Cover Image: Husband Material

Husband Material

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Member Reviews

I've seriously been reading some truly wonderfully fun and exciting books lately. Books that keep me wanting to read, stories that I just can't stop reading, stories that are heartfelt and just plain GOOD!!
So, a HUGE thank you goes to Harlequin, Emily Belden, NetGalley and Graydon House Books. Thank y'all immensely for the advanced readers copy! And make sure you grab this gem on DECEMBER 30th, a definite must read!
Are you like most people and only think of widows as older women and men? Then you don't know Charlotte, Decker left her as a widow 5 years ago and she's still dealing with the after affects of his death. Somehow his urn comes back to her due to a fire where it was being kept and that's when all hell breaks loose in her life but, it's also a turning point for her. 
Grab it when it comes out and treat yourself to an overall great read!
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This book is just not for me. I've read about 30% and I'm not connecting with the heroine. At all.  Based on the cover and the publisher, I assumed this was a romance I'm disappointed that a romance hasn't developed yet. My sense is that Brian will play that role but he is not a likeable hero either. The characters are flat, the plot is not compelling and I can't keep reading. Thanks for the opportunity.
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This was my first novel by Emily Belden, so I didn’t go in expecting anything but romance. I was surprised to find that romance was far less of a central topic and it was more about Charlotte finding herself and figuring out her mess of a life with a dash of romance.

Charlotte was difficult for me to connect with. I found her unlikable, but I got the impression I was supposed to like her. It wasn’t her obsession with numbers and analytics because I read The Rosie Project and The Kiss Quotient and found both of those characters charming, so something was missing in Charlotte on my end. I loved the concept of her having to unearth all these feelings she’s desperately tried to ignore, but I found she was too self-centered for me to get invested in her need to sort out her life. She was very surface level with everyone in her life, including her roommate. I was shocked to learn she’d been living with Casey for 5 years, because at their level of familiarity I expected only a couple months had passed. Her disinterest in forming connections with anyone she knows on a personal level made it harder for me to feel invested in her life. I didn’t sympathize with her grief because she wasn’t processing any feelings, she was ignoring everything to the point of feeling robotic. 

I would have thought the mother-in-law plotline could be interesting and maybe we could find out why Charlotte has never felt liked by Decker’s family. Yet I found myself unsatisfied. Her mother-in-law, Debbie, was disappointing because she wasn’t fully developed. At one point, Debbie makes this absurdly kind/heartfelt remark to Charlotte about how she and Decker were meant to be together, which didn’t fit with the rest of the way she treated Charlotte or the way Charlotte talks about her previous interactions with her

I almost wish we’d gotten more Decker memories. I wanted to have a connection to that aspect of Charlotte’s past and maybe her struggle to reconcile her feelings would have impacted me emotionally. I didn’t like how Charlotte’s solution to her problems was often to run away, not just emotionally, but physically as well. If I connected with her I might have felt sympathy, but I was left with annoyance.

There were many topics addressed in this and I can’t say I didn’t like parts of it, but overall this wasn’t my favorite read. I’d still read another book by Belden because this particular one might not have been for me. If you are looking for a romance with a grieving widow or want another book with a similar premise, I’d recommend The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner.
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After losing her husband unexpectedly, Charlotte drastically changed her life and now only those directly related to her late husband her parents know about him. Shes been keeping the fact that she's a widow a secret from her roommate, coworkers, and other post-Decker friends that she has gained. Unexpectedly, Decker's ashes are delivered to her home and she is left reeling from the grief she didn't fully deal with. On top of all that, his best friend shows up to help deal with the ashes along with all the secrets that have been unfolding.

The Story-
This sort of had a slow start. By 25% I was still waiting to really start connecting with the characters. But once all the players were on the field the story started picking up. I could slowly feel Charlotte start to unravel more and more, and when her expectations really start to misfire, that's when my heart was cinched (That still didn't happen till 57%). So I only docked a star because of the slow start. I really appreciated the rest of the story.

