The Night that Changed Everything by Anne McAllister
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Very enjoyable book with a realistic heroine that I bonded with. Edie is like the girl next door, someone you probably went to college or high school with. I liked how she was an intelligent woman who didn't make stupid decisions with her love life because she felt like doing it or out of desperation. I could understand her not wanting to date for a while after her husband died. She wanted to cherish what she had with him, and she gave herself time to mourn him. I loved that her relationship with her deceased husband had been fulfilling and loving. Ben seemed like a really good guy. It was interesting how she took what he'd taught her about love and caring for someone and applied it to her relationship with Nick, in a good way. I believe being loved teaches us how to love others. And I'm not talking about sex--a whole different issue.
Nick had never gotten over his fiancee' dying a few days prior to their wedding. He blamed himself that he put off getting married to build Amy the house of her dreams. Since then, he's sworn off on relationships other than one night stands. Nick is the sort of hero that gets on my nerves. He thinks it's perfectly okay to have sex with a stranger (which is a serious risk), but not to take the chance to have a real relationship. Relationships are not the kiss of death. They can be what you want them to be. Instead of realizing that he couldn't control what happens in life, he became more of a control freak when it came to emotions. His angst didn't really translate to me. More than anything, it felt more like an ostrich hiding its head in the sand. One could surmise that he feared being hurt, but when he met Edie and felt such a strong attraction to her, one that grew into a deep bond that he wanted to deny, he turned into a real chump. It would be fine if he was with a woman who felt the same way, but since he sought out Edie, then he should have realized that he was playing emotional games, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. It doesn't feel good to put one's heart out there and fall on one's face, and that's what he did to Edie, even after he'd had to work so hard to get her to trust him. In his mind, he never promised anything, but his actions showed that he wanted more. He was the King of Mixed Signals.
On the good side, I enjoyed the fact that Nick was a house restorer, as house flipping is a subject I have a keen interest in. I've been doing a lot of DIY Network watching, with its share of hunky contractors and craftsmen, so this story fit in thematically with what's going on in my TV viewing life. I liked that more about Nick than his personality. I felt he needed to do some growing up. I can't help being hard on the guy. He showed me some traits that makes me want to slap him on the head and tell him to "Man Up." He does come around, which is good. I just wish that he had shown a little more maturity earlier on when it counted. I think he did realize what a gem he has in Edie, so that's for the win.
So, I liked this book more for Edie, the handyman/contractor hero motif, and the smooth flow of McAllister's storytelling. Her books go by at a nice pace and make me feel like I'm relaxing on the porch drinking iced tea and enjoying myself. That's a good feeling. It keeps me coming back to her.
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