Husband Material

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing, Netgalley, and Graydon Books for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.

Sorry for the mix-up earlier fam. Spending hours in the ER and totally spacing on making sure I had this review up the right way was not on the priority list unfortunately, but here we are, and thanks for the early likes!

So this book pretty much broke my heart because I personally couldn’t imagine losing my husband like that. Even in general, I don’t know if I could imagine having to deal with my husband dying and then having to deal with the aftermath. So low and behold my true feelings when I read more about Charlotte trying to move forward in her life, and doing a very good job at it, if I do say so myself.

And she’s such a young widow too. It’s not common to have storylines about late twenty-year old widows, and while this immediately makes me think about young military widows – ha, my husband is in the military so that is a constant fear of mine whenever he has to go out to sea – I know that it’s not always the case. I also felt a certain type of way that she totally immerses herself into risk-analytics to try to make sure that she doesn’t take any negative risks in her life ever again. How sad is that though when you think about it? But if I was smart enough to calculate that too, I know I would do the same thing.

Charlotte even handles things better than I do because I don’t know if I would be able to handle having any memories of my late husband around me, mostly his mother or his best friend. It would just be too painful, and honestly I don’t know if I could even bring up the courage to talk to them ever again. I know their pain would probably be worse than mine, but still. Just don’t know if I could do it.

But despite some of the tears that this book brought up for me, there were moments of happiness, some silliness, and it gave me some sort of hope that Charlotte would be okay no matter what. Grief is a process and I think that this may be a part of getting through it.
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The title of this book is extremely misleading - and at the same time, bitterly honest.  Charlotte was widowed suddenly at 25 and has spent the last five years trying to get her life back in order.  After her husband's death, she effectively packed up her old life and condensed it down to one small box.  She has picked herself up and started down and entirely new and pretty successful path, career-wise, but it becomes readily apparent that emotionally she is frozen in place.  

This book is very emotional and is much more a story about grief and the grieving process than a romantic comedy or romance.  Don't get me wrong, there are some extremely funny moments and there is romance, but it is strongly tempered with a dose of cold reality and sadness.  The characters are all real and very much growing and changing throughout the book - although most of the events take place within a two week period (with reference back in time).  

Emily Belden wrote this book so beautifully.  It is rare where you can read a book and see the characters so honestly - perhaps more honestly than they even realize themselves.  Without apology or vowing to "change."
I also loved how Charlotte acknowledged the changes in others that had occurred over time, while she was in self-imposed lock-down.  Initially she couldn't see them - and was stuck in the past, feeling that the people she was with at the time her husband died hadn't changed a bit in the last five years - but as she opens her eyes to the world around her again, she becomes open to the changes in others as well.

I highly recommend thank you make this a priority to read in 2020! Loved it!

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, but these opinion are all my own!
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This was an interesting, poignantly humorous examination of the grief of a young widow and how she copes with the loss of her beloved husband at a young age. If you’re given to tears when reading, this is potentially a tear jerker, not because it’s unrelenting sad, but because it’s deeply emotional. 

The premise is that five years ago, Charlotte lost her husband suddenly and it felt like her life spun out of control, through computer coding, she felt like she got some sort of control back and now she feels compelled to code and control everything which makes for much drama when her husband’s remains come back to her and she’s forced to realize that some things are and will always be outside your control.