From the cover and title you might expect a grand romance novel rife with meetcutes and comedic relief. But this actually a montage of a woman who is still recovering from the loss of her husband. A woman who suffers from the occasional panic attack.  It's the realization that how she handled the post-traumatic experience very poorly in the respect that she basically shoved it under the rug. I love how the transition is handled from her high horse to her finally falling apart. If you're looking for a cutesy romantic comedy story this isn't it. While it does have a smidge of romance, its not quite the eeek and awwwww that you might think would come from this book looking at it on the shelf. While it was slow to start and didn't have my heart in shambles over whether or not they romantic interests would end up together, I commend the writer for making a story that is visceral in its grief while still keeping it somewhat light.

The Characters-
What I really like about Charlotte is that she has learned to take care of herself. It takes her a lot to actually accept help from others, and it was something I could see a little in myself. People were just trying to be nice to her, but due to her lack of control in a scenario she backlashed in a way that put her in too much control. It just goes to show Newton's third law in a emotional side, most actions call for an equal opposite reaction.
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Husband Material, by Emily Belden, was a romance about a widow, Charlotte, who is using her coding skills to try to create the perfect dating app to find her soulmate - but there’s a catch. She’s a widow, and no one in her life knows this about her. When all of the sudden, the ashes of her dead husband show up in the mail, her life is thrown into a completely different direction than she planned. The book  explores issues of spousal loss, friendship, and general companionship. It took quite a few turns that I was not expecting and at times seemed to veer a little too far from where the story seemed to be heading originally. 

I found only some of the characters to be like-able and while parts of the story were interesting, the book was ultimately forgettable and so much of it felt overly contrived. It took me a very long time to get into it and the early hook that seemed a bit interesting at the start (using her own dating app criteria to find the perfect husband) played a very secondary role in the overall story and romance. 

It did keep me interested once I got into it, but I wish it had gone deeper into some of the more key issues in the story and that the story hadn’t taken such an odd and unbelievable twist towards the end. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Graydon House Books for the free electronic ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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This book was fine, but for me, it wasn’t anything overly amazing.

Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a 29-year-old widow.  Ever since the untimely death of her husband, she’s been attempting to move on with her life.  New roommate? Check.  Awesome job?  Check.  Cutting out all her old friends?  Check.  Charlotte’s all about numbers and algorithms and anticipating and predicting her future interactions with every man she dates.  But what Charlotte doesn’t anticipate is her dead husband Decker’s ashes showing up on her doorstep and said dead husband’s best friend Brian also making a resurgence.

I thought Charlotte was a fine character to follow, but she didn’t really have any qualities that drew me in to really rooting for her or connecting to her.  When I first started this book, she felt kind of kooky, and manic pixie dream girl, which almost had me DNFing.  But I stuck with it and the rest of the book was a bit of a roller coaster ride.  There were parts I enjoyed and parts that felt weird and out of place.  Namely, the romance between Charlotte and Brian.  They reconnect after the ashes show up on Charlotte’s doorstep, and the friendship that is rekindled is nice, as they both grieve Decker again, but the romance felt a bit forced.  There’re little bits of info about something happening between them in the past, but there’s really no development in the romance department in the current timeline, they just kind of decide to be together near the end of the book without a lot of good build up.  

I think this book might appeal to a lot of people, but for me it just kind of fell flat.

*Thank you to Netgalley and Graydon House Books for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.*
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Husband Material by Emily Beden is a standalone novel.  We meet Charlotte Rosen, our heroine immediately, as she is with a blind date, who totally turns her off; causing her to leave earlier.  Charlotte has a successful career with a media influencer firm, as well as creating (she is a coder) her own dating app.  When she arrives home, she finds a delivery at her door, and to her horror, she discovers the package contains her dead husband’s ashes, 5 years after his death; sent to her due a fire.  Charlotte has not told her roommate or anyone she works with that she was married and is a widower.  Life is about to change, as all those memories, as well as her having to meet with her in laws and an old friend causes her grief.

Charlotte finds herself falling apart, as the hidden grief and pain comes crashing back; putting her on the road to self-discovery.  She can’t handle all the surprises and shocks she will learn along the way, as well as her job now in jeopardy.  Charlotte has to fight with her in-laws about the ashes;  meeting her ex’s best friend, who is close to the in-laws, as well as wanting to start a relationship with her; and facing her friends who knew nothing about her previous life.  

