Read my review of the previous book in this duology, This Will Hurt I.

The first book in this set didn’t end on an explicit cliffhanger so much as a hinge moment in these main characters’ lives. I adore being an advanced reader for this author, but the downside was definitely the wait between installments to this overarching story. True to form, I stayed up way too late reading this book once I got my copy and regret nothing. And for those curious whether the title stays true to form, I started getting those angst-induced stomach clenches at 2% and teary-eyed at 6%.

Just like in the first book, Dee highlights important moments in a series of years without ever making me feel like I was missing context or plot/character development. Jake and Roe continue to be, to put it mildly, obsessed with each other—in a good friendship way but also in a more complicated way than when they were both bachelors. Interestingly enough, fatherhood has not dramatically changed either of them, but Roe is forced to be significantly different as a husband.

I won’t lie: Cheating is a really hard limit for me in fiction, and Dee makes one of a short-list of authors that I would even consider giving a chance if a book contains that element. However, I will acknowledge that the cheating is not a plot point so much as an unfortunate result of the other issues going on in Roe’s life. So, as much as I hated what he was doing, I still absolutely loved him and Jake together. The intense moment when they truly reconnect in this story is deserved, even if it came from a place influenced in no small part by trauma and shock. Roe and Jake also definitely try to do the “right” thing afterward, but Dee writes truly human characters and real life doesn’t necessarily cooperate with best intentions. Interestingly enough, I anticipated a much more difficult path for these characters, which made it harder to enjoy the sweet moments between them. But again, real life doesn’t often include the huge dramatics of fiction.

Side note: This book had so many cameos and references to other stories set in Dee’s interconnected universe. No knowledge of any of them is necessary to enjoy this book, but I adored the lovely small-world moments, even if only from the reader’s perspective.

It’s not a spoiler to reveal that the main characters of a romance novel get their happily ever after. In the process, Dee has continued to solidify herself as a truly amazing author that I trust with difficult subject matter. (And subject matter that just doesn’t appeal to me personally. This book made me care about parenting issues!) The ending of this book ultimately felt much more like a beginning than an ending, as Jake and Roe are able to live their best lives, together, at last. And while it likely won’t be one of my absolute favorite Dee stories, this book lived up to all of my high expectations, and I strongly recommend it to both fans of the author and potential new readers.

Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars
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