Title: If Not for You by Debbie Macomber
New Beginnings Series Book Three
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 386 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber has written an emotionally stirring novel that shows how sometimes a choice can seem wrong even though it’s absolutely right.
If not for her loving but controlling parents, Beth Prudhomme might never have taken charge of her life and moved from her native Chicago to Portland, Oregon, where she’s reconnected with her spirited Aunt Sunshine and found a job as a high school music teacher. If not for her friend Nichole, Beth would never have met Sam Carney, although first impressions have left Beth with serious doubts. Sam is everything Beth is not—and her parents’ worst nightmare: a tattooed auto mechanic who’s rough around the edges. Reserved and smart as a whip, Beth isn’t exactly Sam’s usual beer-drinking, pool-playing type of woman, either.
But if not for an awkward setup one evening, Beth might never have left early and been involved in a car crash. And if not for Sam—who witnessed the terrifying ordeal, rushed to her aid, and stayed with her until help arrived—Beth might have been all alone, or worse. Yet as events play out, Sam feels compelled to check on Beth almost daily at the hospital—even bringing his guitar to play songs to lift her spirits. Soon their unlikely friendship evolves into an intense attraction that surprises them both.
Before long, Beth’s strong-willed mother, Ellie, blows into town spouting harsh opinions, especially about Sam, and reopening old wounds with Sunshine. When shocking secrets from Sam’s past are revealed, Beth struggles to reconcile her feelings. But when Beth goes a step too far, she risks losing the man and the life she’s come to love.
If Not for You by Debbie Macomber is a delightfully charming novel of new beginnings, healing and love. Although this latest installment is the third in the wonderfully heartwarming New Beginnings series, it can be read as a standalone.
Beth Prudhomme is fighting hard to reclaim her life from her overbearing mother and relocating to Portland, OR and a new job as a high school music teacher is a great start to her new life. She is very hesitant to accept her friend Nichole’s invitation to meet her and her husband’s friend, Sam Carney, but Beth’s Aunt Sunshine convinces her to stretch her wings a little further. Unfortunately, the introduction is as uncomfortable as she feared and although Sam is a nice enough man, she knows the rough around the edges mechanic is not the man for her. Which makes it all the more surprising when Sam proves to be Beth’s biggest comfort and source of support after she is involved in a serious car accident the same night as their blind date.
Sam is just as wary as Beth when his friend Rocco invites him to dinner to meet Beth. After having his heart broken years earlier, he does not have any interest in relationships or love. He has no interest in seeing her again but after witnessing the horrible collision, Sam just cannot seem to stay away from Beth’s bedside.
Despite their inauspicious first meeting and their mutual conviction they have nothing in common, Sam and Beth are both amazed by how much they enjoy each other’s company during Beth’s rehabilitation from the car accident. They each look forward to spending time together and they are astonished by how easily conversation flows between them. Beth and Sam’s relationship runs deeper than friendship but given Sam’s aversion to dating, they do not discuss or think too deeply about what comes next for them.
In spite of the ease in which Sam and Beth fall into a relationship, not everything is roses and sunshine between them. Beth is still struggling to overcome her need to please her mother and avoidance of these issues only takes her so far in resolving their strained relationship. Beth also makes a mistake when she refuses to stand up to her domineering mother. Her mom is also quite insulting when she meets face to face with Sam, but fortunately, he does not allow her disparaging comments and haughty attitude affect their relationship. Instead, Sam’s doubts and insecurities lead him to make an ill-thought out decision that has the potential to backfire on him. Beth is also guilty of putting together well-intentioned schemes that sometimes end with painful consequences for the people she loves the most.
If Not for You by Debbie Macomber is a sweet, clean romance that is the perfect example of the old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Despite the odds being against the very proper music teacher and the blue-collar mechanic, Beth and Sam are a surprisingly well-suited couple with plenty of chemistry. This lovely addition to the uplifting New Beginnings series is a mostly conflict-free love story with a great cast of characters, a couple of heartfelt reconciliations and a touching conclusion.