FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Random House LLC (via NetGalley).
Released: January 13, 2015 by Loveswept
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (NA)
Sophie Richards has been looking forward to a much-needed girls’ night out: a Rolling Stones concert, a few drinks, a distraction from her grueling nursing shifts in acute care. But when her best friend bails, Sophie gets stuck with a blind date.
Although Brett Nicholson may be the hottest carpenter alive, and Sophie may technically be single, she isn’t exactly on the market. Six years ago she found The One. He was everything Sophie dreamed a man could be—and then she lost him. In an instant, her whole life changed, and she forgot all about happily ever after.
But as she gets to know Brett, Sophie starts to wonder about the future for the first time. With a broken heart still clouding her mind, jumping into a new relationship feels impossible. When she’s in his arms, walking away feels even harder. Now Sophie faces an impossible choice: living in the past or choosing love in the here and now.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Sophie Richards seems like she’s got it all together, but the life she’s been living for the past six years is built on the broken foundation of the past. Cruel fate took away her first love, and while she’s managed to live, she hasn’t really moved on. So when she meets Brett, a guy who has no trouble stealing her broken heart, she’s stuck between guilt and a future, and moving forward has never been so hard to do.
When we first meet Sophie, she seems like a normal, fun-loving girl. She’s got good friends, a good job, and a good outlook on life — at least on the surface. But in truth, she’s still reeling from the loss of her first love to cancer some six years ago. They’d had something of a fairy tale romance, and watching him waste away destroyed her in ways she can’t begin to sort out.
A blind date of sorts brings her face to face with a new possiblity, though. Brett is undeniably good-looking, plenty of fun, and in many ways the perfect guy. Except he isn’t the guy she lost. They go from acquaintances to friends to something more, but for all of Sophie’s trying to make things work between them, she’s still eaten up with grief and mourning. The sadness she wears around her heart is getting in the way of a pretty good thing, and for all his perfection, Brett is no martyr willing to play second to a guy who died years ago.
Normally, flashbacks annoy me, and unless they’re there to solve some mystery, I skim right past them. But in You Can’t Always Get What You Want, they serve a real purpose. As much as I loved Brett, stepping back in time with Sophie and seeing her relationship with Aaron made me fall in love with him, too, and Sophie’s grief and anger at the loss not only made sense but was practically tangible. I didn’t so much feel that I was reading about a girl who couldn’t get over the past so much as I was right there with her, in that strange in-between where you know you have to move forward but doing so feels like a betrayal.
Brett was surprisingly understanding yet invariably human about the whole thing as well. It was obvious he loved Sophie, and getting to that point in their relationship was in many ways a laid-back ride. But where he could have blown up and pushed too hard for her to work through her grief, he was more understanding and accepting of her issues. Of course, that didn’t help much when it was clear she would never move forward the way she was going, and when that happened, he didn’t have a fit or rip her apart emotionally; he just stepped away. It was probably more powerful than any seemingly more dramatic way it could have gone.
I did take issue with Sophie avoiding therapy, though. Granted, I know that therapy generally sucks, and even at it’s best, is entirely awkward and uncomfortable, but it just felt like any one of the many people who cared about her should have forced her hand a little. I mean, it was six years ago, and the pain was still as fresh as when she was living it, so it was only a matter of time before she wasted her life away or crashed and burned.
In the end, Can’t Always Get What You Want is a funny, sweet, heartbreaking love story that had me cracking up and wanting to cry, sometimes all in just a couple of pages. There’s a wealth of emotion to be lived in its pages, and as angsty as the plot may seem, it’s surprisingly light. Brett’s just incredible, and Sophie is refreshingly real, flawed, and quirky. I would say I can’t imagine what it’s like to bear that kind of loss, but having been in Sophie’s mind, it’s impossible not to understand. This is one book where the happily ever after is unrushed and well-deserved.