Note: This ARC was provided by Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books in exchange for an honest review.
It was enough, he thought as he settled more comfortably in his seat. Enough to be her friend.
And then he felt something nudge his shoulder.
It was Heather's head. She'd fallen asleep.
He smiled, shifting slightly to be at a better height for her, carefully cupping her cheek and positioning her head more firmly against his shoulder so it didn't do that awkward lolling around thing.
She let out a happy little sigh, and Josh let his hand linger on her face, just for a second.
It was enough, he thought again.
It had to be.
You know how you go into the newest book in a series that you're enjoying with high hopes that you'll enjoy the two-hour or so experience, just like you did its predecessors? Well, color me pleasantly surprised and overjoyed because For Better or Worse, the third release and the second full-length novel in bestselling author Lauren Layne's Wedding Belles series, has joined the ranks of my top reads for 2016. This was a love story at its truest and purest form, a tale of two people who start of as new neighbors who don't particularly like each other and forge a genuine friendship that becomes the prelude to a romance that was always inevitable and yet remained surprising until the very end. Saying I adored this book and its cast of characters led by the immeasurable Josh Tanner and Heather Fowler doesn't seem sufficient, but that's exactly what I came away with--an adoration for all things For Better or Worse. There were tears, both from heartwarming and from heartrending periods, and always, there was simple, unadulterated joy.
At twenty-seven, Heather Fowler is just a few steps away from achieving her dreams. She's living in a city she loves and has a job that allows her to do something she genuinely enjoys and to work with women who have become her closest friends. When she's given the reins of one of The Wedding Belles' most potentially important weddings, she believes this is her shot to move on up from assistant wedding planner to nixing the "assistant" altogether. Her job may appear glamorous but it takes a lot of hard work, which is why she looks forward to her quiet moments in her new apartment. Unfortunately, her neighbor has gotten far too used to being able to play his instruments and go through band rehearsals. Thirty-three-year-old Josh Tanner may be gorgeous to look at but he's proving to be somewhat of a manwhore with no respect for boundaries, particularly Heather's. He thinks she needs to loosen up and live free, a lesson he learned with a cancer diagnosis five years ago. But does "living free" mean never falling in love?
This was a story about truly living the life that you have by making the most out of it. Josh is at a point in his life where he may think that he's been living it to the fullest but he isn't. He may have made changes after his cancer went into remission, but he hasn't embraced what life--and love--have to offer, not wanting any entanglements that may mean one more person to mourn his passing should his cancer ever return. His life is basically still stuck in neutral, even if he did decide to go in another direction. On the other hand, Heather may be working much harder than he thinks necessary or even approves, but compared to him, she's actually living. She has her let-downs and her setbacks, but she keeps moving forward, willing to take risks, even if it may mean getting her heart broken in the end. I loved Josh and Heather together, but I also felt for both of them apart. I was fully immersed and engrossed in their story that I read it in one sitting and still have a hangover. For Better or Worse is a bona fide five-plus-star read. ♥
Read my reviews for the Wedding Belles series:
From This Day Forward (prequel novella) - four stars - My Review
To Have and to Hold (book one) - 4.5 stars - My Review
For Better or Worse (book two) - five-plus stars - My Review (posted above)
Date Read: 31 August 2016
Learn more about Lauren Layne.