Caroline Parker is a successful thirty-something divorce attorney in Boston. She has a large, loving family, but finding her own person has escaped her until now. When Hannah Dalton unexpectedly appears in her life again, only previously known to Caroline as the wife of an insufferable co-worker, her attraction to Hannah is immediate, if not more than a little unhelpful.
Hannah Dalton, however, has a lot going on. Between asking Caroline to represent her in her impending divorce to raising her nine-year-old daughter to re-entering the workforce after almost a decade, romance is the last thing on her mind.
As they work together on Hannah’s divorce case, their friendship evolves easily — so much so that it’s hard for Caroline to ignore her growing emotional attraction to the other woman. But Hannah’s given no indication she’s anything other than straight, and her life is fraught with complications that make it difficult for her to give up the independence she’s finally clawing her way back toward.
I love that, even right from the start, Caroline doesn’t deny (at least to herself) her attraction to Hannah. There’s some serious lesbian yearning going on, but Caroline, ever the professional, doesn’t want to cross any boundaries. The book is told from Caroline’s perspective though, so we constantly get to understand, as Haley Cass has a brilliant way of doing, how Caroline’s able rationalize the slippery slope she’s heading down, intent to worry tomorrow about the problems her decisions may create since being with Hannah in the here and now feels too damn good.
Hannah has every reason to be upset, overwhelmed, and angry about the situation she’d found herself in–yet she’s none of those things. She’s protective of her daughter, who’s one of the breakout stars of this book, and she’s determined to chart a new path for herself instead of wallowing in how much her life has felt out of her control for so long. Rooting for her is the only possible scenario as you watch her grow throughout the book, and rooting for her to be with Caroline is a natural extension, because we can so clearly see even if Hannah’s not ready to accept it, they’re perfect for one another.
The Writing Style
If you read my last review for Haley Cass, you may already know I’m a bit of a (to put it mildly and to not embarrass myself in a public forum) superfan of her work. She manages an effortlessness in her writing that immediately pulls you in while also packing a punch in every. single. sentence.
It’s difficult to keep two people who are both wonderful in their own respects apart for so long. That’s one of the things I love about this book, and even though I wanted both MCs to throw caution to the wind and admit their feelings already, I understood what was holding them both back.
I have zero chill, so sometimes I struggle with a good slow burn, but this book was absolutely worth the wait. The time and care Haley Cass took to let Caroline and Hannah’s professional relationship evolve, then their friendship, and then finally their romantic relationship felt so authentic given all the obstacles standing in their way.
I didn’t realize one of my kinks is having people organically act like they’re in a couple when they aren’t. It’s sort of the inverse of a fake romance trope, when it’s so obvious to the reader that they’re already doing the thing, even if they won’t talk about the thing.
No complaints here. For a holiday romance, this book navigates some tricky topics with staggering grace and is the perfect read for any time of year.
There’s a lot of hub-bub these days about the post-truth reality we’ve found ourselves in, but I’m here to tell you that Haley Cass is the real deal. That’s a fact, not an opinion. If you don’t feel all the feels during this book, then maybe that’s something you should bring up with your therapist.
If you want your heart to beat wildly in your chest and your stomach to swoop low, and maybe blush a few times for good measure, then this is absolutely the book for you.
Excerpt from When You Least Expect It by Haley Cass
“Look, lusting after Hannah as the hot outside and cold on the inside wife of your coworker is one thing. I mean, it’s kind of a messed up thing. But it’s harmless. Getting entangled in some sort of thing with her, the year after her marriage falls apart – and doesn’t she have a kid? – is a whole other thing that screams disaster. You never make that disaster move, Caro, because you’re too smart for that.”
“But – what does she want?” That’s the niggling thought she keeps having.
What does Hannah want? There’s a mystery there, wrapped in the most gorgeous package, and she’s never been able to turn away from a mystery.
“To scoop a whole mess onto your plate.” Kris succinctly tells her.
And Kris is so often right. So she is definitely probably right about this.
Caroline texts Hannah on New Year’s Day.
She can’t help it; she’s too curious not to. She can’t get rid of that ridiculous coffee cup until she does and then saves the number with a nervous-yet-excited swoop in her stomach.
Hannah, clearly, still means terrible things for her self-control.
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9798565966213
Publisher: Indie author
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