in love with him right alongside of Elizabeth. This book had some amazing secondary characters too. I loved their kids...OMG, Blake, her oldest son, was my favorite!!

I found the writing to be AMAZING!!! I highlighted a ton of lines here. Just very powerful, emotional, and profound stuff. Her writing style reminded me of Katja Millay and Noelle Adams.

Although this book is definitely a romance, I wouldn't classify it as one 100%. This wasn't something that I was expecting but I liked what I got. But just know that there is a lot of page time dedicated to the whole family, their grief, and their struggles.

This transition wasn't an easy one AT ALL for Elizabeth BUT, I thought that every single thing that she endured felt genuine, at least to me. There was no OTT drama llama here whatsoever. The last 20% of the book was absolutely amazing AND it was romance ALL THE WAY!!!

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"Yes, Grady was your great love, but you are mine. And if you would let me, I would be yours too. There isn’t a limit on how much we can love, Liz. You had Grady. Now have me.”

The only reasons that this wasn't a 5-star read for me are because first, there were some slight lulls in the story at times, more so in the first half of the book, and second, this book DESPERATELY needed an epilogue!! I NEEDED an epilogue. That and I was frustrated that it ends at the 88% mark. But other than that, it was pretty close to perfect for me. Definitely an author that I look forward to reading again!!

"Sometimes love didn’t make sense. And that was okay. It was far better to know love and accept love than try to understand it."

Profile Image for Michele.
1,320 reviews
April 25, 2019
5+ stars!

“This story is about me learning to live again after love left my life.”

I think it's pretty evident from the title and the blurb that the main character, Liz has lost her husband and is trying to "survive" while raising their four children. Along the way, she meets the new neighbor, Ben who steps in to help her out here and there and becomes a friend when she really doesn't have many. Let's just be honest here...he is not scared off by her four kids, he loves them! This guy is amazing!!

As I read this story, I really felt Liz's emotions as she went through all the stages. Her pain was intense and her guilt was equally painful. It would be so hard to balance grieving yourself while trying to help your four children through the grief process as well, all while maintaining a household as a single parent. This was such a beautiful book about survival, hope, resilience and love. On a lighter note, I think we all need a Ben Tyler. I'm just saying that I don't believe a more perfect man has ever been written in a book before - - he's the absolute BEST!

"....Yes, Grady was your great love, but you are mine. And if you would let me, I would be yours too. There isn’t a limit on how much we can love, Liz. You had Grady. Now have me."
Profile Image for Viri.
1,161 reviews408 followers
March 23, 2017
La reseña completa en el blog ;)

Tenía muchísimas ganas de leer este libro, pero al mismo tiempo un miedo tremendo a que no fuera lo que esperaba. Lo ha sido. En algunas partes me recordó a esa sensación que tuve cuando leí "El aire que respira" porque este también es un libro conmovedor, de esos que te sueltan la lagrima a cada rato, emotivo y sentimental, es una historia llena de dolor, pero sobre todo de AMOR.

No sé dónde leí que cuando se hacía una reseña buena siempre es más difícil poner en palabras las sensaciones que nos dejan, en cambio en las reseñas malas, las palabras fluyen contando todos los puntos erróneos de un libro.

Me ha encantado el mensaje, amo los libros de nuevas oportunidades, pero siento que me faltó un epilogo. Y sentí algunas veces que Liz estaba tan tirada en su dolor que me daban ganas de decirle, "¡Ey, REACCIONA! ¡Este hombre te AMA, no lo tires por la borda, no seas tonta!" pero luego, lograba ponerme en su lugar y comprendía sus sentimientos, sus emociones. Y es cuando pensaba que no lo lograría, que no sabría cómo obtener su felices por siempre si no estaba su marido a un lado. Me encantaron los personajes secundarios, que siempre estaban ahí para la protagonista. Me partió el corazón la escena de Katherine y Liz al final, pero, sobre todo, los niños. Dios… ningún hijo debería sentir el dolor de perder a un padre a tan temprana edad, y es que ver su sufrimiento y proceso de duelo, simplemente fue desgarrador.

