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Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry
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Within Reach

by Sarah Mayberry

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This story started out pretty good and I liked the plot but about midway it basically turned into the main characters mentally fighting against their attraction then regretting everything they did for the rest of the book and I skimmed a lot. After Micheal's wife dies the couples best friend Angie helps him and his kids cope. ( )
  Dawn772 | Jan 29, 2015 |
What a heart-wrenching story. I love that Mayberry took the time to explore something that seems taboo in our society. I was fully entrenched in their battle between guilt and attraction. I even cried a couple of times. ( )
  cranberrytarts | Sep 22, 2013 |
This is the first book I've read by Sarah Mayberry and I'm thoroughly convinced I need to read more from her. Soon.

In Within Reach wife and mother of two, Billie Robinson, dies suddenly at a very young age. Ten months later her husband, Michael, is still devastated and having a hard time living. Her best friend for half her life, Angie Bartlett, is grieving but trying to help Michael and the kids (Eva and Charlie) as best she can.

As Angie helps Michael emerge from the darkness where his grief has left him, and he starts living life again, the two get closer. They had always been tangential friends through Billie and now they're becoming friends in their own right.

This was certainly not a lighthearted romance. The grief these characters were feeling was palpable and Mayberry did an excellent job of conveying these emotions. From the sadness of the little things they missed about Billie, to the kids' grief, to the crushing guilt and self-loathing they felt at the prospect of this burgeoning relationship – however irrational their feelings may have been. I've read plenty of stories with the widowed parent falling in love again, but I'm not sure I've read very many where the new love is the best friend of the deceased spouse. Still, I feel as though this is the most realistic portrayal of this trope I've ever read.

Charlie and Eva were resilient as children often are, but they are obviously still grieving. While I wish there was more with the children later on in the story they aren't shuffled off somewhere, they don't disappear. Taking care of them is a big plot point in the story and the issues with working a sexual relationship around the children is addressed (including one scene where someone may have wanted to make Eva a Ragu dinner later).

I really liked Michael and Angie. They had likable personalities, and a great sense of humor that shined through the sadness. They worked well together as a couple. There was nothing forced about them. However, the guilt both felt at every glance, the attraction, sexual encounters, and feelings of something more was intense. They put themselves through a lot of self-flagellation every step of the way. The reader is put in the position of empathizing with them but also wanting to shake them and tell them to give themselves a break.

Within Reach was published under Harlequin's Superromance line. I think maybe I haven't read a lot from this line because I was rather surprised how numerous and explicit the sex scenes were. I'm not saying that's bad at all (though it was approaching the border of too many), it just caught me off guard because I had a completely different idea of that line. That said, these were the best sex scenes I've read since Julie James. The chemistry between Michael and Angie leapt off the page. They were sensual and lacked cringe-worthy euphemisms almost entirely (though he did find "the hard pearl of her clitoris" once). Unfortunately for these characters, after they finished, the hard reality of grief came crashing down each time (including one particularly difficult scene where Michael woke up thinking he had Billie in his arms again) and their reactions often weren't pretty.

While the change from their sexual relationship into a lasting, loving relationship made sense the time frame of the story was sort of difficult. Not only did it seem too soon from a reader's perspective – it goes from ten months after Billie's death until well after the one year anniversary – but much of the acute grief they displayed reinforced this notion. For the most part I was able to push this aside but it was a niggling complaint in the back of my mind.

I'm not sure if the idea of Angie as the second place woman was an actual issue or if it was just a personal hang-up I was having. I truly believe that Michael came to love her but I couldn't help thinking how he would always prefer to have Billie. Then I was sad for Angie that she would never be someone's first-choice love. I'm aware this is probably an odd thought process but that is where my mind went. It's possible the quick time frame and Angie being Billie's best friend had something to do with it. I'd have to read this version of the trope a few more times to figure it out.

Though it was, at times, quite heavy, this was a good read. Like I said, I am definitely going to be reading more Sarah Mayberry in the near future.

I was provided an ARC of this book through NetGalley. ( )
  OstensiblyA1 | Sep 20, 2013 |
I really, really liked this one. I'd heard about Sarah Mayberry's books from multiple sources, saying she was a must read. I'd even picked up two of her ebooks prior to this one, but this is the first of her novels that I've actually read. Based on this experience, I'll definitely be reading the others soon!

I felt she did a wonderful job with Michael, Angie, and young Eva's grief. Their internal and external dialogue really read true to me. I liked their characters, how they dealt with each other, and how they dealt with their situations. Given the subject matter, the plot dealt a lot more with the hero and heroine coming to terms with life without Billie and figuring out their own relationships with those around them, not focusing a lot on romance, really--so perhaps this is not exactly a "super romance"-type book, but honestly, I don't think it's appropriate to write a book heavy on the romance when the grief is still so (relatively) new. Two thumbs up for a sensitive subject, handled well in a moving story. ( )
  beckymmoe | Apr 3, 2013 |
I’ve been a fan of some of Sarah Mayberry’s titles, and after reading and enjoying her Best Worst Mistake, I was happy to see Within Reach available for review. Reading the blurb I found myself a little hesitant because of how angsty it sounded, but I wanted to give it a go.

