Published by Graydon House on December 30, 2019
Genres: Women's Fiction, Romance
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Thanks so much to Justine Sha for inviting me to take part in Harlequin Trade Publishing’s Winter 2020 Blog Tour for Romance & Women’s Fiction. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Emily Belden’s latest novel, Husband Material.
Husband Material is a romantic tale that is filled with both wit and heart. It follows twenty-nine year old Charlotte Rosen, a young woman who seems to have it all. She lives in L.A. and has a great job working as a social media analyst. Charlotte is not only a rising star at her firm, but she is also a whiz at numbers, algorithms, and programming, and so as a side project, she’s also developing her own dating app in hopes of one day turning it into a big money maker for herself. Charlotte is convinced that she can pull enough data from the internet (social media, etc.) to determine who would be most compatible. As she is also in the market for Mr. Right, Charlotte is using herself as a test subject to work out the kinks in her app.
Charlotte is all about the numbers and the data. She sees everything in life in black and white, 0s and 1s. Everything has a right and wrong answer…until life throws a curve ball at her in the form of her dead husband’s ashes, which show up on her doorstep in a J. Crew box. Not only is this incredibly awkward because Charlotte hasn’t told anyone in LA. that she’s a widow, but it also exposes old wounds, unresolved issues, and of course the immense grief that Charlotte thought she was moving past. In order to begin the healing process anew, Charlotte has to reopen doors she thought were closed, including rekindling an awkward and painful relationship with her ex mother-in-law, as well as an unexpected one with her dead husband’s best friend. With these encounters, Charlotte realizes her numbers and data will only take her so far, and that not everything in life is black and white. There’s a lot of gray, more gray than she ever thought possible.
Charlotte’s growth throughout the story is what really made this book work for me. I actually found her a little annoying at the beginning because she was just so borderline arrogant about how her skills with numbers were the answer to everything. The can of worms that the urn showing up opened really turned Charlotte’s life upside down and I liked watching her have to re-evaluate and adapt her view of the world. Even though she annoyed me in the beginning, by the end of the story, I adored Charlotte and was sad to have to say goodbye.
In addition to creating such a complex character who shows so much growth in the story, I also thought Belden did a wonderful job of making Charlotte’s experience of loss and grief feel so authentic. I read at the end that she actually interviewed widows to discuss their experiences and that research really shines through with the range of emotions that Charlotte goes through each day and the unexpected things that can suddenly trigger an emotional reaction.
I also really liked that even though the book dealt with the very serious subject of grief and healing, it still overall felt like a very lighthearted read. It was entertaining and heartfelt at the same time and was written in such a vivid way that I could easily picture it as a film on the big screen while I was reading.
If you’re looking for a heartwarming story about love, family, and finding a way to move on from the past, Emily Belden’s Husband Material is a great choice. On sale, December 30, 2019.
Told in Emily Belden’s signature edgy voice, a novel about a young widow’s discovery of her late husband’s secret and her journey toward hope and second-chance love.
Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.
Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.
But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.