Ya’ll. I can’t with this book. I literally can’t.
This shit is why I read. Go read it.
Not enough? Right. Word minimums.
I read FaintingViolet’s recommendation of this book a few weeks ago (I think? I don’t know how time works anymore). Both this book and the first in the series were waitlisted, so I put my name down and promptly forgot about it. So much so that I forgot that this is the second in the series and didn’t realize it until I was well into the novel already. I’m sure I’ll get more out of this book when I inevitably read it again after having read the first, but here we are.
Plot: Corporate lawyer quits job, because being a corporate lawyer specializing in defending major corporations from liability lawsuits is a soul sucking garbage job, after having won a small lottery jackpot with her best friends. She thought she’d be happy once she stopped having her soul sucked out of her, but it turned out she was carrying a lot of guilt over the terrible clients she represented. So she goes to apologise to the last family she dealt with directly in mediation over a settlement related to a young man overdosing on prescription painkillers. There, she meets the man’s brother, who is not friendly. Only while he doesn’t want her apologies, he does need her help, because he wants to start up a wellness camp to help people struggling with addiction and is convinced her presence, as a fake fiancee, will help his cause. Shenanigans ensue.
Ya’ll. This book is so goddamn sweet and heartbreaking and hopeful. For all the tropes that are used, the characters are so well fleshed out that I found myself predicting what people were going to say and do – not because the plot or dialogue was rote, but because I was getting to know the characters so well. Also, she did law things and said law things and I didn’t want to set the book on fire, which is very rare indeed since 99.999% of all representations of the profession in media are laughably wrong. And the writing is so tight and efficient. Clayborn trusts the reader to understand what’s happening without needing to spell it out for us 30 times over which is rather refreshing.
This book is also so kind when it discusses people who face addiction. It is so rare to see any story about addiction that doesn’t turn into a morality play about people’s failings resulting in addiction and death. Reading this, I thought about the men my husband worked with at a men’s shelter he did security for. People I know living with addiction. People deeply in the throes of addiction that would likely take their life. Many of them had stories like the addicts in this book. Blue collar workers who had been injured on the job and given opioids by their doctors they could never go off of. People with chronic health conditions that had tried absolutely everything to feel better. And yes, people who made mistakes that don’t make them any less human. That we can and should care about them. That it is only natural that we would.
This book is about loss and pain and grief and SO MUCH GUILT and finding a way to move forward, learning to open up, to see past the hurt. But it’s also got funny moments and achingly sweet moments of friendship and family and love and if this isn’t the time to read a book about discovering hope and happiness I don’t know what is.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go read every word this author has ever committed to paper.