This book definitely definitely falls into the “women’s fiction” category rather than romance. There is a very minor romantic thread in this but it’s not at all central to the story or the point of the plot. The heroine is not the most likable, but because of her experience and the fact that everyone deals with grief in different ways, it is easy to excuse her and cut her some slack for being not the greatest person and being somewhat hypercritical of others when she has her own flaws. Overall, I enjoyed reading this. It’s not a page turner and it has a tendency to drag a bit, but it was all in all enjoyable. Not everything has to be exciting and fast paced, sometimes you just want a gently humourous, deeply emotional story to fit your mood. I recommend this to people looking for women’s fiction dealing with grief but also want anyone who might be triggered by grief or loss to be aware that it IS central to the plot so proceed with caution.
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I started to read this book, but wasn't into the storyline. It didn't draw me in right away, so I'm not continuing with it.
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Absolutely stunning!  I zipped through this one and loved every minute of this fabulous story with amazing characters and a topic that could go so wrong but in the hands of this author everything goes right.  I read that this book was categorized as Chick Lit (not my favorite genre) but it's not.  There's light to balance and the dark, and humor to offset the heartbreak. I fell in love with these characters and the writing pulled me in until I felt every up and down of Charlotte's journey through her grief to her happy ending. This is my first read by this author and I immediately bought another one of her books when I finished this one.  Her writing is mesmerizing with uniquely complex characters and a storyline with all the feels when a young widow is catapulted into the past as she's trying to move forward and date again.  Lots of laughs with that whole ordeal!  I loved the way Charlotte divided her life into the Before and After and was successful in keeping the two separated until her husband's ashes makes an unexpected appearance. That one event opened old wounds, lead to a couple of twists that were shocking and provided several hilarious moments in the story. I laughed and cried and cheered for Charlotte as she finally worked her way past her grief with the help of an old friend to find love again. Her love interest was fairly obvious but their backstory was heart wrenching as it unfolds in flashbacks. The romance was wonderfully sweet and sexy and a lovely part of the story.  I read a lot of books and this is one of my favorites.  A must read!  I voluntarily reviewed an ARC.
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I loved the opening to this novel even if I did drag on a bit. I had to push through to get to the meat of the story but once there I was delighted. I thought the representation of a young window grieving was spot on and necessary in the genre, however I would use caution when recommending this because of that.
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Favorite Quotes:

She’s wearing a size XL Slayer T-shirt as a dress with a choke chain and Dr. Martens combat boots. The cool thing about Los Angeles is that one man’s freak show is another’s fashion icon.

“Hey, can you hand me scissors from the junk drawer?” Casey instead pulls a switchblade from her bra and cocks it open with the flick of her finger. They must not happen often, but I can tell she lives for moments like this.

Not a single inch of her body jiggles, especially not her fake double Ds. That’s the difference between a New York girl like myself and an LA chick like Gemma. My closet has Spanx, hers does not.

He’s my late husband’s friend. Widow Code would say it’s a lane I should never swim in—even though I kind of cannonballed it once before.

My Review:

I struggled with this one a bit as the first person POV narrative was stuffed to bursting with observations and references to popular social trends, fashion, celebrities, text-speak acronyms, etc. I most likely would have gotten considerably more out of the tale if I were up to date on the cutting edge and viral influences, but alas, much of Ms. Belden’s cleverness sailed right over my unbleached head as I am long past the hip, chic, or cool brands and labels stage and have well and fully eased into the softly textured, comfortable, stiletto-free and gentle lifestyle that I plan to continue to indulge in between middle-age and the dirt-nap.  However, I understood the intent even though I was unfamiliar with much of the what or the who she was inferring half the time.  

I also found it a rather arduous undertaking to fully appreciate the main character of Charlotte, as she was rather obnoxiously self-involved, driven and fraught with tension.  Charlotte’s narrative frequently seemed to spin with a negative frenetic energy that kept me on edge, yet I couldn’t quit on her, as despite my lack of ease with Charlotte’s selfishness, and my ignorance of the current icons of popular culture, Ms. Belden’s storylines hooked me while her wit and snarky humor reeled me in and kept a smirk on my face.  I was intrigued and needed to know the full story while hoping I wasn’t heeding a siren's call that was luring me to meet my demise on the rocks… I’ve been fooled before.  

I am glad I stuck with it as Charlotte’s tale was worth the effort as she finally retrieved her cranium from the dark recesses of her colon, gained some insight, and redeemed herself from her cold, uninvolved, and binary thinking.  I enjoyed her epiphanies and evolution, although I was holding my breath for her HEA as I would have been stamping my little foot and creating new expletives for Ms. Belden had she not given her one.
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This book went a little differently than I expected, but I enjoyed it!