Este es un libro emotivo por todos lados, de los que disfrutas y no puedes parar de leer, me encantó Ben, me gustó como se enamoraron, porque el suyo no fue todo fuegos artificiales y amor a primera vista, el suyo fue un amor bonito, pausado, lleno de comprensión y dolor pero que se podía palpar en cada página.
Profile Image for AJ.
2,934 reviews958 followers
March 25, 2015
4.5 stars

This is a heartachingly beautiful story of a woman who has lost the love of her life and been left alone to raise their four young children. And in heartbreaking, sweet, and sometimes funny, detail, we get to journey with her through her grief, and her slow recovery as she learns to live again.

The prologue of this book introduces us to Liz and Grady together, and just from those few short pages, the incredible love between them is evident, and I was in tears as they said their final goodbyes. The story then picks up six months later with Liz lost in world without Grady. She is absolutely broken by her grief and struggling to hold her life together.

I could hear the kids cry out for me from the back, but my grief had consumed me by now. I was useless. I was an empty shell. I was pathetic and helpless and so utterly lost I didn’t even know where to go.

It felt unfair of them to expect so much of me. Didn’t they know how much I hurt? Didn’t they know that it took everything I had to get up in the morning and face the day?
This pain inside me drowned me; it tore at me every second of every day until I thought I would shatter into a million worthless pieces just from the sheer pressure of it.
I couldn’t do this.
I couldn’t.
And I didn’t know what to do about that because there was no one else to shoulder this impossible burden with me.
I was alone. And I had never been this alone before.
I just didn’t know what to do.

A friend of mine said that this book is full of raw emotion, and I absolutely agree with her. Liz’s pain is described almost brutally, and I was in tears so many times as she tried so hard to just keep going. And it’s not even that she’s battling to get over Grady, she has to deal with the fact that she doesn’t want to get over him.

I couldn’t let him go.
I didn’t want to let him go.
Letting him go meant acknowledging that he would never come back. And I just couldn’t. I needed him too much.
I loved him too much.

It is during this time that Ben comes into her life. Ben moves into the house next door, and befriends Liz, helping her out and just generally ‘being there’, even though she never asks anything of him.

“Why are you so nice to me? You barely know me.”
A soft smile played on his lips, “But I like what I know so far. And I am excited for what else there is to find out.”

It is clear that Ben has feelings for her, and the more time they spend together as he makes himself a part of her family’s life, she slowly starts to feel something for him as well. But it’s a hard road that they are on. Liz clings to the memory of her husband, and struggles hugely to accept Ben in her life, and there is a lot of back and forth. But even though Liz has no intention of ever moving on from Grady, and resists her feelings as much as she can, she can’t help but start to fall for him. And he is absolutely beautiful with her!

His hands cupped my shoulders and held me still so that he could look into my frightened eyes. “Liz, you didn’t make things awkward between us. This isn’t the right time, I get that. Don’t feel bad. I’m not in a hurry. It’s alright. I can wait.”

Ben is all kinds of amazing! He is wonderful with her kids, and he makes no secret of the fact that he loves them deeply. He also makes no secret of his feelings for Liz, and while he puts up with a lot from her, and is infinitely patient with her, he’s not a doormat. He is gentle, but he pushes her as well - pushes her to start living again, and to accept all that life had to offer, including everything that he wants with her.

“I’m going to be gentle with you, Liz. We’re going to treat this delicately. I’m going to let this happen slowly, let us fall slowly. But I am not asking too much of you.”

“I can’t take anymore heartbreak,” I confessed on a broken whisper.
“Then it’s a good thing I’m not going to break your heart.”

And even as tentative as things seem between them, they still joke around, and I loved how Ben was able to bring that back into Liz’s life.

“She’s my mom and she’s never seen me this happy before. Of course, she thinks I love you.”
I braved a look at him. “And do you?”
“If I deny it, will you be able to get through dinner?”
I nodded, ignoring the thin veil of his words over the truth I didn’t want to accept. “Then I don’t love you. You’re the most aggravating woman I’ve ever met. I can barely tolerate you.”
“And my kids?”
“Oh, no,” he chuckled. “I definitely love them.”
“You do?” An aching affection flooded my body, filling in all of the cracks that fear and uncertainty had left me with. An emotional heat bubbled in my chest and wrapped my stiff limbs with something like hope.
“Yes, I do. But they agree with me about you. You aggravate us all.”

