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Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: What If... Kelly Rae

Title: What If...
Author: Kelly Rae
Published: May 2012, Blossom Press
Format: Ebook provided by author for review

One fateful night during high school Katie Wright loses everything: her father, the first man she ever loved, dies in a car accident and Chris Staller, the first boy she’s ever loved, breaks her heart. Fast-forward ten years and Katie is a beautiful, successful woman who has spent the past decade doing her best to make her life all about work, keeping everyone at arms length—friends and lovers alike. But she’s lonely and beginning to awaken to the fact that pretending to be happy and content doesn’t mean she actually is. Working through her emotional challenges while maintaining a stellar career reputation has been tricky, but she’s always determined to come out on top. 

Paying a visit to her old high school, Katie runs into Chris, now a dedicated PE teacher who pines for the one he let get away: her. An upstanding member of the community and a much better man than he was a boy, Chris is determined to win Katie back at all cost. But Katie is less than receptive to the idea, and when he lays down a challenge, she is determined to come out on top again.

The prologue to this book is vivid and heartbreaking.  It was perfect in its simplicity, and right away I felt connected to the main character, Katie.  A loser of a boyfriend and a wonderful father who didn’t make it.  This really set the stage for how Katie thinks, you can easily tell this was the major event in her life that shaped her.

Chapter one brings us to ten years later. Katie has moved back to her hometown to be Assistant District Attorney – her dream job.  She realizes she will run into some people she knows, she did grow up there afterall.  But there is definitely one person she doesn’t want to see – the jerk of an ex-boyfriend, Chris Staller.

                “Why is it that in one moment years can disappear, and any sense of who you are slips away when you recognize a face or the sound of a voice? Even a song played on the radio can transport you back in time.”

Katie reunites with Sarah, her friend from highschool.  Initially I don’t like Sarah.  She seemed secretive and a bit manipulative.  But I really must say that as the story went on, and I got to know Sarah a little bit more, she really grew on me.  My opinion of her changes greatly, and by the end I think she is a wonderful best friend.

                “You are a damn fool, Katie Wright, if you don’t chase that man down and make whatever it is better.” 

Don’t we all need to hear the blunt truth sometimes?  The man?  Chris Staller, of course.  Suddenly he’s popping up everywhere; the grocery store, a dinner at her bosses, at her best friend’s house.  Chris doesn’t know why Katie is so hard on him.  And frankly, I was totally on Katie’s side.  I didn’t like Chris, I didn’t want him in her life and I didn’t want him disrupting her life again.

But then something changed.  Chris grew on me.  Before I knew it I was rooting for him.  Katie’s stubbornness to even talk to him was making me mad.  Couldn’t she see the man he turned into?  Her attitude was a shared heartache with Chris and I.

This was definitely a terrific story.  You really get to see Katie grow.  Being around Sarah and her family really made her think… to be around people who have that wonderful, obnoxious, frustrating, perfect family chaos… well, it can get inside a person.  It makes them realize what they’ve been missing is exactly what they want.  What they need.

There is also a pleasant, albeit short, surprise of a person named Amanda.  That is one classy lady, one we could all hope to know – or be.  I am secretly hoping that Kelly Rae will write a sequel and feature Amanda, because there is definitely someone there worth exploring a bit more.

My final thoughts on this book … I really enjoyed it, and I had a hard time putting it down.  There were a few times that were a little “explainey” when one person or another was trying to relay a history, but it wasn’t overdone.  Chris definitely stole the spotlight and I fell in love with his character.  Sometimes its nice when a good guy is just a good guy.   Katie is intelligent and strong, and sometimes its more of a disadvantage than not, but I love a woman in charge who is not always perfect.  She makes mistakes, she flies off the handle, but she is good people through and through. If you like romance that is a little hard to get, and you wonder if the pair will get their happily ever after, you will definitely enjoy this read!

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