Charlotte is the main character, and while I initially did not get her motivation for secrecy, as the story progressed and I got to know her better, I came to understand. It was like I was developing a friendship with her over the course of the book and she was slowly revealing herself to me. By the end, I was all in with her choices.

The other characters aren't as clearly defined in their motivations, as everything revolves around Charlotte's coping with her past, but there are some other really great characters at play in the story.

Casey, the roommate, is so much fun. She is quirky and open and pretty much the complete opposite of Charlotte, but accepts just about everything Charlotte throws at her and is right there for her to lean on. While Charlotte has remained aloof, Casey is ready to welcome her whenever she decides to open up.

Charlotte's mother-in-law is another story, and seems to be the villain in this story. She's cold and distant and really kind of horrible to Charlotte. If anyone in this story needed a development and redemption arc, it was Debbie!

Then there's the boss, Zareen, and the co-worker/bestie, Monica. Both of these ladies are career-driven and focused, but also care about Charlotte. While they support her need to work on things, neither of them will take any BS and force her to really look at the situation and her life.

We get to know Charlotte's husband, Decker, through her memories and through her interactions with Debbie and with Brian, who was Decker's best friend. Initially, Charlotte tries to avoid the memories, and tries to keep those memories perfect. Over the course of the story, we learn that he was human, just like the rest of us.

Brian is pretty much the perfect man. Well, in my opinion at least. I mean, he's not perfect and makes some pretty major mistakes, but he was a great friend to Decker and to Charlotte. He stayed away from Charlotte when she wanted space and distance from all things that reminded her of Decker, but the moment he was back in her life, he was there for her 100%.

There are a few other characters that I would like to mention, but I don't want to give away any spoilers. And I've tried to keep my character assessments a little vague, because the character development is really what drove this book. I definitely recommend it if you love character-driven stories.

Disclaimer: I am participating in a blog tour through Harlequin. I received an eARC of this book through Net Galley on behalf of Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Husband Material by Emily Belden is an emotional rollercoaster ride. The first several chapters felt slow because it was just an insider's guide to the main protagonist's life. Okay, she's single, was married, and is trying to find her HEA. Then, I find out she lost her husband while they both were still young. My heart broke right there and then. Wow. A surprise. I also like dhow she dumped losers like the fitness nut. That was hilarious and done well. I wanted to smack the loser nut for his talking bad to Char. After that, I finally get to meet the other main character. It was like: Finally! This is where the action in the book started and sort of kept moving.

This book, Husband Material,  would easily have been a 4-star rating, if it didn't drag so much in the beginning. The start of it had me wondering okay, so where's this other character to shake this book up a little. There was a dash of humor here and there and then the sadness of Char's loss was great. I wished there was more than tiny bits of it throughout the novel. The book was heartfelt and entertaining-it just takes a long while to get into it. Skip the beginning some, and the rest is okay. Husband Material could easily be another Hallmark movie if a lot of the earlier background was taken out. I would definitely then watch this book on TV.
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Husband Material was my second last read of 2019 (and #99, just like The Great One) and it was a totally unique and enjoyable story. Emily Belden's novel is a rom com but there's a heavy storyline throughout that made it stand out from other contemporary novels I've read.

Here's the synopsis:
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 soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.
Charlotte was an interesting character. I think she could have been developed a little bit more but I found myself not wanting to say goodbye to her by the end of the novel. I knew she was in a much healthier place - hard not to be when she was such a closed off person before the urn showed up and then a total mess after - but I wanted to read more about it. Totally unnecessary from a novel perspective, of course, I just wanted more. 

The way Charlotte worked through all of her issues really endeared me to her. I actually think we probably could have been friends - if she allowed me into her world, which she had a really, really hard time doing. She was wicked smart and I loved that while she's working at a job that seems so "in" right now, at a social media/influencer company, she was the woman behind the coding and technical side of things. 

