In a nutshell, this story is about one man's triggers and downward spiral to alcoholism as well as his steep climb back to reclaim his life. The last happens only with the friendship and love in one woman's heart, which is what really matter After All Is Said And Done.
Ms. Buchanan either works in healthcare or has done impressive research. If someone is reading this, do not take that to mean that this story is in any way ugh! gray-and-dreary and therefore to be avoided. I usually sidestep health issue-related novels myself, not wanting to be inundated after a day's work of it. But I made the exception here because the author is an excellent writer as well as a storyteller. Once I started reading, I could not stop until I;ve reached the end. The characters, the storylines, the writing is t-h-a-t good & compelling. The hero 's basic goodness really shines through so that I was kept rooting for him to come out on top and kept page-flipping for that HEA he richly deserves.
There is nothing soap operatic about this story. Such a description implies that life imitates art / fiction whereas this story quite accurately portrays the low-point, rather ugly dramas that do occur in an alcoholic's life.
It really opens with the repeated cheating of two people who were each married to others. What made it more painful was the cheaters were already forgiven by their spouses the first time around yet they did it again and this time resulted in a pregnancy. If that's not bad enough, the female cheater lets her husband believe the baby is his! He is so happy. Imagine how feels when the truth comes out! At this point I'm already looking for a romantic angle and hoping this cheater's husband will end up with someone more deserving of him.
Before I can feel too sorry for him, (and yes he's the hero) the story moves on to his father's death which at first seems like it's just another event. In reality this is the last straw that breaks the hero because he, in fact, had an abusive childhood. From herein on, the hero descends into a full-blown alcoholism and all aspects of his life, slowly but surely, falls apart. Again, this might sound either depressing or simply blech. But what makes this story readable is that while Ms Buchanan acquaints us with the main points of certain tragic turns, she does not linger over it ghoulishly through TMI but instead moves along briskly. The reader is spared that dreaded blow-by-blow ugliness of detail and equally dreadful soppy sentimentality.
My heart just ached for the hero every time he's in denial about having 'just a little too much to drink' and each time he does so, he loses something / someone. Except one wonderful, wonderful human being who stands by him to the very end. YES! He does get a happy ending.
The other characters are just as fascinating though not always in a good way. There's the "other man", the unfaithful but 'very sorry' cheater wife, the other man's wife who is also the hero's clinic partner and friend, the innocent baby, the hero's troubled, mercenary sister, the abusive dad, the stand-back / hands-off / judgmental friends or colleagues and a couple of supportive ones.
The POV is mostly the hero's, his cheating wife, the other man and his wife and to a lesser extent, the other characters when they come on. This works for me, I had no problem distinguishing who's thinking what.
By the time the story got to the romance part & happy ending, I was just too glad. The hero really deserves it, so does the heroine. Theirs is not merely a first-sight-sexy-pull kind of love but one that survived tests of fire.
Because of the story's 2-year span, it might seem too long especially when one looks at the number of pages, not that I noticed. I was just too busy reading and was a little sorry when the story ended.
If asked to qualify this book, it isn't Harlequin goody, nor does it have the blitheness of chick-lit, it's certainly not erotica. More like A Novel as it ought to mean, with a strong substance and a nice vein of friendship & romance. I liked, too, that towards the end, the setting switches to the UK from Maine.
So, I rate this story a solid 5+. It's a keeper.
I'd suggest looking round for a slightly better price than is offered in this site. I bought my ebook elsewhere.