Release date: August 22, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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.
Before I Knew is the first in a new series following the Cabot family. It’s billed as a romance and it most certainly is, but this wasn’t the lighthearted read I was expecting it to be and unfortunately I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped because of this. I like to escape with a romance as a break from the dark thrillers that make up the majority of my TBR and since much of this one deals with heavy, depressing topics it wasn’t quite the break I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, it was well written and overall an enjoyable read, I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind when I started it.
This focuses on Colby as she’s grieving the loss of her husband Mark and trying to move on with her life. I did like Colby and found her to be relatable and interesting, but everything she’s been through was so heartbreakingly sad I felt emotionally drained myself. This isn’t inherently a bad thing as anytime an author makes me feel something I’m impressed because that’s one of the main reasons I read a book in the first place. Alec had a similarly devastating history as well so there wasn’t much levity to break up the angst they were both experiencing.
Overall this was a well thought out and well written story that was on the darker side compared to most romances I read. I was interested in the characters but not overly invested in them which is a shame. I don’t know that I’ll be continuing with this series as I prefer to keep my romances light and my thrillers dark, but if you want a romance that has depth and darkness without violence and gore try this!
Overall rating: 3/5
Thanks to Booksparks for my review copy.