One of the things early on that had me feeling sort of  "meh" about the novel was how it seemed like Belden was purposefully holding back certain information - particularly the details behind how Charlotte became a widow and why his mother seemed to dislike her - but when those details were finally revealed it was sort of...anti-climatic, I guess. It's not the worst thing in the world but it was kind of odd for me.

I don't think I've read a book with a young widow before. At least, not one that's also a romantic comedy. Belden approached it in such a beautiful and heartbreaking way. I liked that Charlotte mentioned the support groups she had gone to before and we got to read as she went to a meeting at the end. I think that helped Belden stress that Charlotte is just one widow with her own unique set of problems. No two situations are the same and she respects that. 

There's much more to Husband Material than meets the eye (seriously...I have no idea why the cover looks like it does) and while it didn't totally, completely wow me, Emily Belden's novel was one I didn't want to put down once I got into it. It's sweet, funny, and sad and I'm glad I had a chance to read it.

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*An egalley of this novel was provided by the publisher, Harlequin/Graydon House, in exchange for a review for the purposes of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*
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I have to tell you up front that this book is absolutely nothing at all about what I thought it would be! And that, my reading friends, is a good thing! Based on the provided excerpts alone, I assumed that this would be a RomCom, Chick-Lit lite, toss away book to read between the more serious books that I was consuming. I could not have been more wrong!

Charlotte is a very young, too young, widow is who hides her grief - and her widowhood - in humor. Not even her flatmate is aware that she was previously married until her husband's ashes arrive at their apartment. What ensues is a story that is filled with humor, yes, but so much more. Husband Material is about friendships, seeking answers, finding the truth and discovering second chances. Bolden has a sharp, witty humor that shines throughout this charming tale, but it serves to lighten an otherwise darker topic and, therein, lies the beauty of Husband Material. This is a fabulous story of hope, one that I would love for you all to read.
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I received a reviewer copy of Husband Material by Emily Belden from the publisher Harlequin- Graydon Books in exchange for an honest review.

What It’s About: Charlotte is a data nerd who is writing her own app working to find her perfect lifelong match. She has a great job but she keeps a part of her locked up very deep to avoid dealing with it: she's a widow and has been one longer than she was ever married. Then after a series of wild fires, her husband's urn is returned to her and her life turns upside down. 

What I Loved: This book is super interesting and unique. The way Charlotte tries to separate her life as before and after her husband makes sense and her personality to try to control every aspect of her life after a surprise death really makes sense. Also, the story and the set-up is really unique. 

What I didn’t like so much: Charlotte made a mess of her life and made mistakes, which is realistic and sometimes she was really annoying because of her stubbornness but it was worth it for the unique story. 

Who Should Read It: People who want a unique rom-com. People who want a book that deals with grief and hard questions but is overall gentle. 

General Summary: A woman learns that things don't always fit a formula and that things don't fit into binary patterns.
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Charlotte just received a surprise package at her doorstep. It is not what she expected...AT ALL! It is her deceased husband's ashes. This just brings all kinds of emotions and old hurts to the fore front of her mind. She eventually realizes she must deal with these issues before she can move on with her life. 

Charlotte is not my favorite character. I just did not feel a connection with her like I did the other characters in this book. However, I did feel some sympathy for Charlotte. She is dealing with a lot of neurotic issues which really bring about some funny circumstances. This keeps this novel moving along. 

This is a quirky, fun, palate cleanser. It is a heart warming romantic comedy. This would be great to read on a trip...except you might laugh out loud in some places and people might stare!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.
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HUSBAND MATERIAL by Emily Belden is a story that has elements of several genres. It is a contemporary women’s fiction story with bits of romance and humour. Charlotte Rosen has been a widow for five years. She is happy in her job, co-exists with her roommate that she found on Craig's list, and is working on a dating app that deals with algorithms and mathematics. She seems fine until the day she opens a box that things in her new harddrive. Instead of what she expects, it contains an urn full of her husband's ashes. The mausoleum they were stored in in Pala, California was destroyed and they were returned to the next of kin. Her new life is suddenly falling in around her. Her secrets about her past are now going to be revealed and she is going to have to face her unresolved emotions surrounding Decker's family and her grief.