Liz’s kids are amazing. Aged 8, 6, 4 and 2, they are challenging and at different stages of being able to understand what is happening. They are resilient, but they suffer, and watching them, one by one, come to the realisation that their Daddy was gone was tragic. Literally every time one of the kids cried, I cried right along with them. It was heartbreaking, but also beautiful getting to see them be there for each other as a family, and start to accept everything and move on.

I loved this book. Yes, it’s heartbreaking, and I’m glad I waited until I was in the right frame of mind to start it, but I loved it. Liz’s story is both tragic and uplifting, but it’s beautifully written and I could feel everything that she was going through. And the romance – while necessarily a slow build – was gorgeous.

Beautiful - 4.5 stars.

An Advanced Reader Copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Dali.
1,851 reviews485 followers
February 11, 2015
A touching, heartbreaking and overall emotionally charged, beautifully written story about loss and finding out how to live life after death.

Elizabeth Carlson is choking with grief after losing her best friend, her soul mate, her husband and father of her four children and can’t find a way to put her fractured heart back together, much less her life.

Six months have past, her kids are rebelling, her house is crumbling down and her new neighbor, Ben Tyler, is annoyingly helpful and assertive. He’s a welcome relief, a solid presence she can count one. But he’s causing her guilt because he doesn’t just want to help out taking out the trash, he wants more, he wants everything that Liz is incapable of giving him.

Ben accompanies Liz through the five stages of grief hoping she’ll learn that there’s light, love and life after death.
“Grady has been the only life I know. But can there still be life in death? If I chain myself to my dead husband, will I ever truly live again?”

This is a gorgeously written book which made me cry repeatedly. Told in first person from Liz’s point of view, I felt her grief acutely. But I also struggled with her character to the point of aggravation.

I would never wish her loss on my worst enemy, I hope to God I’m never in that position and I can’t even begin to fathom Liz’s situation. But I have been witness to real life loss. I watched my friend and neighbor bury her husband while her two infants didn’t understand the concept of death. But I never once saw signs of her drowning. Perhaps it was because she relied on family and friends. She didn’t just borrow time, she borrowed strength. My friend always looked ahead in the hope that one day it would get better and it did. Sorry, I felt the need to explain myself.
“Elizabeth, any time I can save your life by ordering pizza, please let me know. It’s a sacrifice I am more than willing to make… You have people that care about you, that want to help. Let us.”

I sympathized but I also lacked the patience for her exasperating attitude during the better part of her story. I found myself thinking of ways she could make her life easier and why she didn’t take advantage of them (a health club with day care, home delivered grocery services, grief counselor at her kid’s school and for her). And speaking as a parent, it bothered me that she put so much responsibility on her eight year old son on top of his own suffering and I was further peeved by the fact that at times this felt more like Liz and Grady’s book than Liz and Ben’s.
“I didn’t want it to get better. I didn’t want to stop missing Grady. I didn’t want this pain to recede because that would mean I would be over this.”

Oh Ben! I completely fell in love with him. He was wonderfully perfect. He saw the life in Liz’s disorganized home and felt a connection with her he didn’t want to ignore. He was also a smart man who knew what he was asking for.
“I’m going to be gentle with you, Liz. We’re going to treat this delicately. I’m going to let this happen slowly, let us fall slowly. But I am not asking too much of you… I don’t want to compete with Grady… And I don’t ever expect you to stop loving him. But whether you want to admit it or not, we’ve started something great. You don’t have to prove to me that you have room for two men in your heart. You’ve already made room. I think it’s time you realized that so we can move forward.”

Their love progressed slowly from friendship. He didn’t treat Liz like she thought he should, he treated her like she needed to be in order to be coaxed into a better, happier place. He never pushed her, but he confidently put himself where he wanted to be in her life.
“Our love happened as the miles passed and we felt a little less lost. It happened as the road became clearer and less lonely. He came in like a sigh, a soft breath of hope. He happened to me through tears and grief.”

His actions towards her were exactly right to help her feel more lighthearted and tethered. He was patient while he appreciated why Liz balked at the thought of a romantic relationship. He never tried to replace Grady. What he said and how he said things to her and her kids where careful and stunning.
“… there is so much left of your life to live. I want to live it with you. I want to be a part of everything that remains for you, good and bad. I want to be there for your kids, for your stressful days, for your amazing days, for all of your nights and for every moment in between... Grady was your great love, but you are mine. And if you would let me, I would be yours too. There isn’t a limitt on how much we can love, Liz. You had Grady. Now you have me.”

