You guys, I fell into tingly-happy-amazed book love with The “What If” Guy by Brooke Moss almost immediately. In fact, let me go ahead and tell you now that my main complaint is that this is Brooke’s first book so there is no back list to go fanatically hunt down and read. I didn’t have particularly high expectations since I had no idea what to expect, but let me tell you – the book blew me away! When Autumn and her son move back to her hometown to take care of her father, she runs into Henry, her “what if” guy – the one she never got over. As they get to know one another again, she also mends fences with the friends she left behind after graduating high school.
It is, and I cannot stress this enough, very much a character driven novel. The conflicts are few and the plot is mainly served up via the daily lives of the characters. If you like your romance with high drama and tense situations – this probably isn’t the book for you. Obviously I by no means found it boring – I absolutely loved getting to know the characters. Autumn was a clumsy basket-case, her son Elliot artistic and sensitive…and Henry: double sa-woon. He was actually a little too perfect if I’m being completely honest, but I quickly discovered I didn’t care. I fell in love with everyone – from Autumn’s town drunk father to the town’s large supply of gossipy old women. I couldn’t get enough of reading about the small town life.
Since I grew up in about the smallest town you can imagine, I love reading books set in rural areas. So many authors don’t get it right though – it’s rare that they can get all the vibes down correctly. However, Brooke Moss excelled in that area. If I understand correctly – she actually grew up in the same town the book was set in.
As I claimed earlier, Henry and Autumn’s path to romance was a little smoother sailing than we usually see in contemporary romance novels. They spent the majority of their time together in the novel extremely happy – and I really enjoyed reading it! I felt really cynical because I kept waiting for horrible things to happen. Not that they didn’t have bumps – they did, and one or two were pretty major, just short-lived. I loved them though, they had really great chemistry, another thing Brooke excelled at writing.
But let me tell you, one of the main strengths of the novel was that it was absolutely hilarious. Seriously, I lost count of how many times I laughed aloud (something I normally try to avoid when I’m alone so I don’t feel clinically insane). Autumn really knows how to squeeze every last bit of awkward out of every mess she gets herself into, but her voice was awesome – so much fun to read! Here is an example:
“It is extremely difficult to eat a holiday meal with your ex-boyfriend sitting next to you. I took a modest helping of everything, then pretended to nibble on a slice of turkey every time Henry’s eyes roamed in my direction. When his attention wandered elsewhere, I rammed spoonfuls of the gloriously fattening homemade stuffing into my mouth.”
See? Pure fun. I recommend this very highly to contemporary romance readers…as long as you can appreciate the fact that the book is about the characters and revolves very much around them versus a specific plot structure. I believe it’ll be released in August, but is available now via NetGalley. Really great book, and you can bet I’ll be reading whatever Brooke Moss comes up with next!