This story took my by surprise. Being a widow for only three years, I can imagine some of what Charlotte is going through. Grief is something that everyone processes and deals with in their own way, but it seemed Charlotte has not dealt with hers at all. She tried to play it safe, and it backfired on her. There were times I was very annoyed with Charlotte, she seemed to be very selfish and self-absorbed, and other times I wanted to give her a big hug. With the help of friends, specifically Decker's best friend, she is finally able to move on and move forward. There was a huge surprise in the story that threw Charlotte for a loop, and this reader as well, but the author did a great job with that storyline. Charlotte took me on an unexpected journey. I liked the way Emily Belden handled Charlotte’s journey using empathy, humor, forgiveness and love. The secondary cast of characters play a huge part in Charlotte's story. In the beginning, she does not let anyone in, but as the story progresses, she realizes that she needs to let people in to move forward in life, even if her algorithms don't agree. I enjoyed Charlotte’s journey and Emily Belden’s writing style.
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Husband Material is kind of a cross between RomCom and women's fiction, and I'm not sure it quite knew which it wanted to be. Dealing with the death of her husband, even five years after the fact, is emotional and heartbreaking, but it doesn't always come across that way. A lot of the book leans toward what I would call quirky and amusing, and there is certainly nothing amusing about grief at the loss of a spouse. The book is well written, and the characters are interesting, but I still struggled to get invested in the story, and I think it goes back to the serious subject matter with such an upbeat tone. I did start to come around about halfway through, and in the end, the story is worth the read, but be prepared for a slightly different take on what would normally be a very emotional read.
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Emily Belden is a new author to me and the title of Husband Material had me curious and so I requested an ARC of this book in my selection for Harlequin’s Romance and Women’s Fiction blog tour which they’d already contacted me for. I decided to pick what I hoped would be a fun novel and I wasn’t mistaken. Well, the characters are fun and quirky but the plot is driven by a sad event that is what Charlotte has to go though as a a woman widowed at a young age and how ahe comes to terms with this. It’s clear that, 5 years on from the death of her husband Decker, she is still feeling so much pain and that this in fact will never go away.

Emily Belden deals with the subject in a sensitive way and shows the strength of the main character as she goes through life but also the tougher times for her. There’s Casey, her quirky roommate as well as some dating apps thrown in too. I was kind of thrown off by the inclusion of dating apps given that her husband had passed away even after five years because I thought that took away from the grieving process somewhat but at the same time I realised that time had passed and she was trying to move on. Overall her grieving process is well shown and I felt drawn into her world and all the experiences she had.

Perhaps it’s because I personally haven’t had to use dating apps to find love and because I’m doubtful about how “real” a love can be if found there but I also know it does happen for some people. I’m glad she has her roommate to confide in although that is hard at first and everything is hard for her which is understandable.

Throw in the fact that Debbie, her mother in law, thinks Charlotte killed her son and things are even more complicated.

Husband Material is real, honest sweet raw emotional funny though-provoking and there are more than enough secrets to uncover along the way for the character in her search for closure.

Thanks to Emily Belden and Harlequin for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. Husband Material is my first blog tour of 2020. Emily Belden’s light writing style is a breath of fresh air and I enjoyed it a lot. I’m looking forward to more novels by Emily Belden.

