My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sarah Mayberry feels like a new discovery. A second wind that's sending me rushing through everything I love so much about a really good, solid contemporary romance. This is where character counts. Everything comes down to the two leads when you don't have car chases, epic quests or dragons. It all comes down to chemistry, growth, humor and the unfolding of a romance. It comes down to the story of two people and whether they're strong enough to carry it.
Maybe not everyone thinks of all those things when they think of romance, but a really good writer will. Sarah Mayberry is a fantastic writer that knows her characters, this genre, and the magic that can happen when you write a really good, solid story about two people falling in love.
Can you hear me sighing? It's a long, delicious one.
Oliver is the grown up guy version of a Sad But Still Mad Taylor Swift song. But in a hot, gruff Gonna Get Away For Awhile kind of way. He was in a big band several lifetimes ago, and since then has been working as a sound engineer for others, and he'll shrug his shoulders with that small smile and say he followed the predictable path of the washed up rock star. He just found out like a punch to the face that his wife of six years is having an affair.
The wife who was once the singer in his big band.
It's a nasty, awful place to be so he leaves to put to rights his dead aunt's beach house, where next door a tiny pixie of a woman is right off the bat rude to him. Unknown to him she's on the mend from a horrific car accident, and will turn the tides with her own hands if it'll only mean she can finally get back to her high stakes life of being a TV producer.
Except, they're not waiting for her, and she's riddled with scars and this close to losing it. She just wants to avoid people right now.
Too bad their dogs are trying to bang it out.
It's a strong, solid set up and the execution is flawless. There was a strong understanding of these two. It's not just a cutesy romance about dog people. It's not just hijinks of their dogs humping across the fence. Mackenzie and Oliver are broken people who come together on this tiny piece of beach and find something stop in your tracks arresting. This isn't Nicholas Sparks melodrama. The flow of conversation, the dialogue the charm and the sexy tension is so on point that you can just settle into the place and trust that it's going to play out perfectly.
Mackenzie's character impressed me by her honesty and her coming to terms with her new self. There's a moment where she's freaked out by showing him her scars, and where she was on the brink of pulling back she instead pushes forward. That moment was when I fell for her. And poor Oliver is such a mess, but he's so honest, and good and charming. And it isn't in his quick smiles or sexy banter, but in the way he can't help but be with Mackenzie despite everything.
This was a lovely, sweet, sexy story about two people who fall in love at the worst times of their lives. It's fast and unexpected, but it's romantic and funny and quiet, but it works. It comes together like a perfectly stitched quilt you just want to lose yourself under for a lazy Sunday.
ARC provided by NetGalley. The Other Side of Us will be out in stores on January 2nd.