What follows is Charlotte learning to deal with some shocks about her husband, and finding the way to heal herself and be able to forgive.  It was a good story, though I thought some of it early on was a bit slow.  The thing that annoyed me the most was Charlotte herself, as she was not only frustrating but rude as well; but the last third of the book, she did get better.  I did like Brian, her ex’s friend, who did his best to help her move forward, but the chemistry between wasn’t there for me.  I did enjoy how Charlotte finally picked herself up, and moved forward, opening up to her friends, Brian and the inlaws; as well as her career.

Husband Material was a nice story line, and written well by Emily Beden.  There were some very good humorous moments throughout the book.  The romance was more towards the background of the story, and Charlotte’s journey through her grief was interesting.
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Imagine you receive a package in the mail containing your husband’s ashes. Your husband who passed away five years ago. This is what happens to Charlotte and she must finally deal with her past.  I loved Charlotte in this book. She is faced with something very unexpected and does not handle it the best at first. She is forced to take two weeks off from work and this is the best thing that could have happened to her in my opinion. During these two weeks, she learns about her past and deals with things she had closed off. I loved watching her grow in this story.
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This book deals with a heavy topic - a woman at only 29 is a widow for 5 years is forced to face her path when her husband's ashes are delivered on her doorstep.  The fact that she was ever married is a secret to most everyone in her life including her roommate. But despite the heavy topic it was an enjoyable read and had a lot of light moments too. 

Her husband's "return" forces her to reunite with her mother in law and her husband's best friend and unlocks a secret that makes her wonder if she ever really knew her husband at all. The stress of her life causes a misstep at work and she's given leave at work to get her life together including figuring out if the dating app she built is out of realistic expectations or dreams that would never become reality. 

The pacing was well thought out and I thought the characters were believable and relatable. It's a good book to cozy down with and had a satisfying ending. 

Thank you NetGalley and Graydon House for an ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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"Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But when her quest reveals a shocking secret, Charlotte is forced to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at a new life arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart."

I really wanted to like this one, especially since I'm the blog tour for it, but I just could not connect to Charlotte. Also, I understand, based on having read advice columns in the newspaper growing up, that being at odds with one's in-laws is a cliche based on reality, but still. If I had connected to Charlotte, if I'd been able to make myself care about her, I might have enjoyed the enmity between her and her mother-in-law, but, instead, it just made her even more boring. 

There were a couple of things I liked about it though;
-Charlotte sassing off to Chad at the wedding
-Casey's reaction to Charlotte's past; it was realistic and actually kind of endearing. 

Overall, I didn't hate it, but I was very disappointed.
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This was my first book by this author, It was pretty enjoyable. I would give this book a 3.5 star rating! It was a pretty Quick and easy read!
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I must say that I was expecting a true rom-com from this novel, but instead what I got was so much more. The cover alone is gorgeous but does not really depict this beautiful, inspiring story of how Charlotte learns to love herself again. 

Charlotte Rosen has been hiding that she is a widow for the last five years. When her late husband's ashes arrive unexpectedly on her doorstep, they send her on a journey of healing and forgiveness. I thought that this book dealt with the process of grief with candor and honesty. 

This was a very charming read with relatable characters.
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I found this book to be charming and I loved the cover so much! I think it definitely has potential to be more. 

I felt that Charlotte was a tad bit plain for me and was wanting a bit more spice with her. I think there was some charming moments with some romance and Charlotte discovering herself through the grief but I found it hard to connect to this one. I found myself getting more annoyed then enjoying the story. 

I think at times it felt there was a bit too much effort being thrown in this one with mentions of Apple Watch, Alexa, and Tinder. I think many would enjoy this one but it just felt a little flat and was wanting more from this one.

Overall, 3 stars.

Thank you to Netgalley Harlequin/Graydon for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

Publication date: 12/30/19
Published to GR: 11/23/19
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Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she's a widow. Her husband Decker died five years ago in a freak accident. Since then, she's has completely compartmentalized her previous husband and her grief from her new numbers-centric outlook at work (she's a programmer) and in love (she's created an app that runs algorithms to help determine compatibility). But then, her husband's ashes show up on her doorstep (literally), and her she has a meltdown. And then she learns a Big Secret. And further melts down. Will she ever pull herself together? Will she be able to reconcile the two disparate compartments of her life to be a stronger woman? 

