ARC Review: If Not for You (New Beginnings, #3) by Debbie Macomber

cover103911-mediumTitle: If Not for You (New Beginnings, #3)

Author: Debbie Macomber

Publisher: Ballantine, Random House Publishing

Expected Release Date: March 21, 2017

Genre: Romance

Format: eBook, Print (Hardcover & Paperback)

Page Count: 384

Rating: 2 Stars



An emotionally stirring novel that shows how obstacles can be overcome, differences can be strengths, and sometimes a choice can seem wrong even though it’s absolutely right

If not for her loving but controlling parents, Beth Prudhomme might never have taken charge of her life and moved from her native Chicago to Portland, Oregon, where she’s reconnected with her spirited Aunt Sunshine and found a job as a high school music teacher. If not for her friend Nichole, Beth would never have met Sam Carney, although first impressions have left Beth with serious doubts. Sam is everything Beth is not—and her parents’ worst nightmare: a tattooed auto mechanic who’s rough around the edges. Reserved and smart as a whip, Beth isn’t exactly Sam’s usual beer-drinking, pool-playing type of woman, either.

But if not for an awkward setup one evening, Beth might never have left early and been involved in a car crash. And if not for Sam—who witnessed the terrifying ordeal, rushed to her aid, and stayed with her until help arrived—Beth might have been all alone, or worse. Yet as events play out, Sam feels compelled to check on Beth almost daily at the hospital—even bringing his guitar to play songs to lift her spirits. Soon their unlikely friendship evolves into an intense attraction that surprises them both.

Before long, Beth’s strong-willed mother, Ellie, blows into town spouting harsh opinions, especially about Sam, and reopening old wounds with Sunshine. When shocking secrets from Sam’s past are revealed, Beth struggles to reconcile her feelings. But when Beth goes a step too far, she risks losing the man and the life she’s come to love.


♦ Personal Thought ♦

This third entry to Debbie Macomber‘s New Beginnings series is actually a sweet story about forgiveness, healing and moving forward. Only somehow the delivery of it just fell flat for me.

It’s a slow-paced story told alternately between the main characters and – later on – a secondary. I like the earlier part of the story where Rocco and his stepson Owen (from A Girl’s Guide to Moving On) made some appearance and help liven up the introduction of the characters. The following story development was still fine too, even if I feel the heroine was somewhat meek. It was after two third of the book that everything started to fell apart for me; starting with Sam’s weird idea and Beth’s even weirder acceptance – both were uncharacteristic, after what I’d seen so far – and all went downhill from that.

While I don’t usually begrudge alternate POVs, there are books that just fail to reveal character’s thought and engaged readers to their feeling. This is one of those for me. I couldn’t really get Sam’s decision in encouraging Beth dating others for a taste or saying they weren’t dating when previously already admitted they were in a relationship. It felt very immature behaviour for his age.

And then there’s Beth being nosy and meddlesome in the name of good intentions that – for me – felt her running amok when given free reign of her life. To me it read that Beth – after fighting to get her mom to back off and let her live her life – felt it’s okay to interfere in other’s life just because she thought it would be good for them.

What peeved me further was the halfhearted show of regret on both sides of the guilty party; only lukewarm attempt at wining back their love; no grovelling, grand gesture whatsoever. Just more of assumptions and coincidences and just kiss and make up. AGHHH!!! From something with such a potential this story turned into such a let down for me!!

So yes, all casts involved managed to get their happy beginnings in the end. Others might find this satisfactory, but not this reader. If Not for You left me with unfulfilled feelings that there’s too many unexplored stuff and missing pieces in the end.

Advanced copy of this book is kindly provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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