Angie had been Billie’s best friend ever since they were in boarding school together. They have very different personalities; Billie being more outgoing and Angie being more reserved. Their friendship and love for one another lasted through school and into adulthood. Angie comes over to celebrate Billie’s birthday with Billie’s family: husband Michael, and their two kids, Charlie and Eva. Everyone is having the time of their lives when Billie suddenly keels over and dies of an undiagnosed heart condition. Billie’s leaves a gaping and devastating hole for her family and for Angie.

Ten months have passed since Billie’s death, and Angie has managed to start living life again without the overwhelming feeling of grief. But Michael is still struggling and Angie notices that Michael needs to come out of his grief a little not only for the sake of his two children, but for himself. Angie becomes their rock with looking after the children when needed, and becoming Michael’s friend. With Michael and Angie becoming closer to one another, an unwelcome and surprising attraction forms between them. Michael is agonised over what he feels is a betrayal to his dead wife, and Angie feels if she’s being disloyal to her best friend.

I enjoyed this book, but throughout the book I was left feeling uncomfortable. It’s not because of Michael and Angie loving one another because nothing would have ever happened between them if Billie was alive as they were never attracted to one another. What left me feeling somewhat uncomfortable was that only 10 months to nearly a year had passed when the romance takes place. And after you’ve been married for over 7 years to the love of your life, one year hardly seems enough to fall in love with someone else. So I feel very conflicted about this book.

There’s no instant love or get into bed straight away. Angie and Michael’s feelings for one another slowly grow with the more time they spend together. And they both agonise over their feelings because of how much they loved Billie. Angie I really liked as her love for Billie and the love of her god-children was shown throughout the entire book. The kids well being came first, and I loved that her love for the kids felt natural. She tries to ignore how attractive Michael is but the more time she spends with him and the deeper their friendship grows, the harder it becomes to ignore.

Michael agonised most about his attraction to Angie because as far as he was concerned, he thought he would only love Billie for the rest of his life. Michael’s reactions to Angie where he was distant at times was totally understandable. When he starts to notice Angie as a woman and not just a friend, it causes him many nights of frustrations – not only sexually – but emotionally also. As the book went on and they finally acted on their attraction, it was romantic.

But whilst reading I still felt uncomfortable, and I was uncomfortable because of how Angie was telling him that Michael is only human, and that he has to start living again after the death of Angie and that he can’t live a life as a monk for the rest of his life. What she was saying was very true, but it’s only been nearly a year since Billie’s death. And that’s what bothered me throughout the whole novel. Why was a year chosen for the romance to begin? Why not at least two years which for me I would have felt much more comfortable as a reader. One year hardly seems enough time at all.

Another issue I had with the book was how well Eva was dealing with her mother’s death. There were no issues with her. She was the perfect six year old who loved Auntie Angie, and after catching Auntie Angie with Daddy, she had no problems or issues with it. That for me felt as if everything was made perfectly and smoothly for the romance with no obstacles.

I would have enjoyed this book so much if only the time of setting was different. One year left me feeling very uncomfortable as a reader for Angie and Michael to fall in love with another. And because of that, I was left unsatisfied as a reader.

I give Within Reach a C. ( )
  LouBookPusher | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0373607199, Mass Market Paperback)

Being a single dad was never on Michael Young's agenda. Yet with the sudden loss of his wife, that's exactly the role he has. On his best days, he thinks he can handle it. On his worst… Luckily, family friend Angie Bartlett has his back, easily stepping in to help out.

Lately, though, something has changed.

Michael is noticing exactly how gorgeous Angie is, and how single she is. She's constantly in his thoughts and he feels an attraction he never expected. Does he dare disrupt the very good thing they have going? If they have a fling that goes nowhere, he stands to lose everything—including her. But if they make it work, he stands to gain everything!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:28 -0400)

"Being a single dad was never on Michael Young's agenda. Yet with the sudden loss of his wife, that's exactly the role he has. On his best days, he thinks he can handle it. On his worst ... Luckily, family friend Angie Bartlett has his back, easily stepping in to help out. Lately, though, something has changed. Michael is noticing exactly how gorgeous Angie is, and how single she is. She's constantly in his thoughts and he feels an attraction he never expected. Does he dare disrupt the very good thing they have going? If they have a fling that goes nowhere, he stands to lose everything-including her. But if they make it work, he stands to gain everything" -- Cover verso.… (more)

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