The Five Stages of Falling in Love by Rachel Higginson
Adult Contemporary Romance
Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady's prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her?
Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days.
When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn't just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she's capable of ever giving again.
As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there's more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there's more to life than death.
We all know how easy it is to get completely swept away in a truly epic, once-in-a-lifetime love story. The most unforgettable are the stories that give you characters who make you FEEL everything they go through, who get under your skin and make your heart ache for them to get that happy ending. Then they make you want MORE of their story, just to see how incredible things really end up for them. That’s exactly what a book about Grady and Elizabeth’s life together would have been like, we would have embraced them and every moment they shared would have been more than worth our time to read about. But this isn’t Grady and Elizabeth’s story. I knew this going in, but seeing them together was absolutely a sucker punch to the gut that had me in tears within the first 2% of this book. I braced myself for endless heartache as I walked with Elizabeth through the torture of losing her once-in-a-lifetime. We get to see through her eyes, from the very start, just how amazing their life together was, and I was shocked at how easily I was swept up in characters that I’d just met. That’s how astounding Rachel Higginson’s storytelling voice is here, how perfectly she created these people for us to cherish, and it carried throughout the entire story, including Elizabeth’s second chance at love, flawlessly.
*Long, shaky sigh* I will admit off the bat that this book spoke to me on a personal level. As a single mother of four myself, seeing Elizabeth work her way through the trials of parenting her children alone and wondering how any man could want ALL that comes with dating a woman who’s brought four children into the world…yeah, it hit home. It heightened what she was going through for me, but it also made me appreciate just how genuine this story was. Let’s get real; Elizabeth was in NO way ready to get her heart back in the mix and move on from the man she adored, and I relished in how truly real that felt. We don’t see Elizabeth mourning for a few weeks and then running off to make out with the neighbor, we don’t see her having multiple date nights as if she didn’t have young children to care for, and we don’t get some unrealistic, epic sex, “she fits me like a glove” love scene when she finally allows herself to move forward. She’d lost her love, and it absolutely crushed her soul, but she had to move on with her life, both for herself and for the four children who were relying solely on her for everything. It was as simple and as utterly complicated as that, and Higginson handled it perfectly.
Now that I’ve covered what we DON’T get with this story, let me tell you what we DO get. What we get in this second chance for Elizabeth is a man who is so very beautiful both inside and out. Not obnoxiously so, and I’m so glad because it would have ruined how I felt about this story. No, Ben Tyler was like the breath of fresh air that blew through Elizabeth’s window. Slowly, determinedly, he brought back the laughter, the peace, the much-needed sanity, and finally the love that this family deserved, and I adored him! Elizabeth started to find her own inner strength as time went on, and trust me when I say you’ll be pulling for her at every “mom disaster moment” that makes her want to lose it, but Ben was like that extra umph that she needed to finally suck in a deep breath and say “I’ve got this!”. While this story may have been about Elizabeth fighting her way through grief and loss, it was also about her opening up her heart to love again even when her head was telling her it wasn’t right. I loved this story, I loved these characters, and I applaud Rachel Higginson for a job VERY well done!
This is my story. I’d already met my soul mate, fallen in love with him and lived our happily ever after. This story is not about me falling in love. This story is about me learning to live again after love left my life. ~Loc 139
I felt the pain more acutely as they clutched me, the one person they were supposed to be able to county on, but the one person that was letting them down in every way. ~Loc 647
That hope is a lie.
Grief doesn’t get any easier with each stage. Grief becomes harder, more difficult to face, more consuming with each breath that I take. I am adrift in a sea of confusion. I am lost in a desert of heartache. I am broken. ~Loc 3080
The only light I can find, beyond my children, is in Ben and he brings his own private agony that rips at my chest with claws as sharp as knives.
He is both comfort and pain. Both freedom and shame. The relief I feel when I am with him is at odds with my private guilt. ~Loc 3089
I was born and raised in Nebraska, but spent my college years traveling the world. I fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka. But I came back home to marry my high school sweetheart and now I spend my days raising our growing family. In those few spare moments I have, I am either reading or writing Young Adult Fiction, because I am obsessed with it.