Before I Knew
by Jamie Beck
Release Date: August 22, 2017
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Book #1 in the Cabots series
Number of Pages: 354
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Contemporary Romance M/F
Read 5/20/19 to 5/21/19
On the second anniversary of her husband’s suicide, Colby Cabot-Baxter is ready to let go of her grief and the mistakes made during her turbulent marriage. Her fresh start comes in the form of A CertainTea, the restaurant she’s set to open along Lake Sandy, Oregon, with help from her family. But when her executive chef quits just weeks before the grand opening, Colby is pressured to hire old family friend Alec Morgan. His award-winning reputation could generate buzz, but their friendship has withered since her husband’s reckless dare cost Alec’s brother his life.
Distracted by guilty secrets concerning the tragedy that changed his and Colby’s lives, Alec self-destructed and lost his famed restaurant. With his career in tatters, he’s determined to use this opportunity to redeem his reputation and to help the woman he’s loved from afar find happiness again.
But secrets have a way of coming out. When Alec’s do, they might destroy the new life he and Colby have rebuilt together.
There is no doubt that Colby and Alec have chemistry. I don’t quite understand why barely anyone else seems to see it, although I guess many of them could be picking their truths. Many times, in books, when a couple has known each other most of their lives it’s the woman who always pined for the man. I liked that, in this story, Alec had always had a thing for Colby instead of vice versa.
It seems like there are a lot of issues for this couple to get past before they even decide to become a couple. But truly, the issues are with themselves more than any issues with each other or people in their lives. While they addressed the outside issues, Alec’s dad’s hatred of Colby, Colby being Alec’s boss, etc., neither of them truly addressed their internal struggles. Choosing, instead, to make the other happy no matter what. Well…actually Alec chose to make Colby happy no matter what. Often putting his own feelings on the back burner to cede to her. While Colby didn’t want to rock the boat with Alec, she didn’t necessarily dig deep into what he wanted so she could do more for him. Which made it hard to sympathize with her sometimes. However, I did feel she redeemed herself by the end…with a little help from her brother.
There are a lot of serious issues addressed in this story so it’s not all fun and rainbows. The bright spots in this book generally come from that chemistry I mentioned before. I can’t help but enjoy a story that fills me with butterflies, even if it’s tearing my heart out at the same time.
I loved how Alec’s mom always showed him her unconditional love. I wish things could be different for him and his family. Maybe someday they will be. But it’s obvious his mom always has his back. On the flip-side, it was troubling to me the way Colby’s parents treat her. It’s not terrible and abusive, but they definitely take her for granted and take advantage of her generous and kind nature. Her siblings aren’t much better, but I felt that as she started speaking up for herself more they were realizing how much she truly does for them.
Although I wasn’t crazy about their attitudes toward Colby, I actually really love her brother and half-sister. I think Hunter’s story is going to be different than a lot of other romance stories out there since he’s already married to the love of his life. I can’t wait to read how the author keeps them together.