Review: The Birthday List by Devney Perry

Note: This ARC was provided by the author via InkSlinger PR in exchange for an honest review.

“I'm sorry,” I cried, burrowing my face into his shirt. 
I was sorry for crying after our incredible kiss. I was sorry for ruining our intimate moment. But mostly, I was sorry that I wasn't sorry for kissing Cole. 
I was letting Jamie go. 
And it broke my heart all over again. 

I had heard about Devney Perry by way of her Jamison Valley series last year and early this year, but it wasn't until her recently released standalone, The Birthday List, that I actually experienced her writing firsthand. This novel came as a highly recommended read by InkSlinger PR's very own Danielle Sanchez, and so when the opportunity to peruse an advanced copy came along, I was smart enough to say "yes", and I so do not regret that I did. This book was above and beyond what I had hoped it would be, and now, Devney Perry has bumped her way up my to-be-read list, not only in terms of the series that made her a go-to author for many, but also any of her future releases.

The Birthday List basic story line carries with a familiar theme--that of a late spouse, significant other, or important person (whether it be familial, platonic, or romantic) who leaves behind a written list, letters, or notes that help guide the surviving partner or individual--but the author's added her own spin to it. Twenty-nine-year-old Poppy Maysen has spent the last five years mourning the untimely death of her beloved husband Jamie. However, slowly but surely, she's trying to move forward, even opening The Maysen Jar, the restaurant that she always wanted and that Jamie promised to help her with. Now, Poppy's set herself a goal: to check everything off of Jamie's "birthday list" by New Year's, which also happens to be his birthday. She doesn't expect to get help in the form of thirty-one-year-old police detective Cole Goodman--the same Cole Goodman who stood on her doorstep five years ago to inform her of Jamie's murder and went on to stay by her side for hours as she dealt with the immediate aftermath.

Oh, how I empathized with Poppy! There was no denying how much she loved Jamie and how she mourned her loss, and even though she had made steps to proceed with her life without him, it wasn't until she both decided to tackle his birthday list AND allow Cole to be a constant presence in that new life that she truly began to move on and forward. Cole was probably as close to perfect as you could get, and I confess that there were a couple of points in the story where I wished Poppy didn't have to make it seem as if Jamie was inferior to Cole, whether it be in terms of kissing or Jamie pulling her along by the hand compared to Cole who had a steadying hand at her back. That's just me, of course, but maybe doing so was part of Poppy's process of letting go and I'm probably splitting hairs. She was a woman who had a first love that she would always remember, and a last love who reminded her that she had someone by her side once again who loved, respected, trusted, and supported her without question.

I loved this book and appreciated how Devney Perry made it about Poppy honoring Jamie and the life she once had as his wife as well as her honoring the woman she now was and the possibility of having a life with Cole. There is one major twist in the story, and suffice it to say that I didn't see it coming. That obstacle was one that I think was necessary for Poppy and Cole to hurdle together. Naturally, I can't say what the hurdle was, but the fact that it caught me by surprise has earned Perry even more kudos on my end. Her writing more than impressed me, and the combination of weaving a tale of starting over, letting go but not forgetting the past, and holding on to hope with an unforgettable cast of characters has The Birthday List sitting atop my list of 2018 favorites. Five-plus stars. ♥

Date Read: 03 April 2018

Learn more about Devney Perry.

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