book, Book Review

Somebody Like You by Beth Vogt

About the Book: Book - Somebody Like You
Author: Beth K. Vogt
Publisher: Howard Books
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2014
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Genre: Fiction; Inspirational Contemporary / Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review: Stories that take “normal” and cast it aside for their 300+ pages are a sure way to win my heart. With renowned author Beth Vogt’s latest, that is exactly what Somebody Like You sets out to do… and accomplishes. We meet Haley Ames in the early pages of the book and learn her three-year marriage to Sam was cut short by his dedication to the Army – and weighing on Haley’s mind is his last decision to re-enlist that then drove a wedge between them just before his death. It was enough distance to hold Haley back from telling Sam that she suspected she was pregnant and now, she is alone, three months from a being a mother and trying to move on with life. That is shattered when she sees Sam again on her front porch… only it isn’t Sam, it’s his twin brother Stephan, a brother Haley never knew her husband had. Now, a widow tries to prepare for single motherhood and an estranged brother desperately wants to discover who his best friend had become. Will their two shattered hearts be able to find common ground?

Books like this cannot be summed up in one word or really justified in the average words that will make up this review. The story is unique, poignant, heartbreaking and in-between the tears these emotions will invoke, inspiring. For some readers I understand that this is a story that may not work well for them, and I get that. A brothers-falling-in-love-with-the-same-girl doesn’t always compute or “feel” authentic yet under the skill of Vogt’s pen, it’s wonderful. It reminded me of another oldie favorite, Tender Vow only if possible, this story was written with more care – both for the characters and for us, the reader, who are give the chance to have this novel experience. What Beth does with her perception of the story is marry two hearts who are hurting beyond just what they physically lost while trying to navigate the complexities of growing into the people they want to be – or the person they didn’t know existed inside themselves. The characters of this story are… beautifully human. I loved seeing Haley blossom into a new version of herself, and coming to realize that regardless of a romantic, whirlwind romance, she and Sam weren’t the best for each other.  (For Haley, Sam would always be a special part of her life, but he wasn’t the only man she could love – and contrary to the impression of him I’d developed, he wasn’t a man who easily “settled.” ) Then there was Stephan. I’m pretty sure that I had an image of him in mind more akin to how Sam was written – instead it was the twin left behind who tenderly cared, who wanted to be a part of someone’s life fully – the good, bad and messy. Stephan was… wonderful. He gave Haley space while still not letting her retreat without explaining herself or giving him a chance to prove to her what he could give. Surrounding these two is also a cast of secondary characters that sparkled with great personality and also emotional purpose; some family members are put in stories just for the point of giving more colorful scenes to books, these are there for so much more.

Somebody Like You is more than a man fighting guilt for stepping into a protective role of many hats (brother-in-law, husband, father) or a woman feeling like she was living every day with her now-gone husband in the mirror-image of her brother-in-law. It’s about the fragility of human nature and the means we can draw from to rise above our own worries. Or fears of imperfection. Or our sense of being “not good enough.” Everything – from the small details to the beautiful rendering of God’s love, is told with gentle beauty and a sense of strength. This is one of those works of fiction that met and surpasses expectations. It surprised, enchanted in its realism, plus, Beth creates some fabulously fun dialogue that involves – wait for it, Marvel references. That’s a sure way to get me all swoon-y, and that’s exactly what Somebody Like You did.

Synopsis: Haley’s three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he’s killed in Afghanistan. Her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening, and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her Sam was killed?

Too late to make things right with his estranged twin brother, Stephen discovers Sam never told Haley about him. As Haley and Stephen navigate their fragile relationship, they are inexorably drawn to each other. How can they honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together, and whose ghost could drive them apart?

Somebody Like You is a beautifully rendered, affecting novel, reminding us that while we can’t change the past, we have the choice to change the future and start anew. – Goodreads

A November BrideComing Next from Beth Vogt: When a woman’s plan to take control of her romantic future collides with a man’s plan to prove her wrong, will the two destroy their longstanding friendship or realize they’re made for each other?

Sadie McAllister is a go-getter – a professional stager who preps homes to sell faster and for a higher price. Of course, her earliest attempt at managing romance was a bust when Erik Davis declined her invitation to the school’s eighth grade Sadie Hawkins Dance. They both went solo and ended up chatting by the snack table while avoiding the dance floor. And since that night, they’ve been each other’s most loyal friends.

Having celebrated the big 3-0 by ending a relationship, Sadie is tired of romantic relationships via texts. The only man she knows willing to put down his iPhone and have face-to-face conversation with her is Erik. Sadie thinks it might be time to put a 21st century twist on the Sadie Hawkins tradition. He might not be the hero of her romantic dreams, but she could achieve some sort of happily ever after with her best friend.

Erik Davis is successful at two things: his freelancing job and maintaining casual, no-one-gets-hurt relationships with women. When he suspects Sadie’s intentions, Erik decides to show her exactly what romance looks like when the man takes the lead. And while he’s at it, he’ll prove just how wrong they are for each other.

But when he realizes he’s fallen in love with her, can Erik convince Sadie their just-for-fun dates were really the prelude to “till death do us part?” – November 2014

Sincere thanks to the publisher (Chris) and Casey Herringshaw (thank you a bunch, Casey!) for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

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