Which is why I felt he was cheated. I felt Liz didn’t commit to him completely nor gave him everything he deserved even when she did give herself a chance to live again and be happy with Ben.
“It’s hard to imagine settling for anybody else. I think whoever they are will always feel like second best. Or second string or whatever.”

I thought that since I have read the same basic storyline before that the sadness would be tempered with the romance. As things got better for Liz though, not even the undeniably beautiful and precise composition of the story nor the wonderfully perfect hero could overshadow the sad tenor I felt throughout and the lacking happiness I felt at the end.

Books are a uniquely personal experience. For my tiny escapes from reality I like to include more smiles. This is an impassioned read about getting past the heartbreak of losing a loved one. The loved one of your life. And finding the life can still be bright after it. So perhaps I’ll give it another chance when I’m in a better frame of mind for soul-destroying, gut-wrenching emotions.

This is a standalone book. Told in first person from the heroine's point of view with a happy ending.

3.5 teary eyed stars

Buy link -> http://amzn.to/1yS3mnx

* I was given an ARC of this book via NetGalley. The excerpts are from that copy. *

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Profile Image for Smitten's Book Blog.
337 reviews318 followers
February 23, 2015

4.5 Stars for Ben & Liz.

My Casting:

This was such a beautiful, romantic, heart-wrenching standalone.

I wasn't sure I was going to love this book, because we already know from the blurb that our protagonist, Liz, is consumed with grief, after her husband passed and childhood sweetheart passed away from cancer, leaving her to raise their four children. So, I knew this was going to break my heart. And it really did.

I loved Grady, even though we only actually get a few pages of him in the very beginning. But he is such a huge part of Liz's life, and of her childrens' lives, that you really feel like you know him as if he'd been alive throughout the whole book. Rachel Higginson dives straight in with the prologue and doesn't pull any punches. So have tissues prepared from the off.

“This story is about me learning to live again after love left my life.”

What really makes this book is the family dynamics and the love and support that Liz and her children offer one another. Liz's youngest child is only two and her oldest is eight and Rachel Higginson has done such a beautiful job of giving each of them a role in the family, illustrating how each of them deals with the loss of their father differently and differentiating between their ages and genders. Some of the most heartbreaking moments in this story come from when Liz talks to her kids about their Dad. Trying to get a four year old to understand that her Daddy won't be coming back, and why, and that he hasn't stopped loving them. Oh my goodness, I bawled like a baby.

The tragedy of these vibrant children growing up without their Daddy, never really knowing such a wonderful, kind, family loving man. And something that, as you read this book, you realise happens all too often. To me, this was just a sad story that I could pick up and put down, in between my real life. But I couldn't help feeling torn apart for all of the single mums and widows that this book might be resonating with. It just makes you incredibly thankful for everything you have.

“Liz, he died. And you're still alive. And there is so much of your life left to live.”

So, now we've discussed the parts that will make you ugly-cry... Let's talk about Ben. if anybody is going to heal your heart, it will be Ben Tyler. *sigh* The patient, kind, sensitive, strong, handsome next door neighbour, Ben Tyler.

I absolutely adored the slow build of Liz and Ben's relationship. Nothing felt rushed or unrealistic. You could feel the conflict that Liz went through, trying to move on from her husband, but not wanting to let him go. And you can't help but fall head over heels for Ben as he handles Liz with such care and love. He's so selfless and giving and just everything Liz needs, right when she needs it. I have no doubt that he was a gift from fate. He will stitch your heart together again and melt you into a puddle of goo!

Ben had been my saviour. Ben had been breath back in my lungs. Beats back in my heart. Blood back in my veins.

Honestly, I was concerned that this story was going to come across as tasteless or a little insulting to women in this situation. I can't imagine how hard it must be to move on when the man you thought was going to be the big love of your life, is taken from you far too early. But Rachel does a fantastic job of conveying the warring emotions, the push and pull, the guilt, the desperation, the need for companionship and a helping hand. It's all there. The narrative is patient and honest. And it's all believable.

