Friday, July 13, 2018

Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Title: Before and Again 
Author: Barbara Delinsky
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: June 26, 2018

Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends―and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She’s thankful for the new friends she’s made―though she can’t risk telling them too much. And she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.

Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn’t the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend’s teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man’s Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself―or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie’s own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.

I love when a book surprises me. Before and Again was a welcome unexpected revelation for me. 

In a fraction of a second, Mackenzie Cooper loses everything she cared for. Before the accident, she was a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter and an artist. After the motor vehicle accident, she's left with nothing. The collision takes the lives of two people. One of them being her small daughter. Mackenzie can't let go of the guilt and the depression that follows. Her marriage crumbles and when her husband asked for a divorce, she's ready to sign on the dotted line. 

With no one to help her through her pain, she packs her things and moves to Vermont. Five years later, she is a makeup artist working at the Devon Spa. She has friends, a job she loves, three pets and a new identity as Maggie Reid.  

How has she dealt with her loss? 

She has suppressed all her feelings. Only through panic attacks, dreams, and nightmares, she allows herself to remember her past and the life she left behind. 

She won't date and the only men in her life are her gay friend Kevin and her parole officer who has shown a personal interest in her. She does not return the affection. He might be tall and dark but only her husband has been the one to trigger something in her. To her utter dismay, her new boss is none other than her husband and the soon-to-be new restaurant's chef is her brother. Even more upsetting is when her friend Grace and her son are implicated in a federal crime. Maggie knows how devastating it is to face the police, the reporters or a trial with no one in your corner. She can't let Grace go through it alone but stepping in could ultimately affect her own freedom. 

Before and Again started slowly for me. It took a few chapters to get into the action. However, once I got over the first couple of chapters, it was impossible for me to put it down. I had to stay awake until I was done with it. 

Before and Again is an amazing story about unresolved grief, forgiveness, hope, and love. I fell in love with the main characters. Mackenzie had suffered so much but she was so strong. She was able to create a new life for herself. She was able to make real friendships although, she wanted her past to remain anonymous. Despite risking her own future, she was there for Grace and her son in every way it counts.

Edward Cooper was difficult to read from the first few glimpses but then it was crystal clear why he was there. Why he bought the Devon Inn and Spa, and why he had hired his ex- brother in law, Liam. As a romantic, I was rooting for him. I was jumping up and down and waving my imaginary pompoms hoping for a happy ending. 

Grace's storyline is weaved through Maggie's present in such a way that there's no way to disconnect them from each other. I wasn't sure how Barbara Delinsky was going to come to a resolution and I was worried. Thankfully, I personally love how the story unfolds. Lastly, if you want to reinvent yourself, Devon is the place to go.

One of the best parts of Before and Again was the wonderful epilogue. I could feel myself sighing with pleasure. 

I can't wait to read another novel by Barbara Delinsky. 

I want to thank St. Martin's Press for providing me with a copy of Before and Again in exchange for an honest review.

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

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