Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for CHOOSING HAPPY by Samatha Harris! I read Samatha's first novel, Somewhere In Between, back in February after I won a copy in a giveaway and I've been dying to read more from her since then. So I was thrilled to receive an ARC of Choosing Happy and take part in promoting it. And I'm even happier to say that CHOOSING HAPPY did not disappoint and I got more of what I loved from the first book: well-developed and realistic characters, great dialogue full of snappy banter, and a perfect mix of swoony romance and steamy scenes. Now let's talk more about CHOOSING HAPPY!
Madison Buchanan’s life has imploded…
Her husband left her for his nineteen-year-old intern, leaving her alone and faced with starting over in her forties. With the help of her feisty best friend, Madison reinvents herself, armed with a new look and open to new possibilities.
Sean Taylor is gorgeous, fun, and young—very young…
He hasn’t had the best of luck. Sean’s track record with women is less than stellar, but when he walks into The Den one day, he just can’t help but be captivated by a dark haired beauty with the sad eyes and killer legs. She’s a little older, but he doesn’t discriminate. More than anything, he wants to be the one to make her smile.
Sean personifies the only thing that has eluded Madison all of her life—joy…
It was meant to be a fling, something fun, with no strings and zero drama, but Sean wants something more, and Madison is just not ready. She’s lived by the rules her family, her friends, even her boss have laid out for her, but her new life is not what she expected. Being with Sean opens feelings she never thought she’d experience.
The the demands of her family and her job throw her boring, simple life into chaos, and Sean is no exception…
Madison is left with a choice. Give in to the expectations of the world around her—or choose to follow her heart and be happy.
But choosing happy is so much harder than it seems.
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Madison Buchanan is where she never thought she'd be. Forty-two years old and single, thanks to her husband of sixteen years who left her for a nineteen year old girl. She needs a fresh start and best friend Margot is determined that she gets it. Convinced that a makeover and a fling is just what she needs, Margot has a hand in setting up both for Madison. Meeting Sean at a local bar has Madison considering some no-strings-attached fun but the obvious age difference is giving her pause.
At twenty-nine, Sean Taylor has had his share of hard knocks, both personally and romantically. But despite his past he has a love of life that is evident to anyone. A chance meeting with a gorgeous but slightly shy older woman has him wanting more ("I don't discriminate when it comes to beautiful women."). When Madison agrees to a date Sean turns on the charm and is determined to show her that age really is just a number.
One kiss and this woman already had me completely tied in knots.
I didn't just want her, I craved her.
First things first: I adored Sean! I mean, what's not to love? This guy was sweet and kind and funny and heart-stoppingly sexy. And sooo thoughtful! The dates he arranged, the attention he paid to Madison... hello new book boyfriend! I loved his patience and his willingness to be so open about his feelings and what he wanted from Madison. This was a guy who wasn't afraid to say what he thought and what he felt and put himself out there.
Madison was a little trickier in that I empathized with her and was frustrated with her in equal amounts. She was dealt such a shock with the end of her marriage and that is something that would send anyone into a tailspin. But Maggie's people-pleasing ways and refusal to stand up for herself had me desperate for her to show some backbone. Between her mother, her ex-husband, her employer (and even, at times, her best friend) Maggie was surrounded by people who bulldozed right over her. It was so rewarding to watch as she came into her own. I have to admit, I also grew frustrated with some of dealings with Sean. She gave mixed signals, she was hurtful - and to someone who was nothing but open and honest and encouraging. I tried hard to empathize with her at those time but my heart truly hurt for Sean.
"You can be happy, Madison. You just have to choose to be."
Choosing Happy had a wonderful cast of secondary characters that I thoroughly enjoyed. Sean's friends Alex and Drew (the protagonists from Something In Between), Madison's assistant , Sean's grandmother... I loved them all. Another of my favorite elements of the novel was the humor which is there in abundance. Sean's easygoing banter was full of teasing and fun and Madison's best friend and assistant (Margot and Jeremy, respectively) had an epic relationship.
I highly recommend Choosing Happy (and Somewhere In Between!) to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance that is smart, fun, and sexy. Choosing Happy is guaranteed to leave you wanting more from this talented author.
Choosing Happy is the second book in the Madison Square companion series but can be read as a stand alone.
Note: I was provided an advance copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
“You are a mess,” I repeated, “but so am I. Life is messy.” I pressed my forehead against hers and exhaled. “The mess isn’t the problem. I can deal with messy. The problem is you won’t let me.”
She took a deep breath and took a bite of her food, a sigh of pure satisfaction escaping her lips as she relaxed into her seat. Fuck me that sound. I could spend the rest of my life searching for more ways to get her to make that sound again. If her laugh had turned me on, that fucking sigh made things almost painful.
“We make absolutely no sense. I get that, but I can’t explain it and I shouldn’t have to. We are so alike in some ways and completely different in others. She’s frustrating and overwhelming and I know that I should be running for the hills, but I love her. Why can’t that be enough?”
Samatha “Sam” Harris lives near Baltimore, Maryland with her husband David and daughter Ava. Born in Florida, she migrated north which most people agree was a little backwards. She has been an artist all of her life, a Tattoo Artist for more than ten years, and a storyteller since she was a kid.
Sam has a slightly unhealthy love for Frank Sinatra, classic movies, and Jazz and Blues music, but her first love will always be reading. From Romance, to Thrillers, to Historical Fiction and everything in between, she loves to become a part of the story. As a writer she tells the stories that she would want to read.
Somewhere In Between