At First Sight: It has been almost a year since Angie Barlett's best friend Billie died suddenly of a heart defect when they were still at her birthday party. In the months since, Angie has tried to be a friend and a support for Billie's widowed husband Michael and their two kids, Eva and Charlie.
Michael never thought he would be raising two small children on his own, and the last few months have taken a big toll on him as he clings to his grief and tries to keep caring for his kids. It isn't until Angie returns from a work trip with a little of outsider's perspective that he realizes that being there isn't enough, that he needs to be really present for the kids.
Angie tells him things he doesn't really want to hear, but that turn out to be just what he needs to return to the world of the living, which results on Angie spending more and more time with him and the children and they start to become true friends.
Before Billie's death they were only aware of each other as they related to Billie's life, Michael saw Angie as Billie's best friend and Angie saw him as Billie's husband, but as they try to move forward now, they become aware of each other in new ways that spell trouble...
Second Glance: A couple of months ago I read Her Best Worst Mistake and it left me wanting to read more of Sarah Mayberry's writing so when I saw Within Reach pop up in Net Galley I quickly decided to give it a try.
And I'm happy to report that, over all, I really enjoyed the book and that I think Sarah Mayberry is becoming one of my new favorite authors.
I loved Angie, she was fun, warm and independent, and she loved Billie's kids fiercely without ever trying to replace their mom. She doesn't want her feelings for Michael to change and she's really conflicted when it happens but I was still rooting for her.
Michael was a bit harder to like sometimes because he's really disconnected from his feelings - something he had to do to survive losing Billie - and it takes him a while to admit that he's moving forward and he hurts people in the process. Still, he was a good dad and a decent human being.
I loved Eva and Charlie, they added to the story and really did sound like kids.
Bottom Line: Within Reach was a solid contemporary read with likable characters in a difficult situation that are just trying to do the best they can under the circumstances. It could have used a little more romance but it was a good story all in all.2/3