“Emma, I have had four children! Four of them! Do you understand the state of my vagina? What kind of man goes out on a date with a woman that has four children?”

If you're looking for something super hot, then you're looking in the wrong place. This book has it's moments, although they are diluted and classy, and I feel this fits with the theme and emotion of the book. However, Liz and Ben's story is full of palpable chemistry and sensuality. It's full of love and affection and withheld desires.

My blog: http://smittensbookblog.wordpress.com/
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,107 reviews533 followers
October 8, 2019
I am rating this a 3.75 out of 5, rounded up to a 4.
This story started off so well. A young widow has to cope with raising four young children. A handsome, eligible bachelor moves next door and befriends the grieving family. The neighbour falls hopelessly in love with the heroine, and she feels horrible guilt for even entertaining any feelings for another man so soon after her soulmate's death. I will admit, I went through quite a few tissues during the first 16 chapters. I get that losing someone you dearly loved can be devastating. Most of us have been there, done that, and this is what made the first half of the novel so bittersweet.

Don't we all wish we had someone like Ben Tyler? So patient, so willing to accept that the object of his limitless adoration will always still love her dead husband? (Being facetious here: Ben is truly a saint or an angel or whatever paranormal deity you want to call him, because no one can really be that selfless.) I also started getting tired of all the crying - by all the characters as well as my own. My philosophy in life is that it is better to laugh than to cry, but if you must cry, do it thoroughly, then get on with your life. There is still life to be lived, joy to be found, new places to discover. Better not to fall into self-pity and become maudlin. Grieve, but move on. Elizabeth needed some good grief counseling, but I get that the story wouldn't have been so sad and melodramatic without all the emotional backsliding that kept happening. I stopped reading Amy Harmon's novels because she deliberately aims to gut her readers and drown them in oceans of tears. This is so not how I want to spend my precious few reading hours.
Sadly, the second half of this novel started to pall on me. The storyline became predictable and repetitive. Elizabeth, who started off as a strong wife and mother, ended up resembling a swooning heroine in a historical novel. It was fortunate for Elizabeth that Ben Tyler moved next door and was conveniently placed to console this grieving young widow, and ultimately rescue her and her four young children. Because, as this storyline seems to suggest, a woman can't be happy unless she is in a relationship, with a man to look after her - right??!!! This was a disappointment for me, I have to admit.
Don't get me wrong, this was still a great read. If you enjoy a good cry, then this book is for you!
Profile Image for Shelly Crane.
Author 34 books5,817 followers
January 18, 2015
Holy to the heartbreak.

The prologue begins and IMMEDIATELY my heart is broken. This book kind of does a reverse on you. Most books start with the story line and carry you through with the characters, you grow with them and learn to love them and all their quirks, and then something tragic or awful happens that breaks our heart. This book just works in reverse and shows us the opposite ways that people not only put themselves back together, but also fall apart.

And Liz did fall apart. And it was okay. Gah, did I feel for this woman. But in her falling apart, she realized that she was this strong woman that had the love of her kids and her family. And she was worthy of love.

And Ben. Ooooooooh, Ben. You had me not just rooting for you, but falling for you over and over and over and over. The things you would do and say were just ridiculously swoonworthy, and even when Liz didn't appreciate it or couldn't handle it, I did. I loved how he pushed her, but not too much. He had decided that she was worth waiting for. He did things for that seemed so little to him, but to a mom of four seemed so huge. The first kiss? And then the first make-out session? Your kindle will scorch your fingers. It's ridiculous how much chemistry they had. It was obvious from the first time they met and the only person who's clueless is Liz.

And Grady, Liz's husband. The reason your heart breaks so hard is that he dies in the prologue. I don't think it would have been so bad for us if the book had just started and Liz just told us that her husband had died, no, Rachel made us live that. But this man...Gosh. We get to see him before he dies. His love for her. And we get to see bits and pieces of him through the book as Liz remembers him, and fights her attraction to Ben, and grieves. In fact, I was so in love with Grady that when I met Ben the very first time, it took a minute to even want me to want HER to move on. That's probably the point. Grady was amazing. And Ben never tried to step on Grady which I really appreciated.

This book will completely break your heart and put it back together again, sending you on a ride that will make you look at love and life in different ways forever.

5 out of 5 stars from me

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