I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Before I Knew
On the second anniversary of her husband’s suicide, Colby Cabot-Baxter is ready to let go of her grief and the mistakes made during her turbulent marriage. Her fresh start comes in the form of A CertainTea, the restaurant she’s set to open along Lake Sandy, Oregon, with help from her family. But when her executive chef quits just weeks before the grand opening, Colby is pressured to hire old family friend Alec Morgan. His award-winning reputation could generate buzz, but their friendship has withered since her husband’s reckless dare cost Alec’s brother his life.
Distracted by guilty secrets concerning the tragedy that changed his and Colby’s lives, Alec self-destructed and lost his famed restaurant. With his career in tatters, he’s determined to use this opportunity to redeem his reputation and to help the woman he’s loved from afar find happiness again.
But secrets have a way of coming out. When Alec’s do, they might destroy the new life he and Colby have rebuilt together.
What do you do when guilt and a shaky past don’t let go? Meet the Cabot’s. A new series that I’m so excited about because Jamie Beck sure knows how to make family drama really emotional and fun. Before I Knew, will give you the feels, smile a little bit, and then ram you with more feels.
Did I mention emotional yet?
No punches were pulled with this book, let me tell you. Usually we get one really sad thing happening in Jamie’s stories, but this one made me tear up on more than one occasion. It starts out heavy with the whole suicide theme, it then morphs into more depression, and issues that are so real in every day life. One can connect with the characters and feel for them. Colby does not want to let go of the past (or can’t really). She’s in a sort of limbo. But she sets out to prove to herself and family that she can pull out of her funk and start a restaurant business.
This was more of a character driven plot which focused a lot on family relationships and growth of the actual characters themselves. While at times, the pace seemed a bit slow and lagging. I really enjoyed the dynamics between each character. That of Colby and her sister were really fun. Makes me kind of sad and glad at the same time that I don’t have a sister of my own.
Alec was equally a complex character, with his guilt and failures eating away at him. The romance between Alec and Colby might have been a bit constrained, but the actual reason for why it seemed like that makes sense. I’ll go back to mentioning the family drama guys. It’s everywhere in this story.
There’s so much sadness going around that it makes me want all of the secondary characters have their happily ever afters, like right now. I kind of wished there was an epilogue to kind of give me a little bit more info.
This book does grow on you. I wasn’t sure what to think in the beginning, but reading it all the way to the end kind of gave me (and the characters) the closure that was needed.
“Weeks of seeing her every day had churned his desire. Like a drug, it made him hallucinate invitation in her eyes. His reckless heart had abandoned caution and now lay lifeless in his chest.”