Release date: June 9, 2015
The Story of Us is so much more than meets the eye. I was expecting a pleasant contemporary romance but what I got was an emotional tale that touches on themes of grief, infidelity, love, friendship, family, and so much more.
Emma is days away from marrying childhood sweetheart Richard but the night of her bachelorette party takes a tragic turn when an auto accident ends with a horrific loss. Thankfully, Emma was pulled from the wreckage by Jack, who happened upon the scene of the accident, and quite literally saved her life. The impact of the accident is far-reaching as truths are revealed even as Emma is struggling to deal with her grief.
The aftermath of that night includes the postponement of Emma’s wedding to Richard. As Emma struggles to adjust to life after the accident, she finds herself drawn to Jack and feeling a connection to him that has her questioning her feelings for her fiancé. Is it gratitude she feels toward Jack for saving her life… or something more?
Dani Atkins is a remarkable storyteller and I was captivated from the very beginning. What I loved most about The Story of Us is how completely realistic it felt. It wasn’t angsty or melodramatic but instead felt totally plausible. Emma was faced with situations where there were no easy answers. Atkins never took the easy way out by creating heroes and villains. Characters were imbued with human flaws and weaknesses but also love and compassion and kindness. There were times I truly wanted to dislike certain characters and it’s a credit to Dani’s writing that I was often conflicted and felt empathy for those same characters.
The few flash-forward sections interspersed throughout the book were so cleverly done. Kudos to Atkins for those just-vague-enough snippets which kept me guessing and ultimately led to a conclusion that had me shedding tears.
My only quibble: I would loved to have seen the aftermath of Emma’s decision and been able to enjoy more of the couples’ life together beyond the journey of them coming together. But this in no way detracted from my reading experience. The story was realistic and heartbreaking and heartwarming and I loved it.
The Story of Us is top-notch contemporary romance/women’s fiction with substance and I highly recommend it.
*Note: ARC kindly provided by NetGalley and RandomHouse/Ballantine books in exchange for an honest review.