I mean, the answer to these questions is yes, but it's a very whiny protagonist whom readers must endure before Charlotte gets to her happily ever after. And while I think I could have enjoyed the premise a bit more, I was under the impression that Husband Material was a romance. I mean, there is romance in it, but it is certainly NOT a romance. If you thought Holden Caulfield was whiny, you wont' like Charlotte Rosen. If you though Holden was insightful for his age, you might enjoy Husband Material. I bet you can guess which camp I was in when I read The Catcher in the Rye.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I was quite disappointed in this book. I couldn't identify or empathise at all with any of the characters, and I couldn't understand any of their motivation. It felt quite forced.
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I tried with this book, I really did, and even though it was sold to me as "romance" and there is an HEA, it really doesn't feel like a romance book at all. It feel more like a women's fiction book that slapped a HEA at the end and forced a relationship into the book that didn't need it. It just felt like it wanted to be sold as a romance, but it really wasn't at all. It was actually kind of sad.

Charlotte's job was interesting to me, since I work in marketing, but also sounded super boring. It was fun to see her enjoy her work so much. I just didn't like this character at all, and I found her to be super selfish. The plot of her getting the urn of her dead husband was interesting, but all the drama with her ex-in-laws felt so unnecessary.

I was really excited to see her connect with his best friend, but then we find out things about him and it just made the HEA really unbelievable. There are a lot of secrets that come out too that just felt super convenient and a lot convoluted. I just feel strongly that this book should have been more a women's fiction book, and not sold as a romance book. It doesn't give me the same happy feelings when I read romance. AT ALL.

This book just did not work for me at all. I really tried to get into it, but I just didn't love the plot or the characters at all.

*I received a review copy of this book and voluntarily read and reviewed this book.
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When I received a copy of this book, I got the impression this was going to be a cute rom-com story. That is the exact opposite of what this story is. The cover of this book, just does not do any justice to this beautiful story about a young widow finally coming to grips with the loss of her husband. I won’t say there are not moments you will laugh, because you will, but there is just so much more to this story.

Our main star is Charlotte, she writes code for a start-up, lives with her roommate Casey. She appears to be on top of the world. However, Charlotte is keeping one huge secret at 29, she has been a widow for 5 years. This is something she has never really had to come to terms with, until an unexpected box shows up which contains her husband’s ashes.

What happens next, is a journey that Charlotte will have to take. After a big whoops moment at work, they give her two weeks to get her life back together. She must re-open the door to her mother-in-law who tries to take control of everything. She is then thrust back into talking with Decker’s (the husband), best friend, Brian. During this time, she has to come to terms with a huge secret she finds out about her husband.

The title of this book, comes from a dating app that she is working on in her spare time. While for most of the book, I thought this was so insignificant, however it does propel this story to a perfect ending.

The author created a very strong female character, who while going through this process that was thrust upon her, was not afraid to ask for help when needed. This was such a great book, and I highly recommend.

Thank you NetGalley and Graydon House for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed the raw nature Belden wrote about Charlotte grieving for her husband and the support group she attended for mourning widows. There were lots of sweet moments in this book and side stories that I thought really helped support the main story.
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I liked Emily Belden's book Hot Mess better than this one. This was just ok for me. There was also a glaring error - when Brian talks about his Tesla, he mentions how many miles it gets tot he gallon. Teslas don't take gas at all!
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I was provided with an ARC of this title from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Charlotte is a young widow. But she keeps her widowhood a secret even from those closest to her. And then she received an unexpected package that opens up all of her wounds. 

She has buried herself in an obscure search for the perfect formula for happiness.  She is the algorithm for a dating app designed to deliver a marriage that won't become a divorce statistic. 

This is a lovely story about re-discovering who you are, the ways that grief can shape and mold our behavior and why it's so crucial to experience our sorrow rather than compartmentalizing it.
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