Review: Love Almost (ARC)

Expected publication: January 7th 2021, 423 pages

Author: Hayley Doyle

Chloe is deliriously in love for the very first time. But when Jack, her boyfriend of five months, is killed in a tragic accident, she is left reeling. Their relationship was amazing – but it never really had the chance to get started. Grieving but determined, Chloe decides to live life for the both of them and makes her way through the list of things they’d planned to do together – this time on her own.

Grieving after losing someone (or even something, such as a pet) can be incredibly difficult to deal with and everyone deals with it in different ways. It does not matter if it is a loss from a long relationship or a short one as the loss is still tremendous. Last year I read and greatly enjoyed The Happy Ever After Playlist, which takes the subject of loss and illustrates how you attempt to move on. This novel sets out with the same goal as our character tries to figure out the next steps to move forward. One key difference is that Playlist is written about a character’s loss after a long-term relationship and Love, Almost features a character’s loss after a much shorter one. Is there a difference for how grief affects you if you have not even been together long? This novel sets to find out the answer as our character journeys to heal.

Chloe Purdue is in her mid-thirties from Liverpool. She is currently a drama teacher after many career paths, including acting. She met Jack Carmichael while attending a performance at a theatre in January. The two of them hit it off and soon became an item. Soon after meeting, they even found themselves on vacation together in Bangkok, Thailand where they had the time of their lives and even reckoned they loved each other. They also found themselves so happy in their relationship that they soon decide to move in together. Life together was bliss until one day Chloe finally meets Jack’s parents and it is not for a happy first meeting. Jack has unexpectedly passed away after an accident. Chloe now faces the bewildering idea that she is now without her significant other and how to move forward. They were only together five months and they had endless possibilities in front of them so how can she figure out what to do next alone when the future of what to do in the future as a couple was unknown. Readers journey along with Chloe as she tries to find the next steps.

The story is written very organically as it starts slower as Chloe is in the initial shock of the sudden loss of Jack. She goes through all the stages of grief in her own time. The author balances Chloe expressing her own feelings on the matter while integrating outsiders’ perspectives. To those outside the relationship, they have a difficult time understanding Chloe, as they believe that she should not have been as devastated over the loss of a five-month relationship. It is very well done in this story as there is no timeline for how much grief can affect you as you could be devastated by a loss of a one-day relationship equally to a fifty year one as each person is different.

As Chloe and Jack were in their honeymoon phase “bubble,” they never fully had a chance to introduce their relationship to others. Even Chloe and Jack’s parents had not met the other yet. Their respective friends had not had the chance to fully meet yet. How can you create a proper network of support when those that knew Jack have never heard of you? This was an extremely well done aspect of the story as you can feel Chloe’s frustration yet she also understands that they cannot really relate to her feelings if they never knew she existed. It was nice to see Jack’s friends and family try to move on and how it all relates to Chloe.

Overall, the story does have a lot of heartbreak and sadness, as it is a story of grief. There are additional themes of friends and finding yourself, which are nicely, weaved together. The supporting characters were great, although I absolutely could not stand the amount of times Chloe’s best friend said “Babes” in this story. If I took a shot of alcohol every time the word was used, I would have been in the hospital for alcohol poisoning. Aside from this, Beth was a good friend to Chloe and it was nice to see how she was there for Chloe even though she was going through a lot herself. It is a great storyline as it illustrates how even though a tragic loss occurred, life still goes on with both the good and the bad. Although the story does have a conclusion, it is not one that wraps up everything fully and that made it very relatable as the journey through grief never fully concludes. The story was great read and I would gladly read more by this author!

**I give a special thank you to NetGalley and Avon Books UK for an ARC to read and review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.**

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