4 stars.
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I'm pretty torn on this one, and to be honest I almost didn't finish it. While Belden's prose is charming, her heroine is less so. I can get behind a spiky, unlikable heroine (and which there were more!), but Charlotte's journey and her attitude just didn't quite work for me. There are a few twists that just seemed disjointed and the multiple instances of body shaming were very off-putting. I don't know that I'd read any further books by this author.
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The book opens up wth a wedding and a blind date. The date, Chad, is horrible. I mean that, he’s an actual horrible person. The things he says are revolting and Charlotte rightfully ends the date as soon as she can. It does however introduce the fact that Charlotte has been married. The way it is described, you’d think that her ex was The Worst™ she sounds bitter and hurt by the experience. Then you find out in the next chapter that she isn’t a disgruntled divorcee, she’s a widow. That’s a little confusing given how angry she sounds when describing her former marriage especially when you consider the fact that her being a widow is in the blurb. It’s a bit of a case of mixed signals.

I have a couple gripes with this book. The first being that we know Charlotte’s a widow before we start reading, so why is that kept from us and why is her ex painted as some rude, unlikeable person? All that did was make Charlotte seem really selfish. The death of her husband comes across more like a personal attack on her happiness and less of a genuinely heartbreaking event that crushed her. That mystery exists only for a few pages so why even have that in there to begin with? All it does is make the reader not like Charlotte.

Speaking of Charlotte, she is very hard to like. It was wild, I would hate her, find everything she said and did annoying, and then she would have moments of humanity and sincerity and I would go yeah, this is someone I can get behind, I feel her sorrow over the unexpected death of her husband and at such a young age. I could understand why she never wanted to be with his family, his mom is AWFUL. And then there’d be scenes where she is making decisions and acting in such a way that I, another 29 year old woman who has experience with grief on a massive scale, am like…. excuse me? I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m keeping it vague! But I just don’t realistically see someone doing the things that she did. Not at 29 and not after 5 years of counseling.

I can’t really describe all of my feelings about this book. There are some really amazing moments between Charlotte and her roommate Casey, Brian – the love interest and her late husband’s best friend – and her mother-in-law. I pushed myself to finish this book, for a good chunk, I was happy that I did. It seemed like Charlotte was growing as a person and some of her less likable traits were fading into the background. And then there’d be a chapter where I’d realize that that didn’t happen. It was difficult.

There are a lot of people who love this book so I really think you should give it a shot! Things that I find frustrating may add flavor for you and that’s wonderful. I have read reviews of people saying that they loved how flawed and imperfect Charlotte was and that it made the story stand out over others and I can definitely agree with that. This is not a cookie cutter story. There is a unique thread to this story and if you connect with it, you’ll really like this. Emily Belden can write drama in many forms and I am interested to see what she comes out with next.
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I picked Husband Material by Emily Belden as my first read of 2020. I wanted to start the year off with something fun and light, and I am so glad I did because I really enjoyed it. Husband Material was such a dynamic story with heartbreak, heart melting moments, and humor. Within the first couple pages I was close to spitting my drink out from a funny line I read. Those are my favorite moments in books, where something is so funny you can’t help but physically react. There were a couple twists that threw me off (but in a good way!) and kept me intrigued needing to know what happened next. I loved the characters, especially the roommate Casey who had a totally opposite personality from Charlotte and added great character dynamics, as well and Charlotte’s Mother-in-law who actually surprised me by the end of the book.

I really loved seeing how Charlotte grew from the first page to the last. She overcame some really big life struggles that were completely relatable, and I felt that the ending was all wrapped up beautifully and tied with a bow by the end. It’s never fun when a book has a sloppy ending leaving you with questions, which this wasn’t one of those. The writing was easy flowing, almost to a point where I felt like I had a movie playing in my head. I love when that happens, don’t you? I will definitely be adding Emily Belden to my list of top authors to read! I can’t wait to read more of her books this year. If you’re looking for a lighter, endearing read then I definitely recommend Husband Material!!
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This was a very fun read for me.
Belden writes in a style that I really enjoy, it feels fresh and light. Though the book tackled some heavy subjects, none of it was felt in the writing. The plot was paced well, and the way it progressed felt natural.
The idea behind the book was beautifully executed. The characters were well developed and set up in a way that kept the book dynamic and entertaining. Though the characters aren’t relatable, straying from most books in the romance genre, Husband Material didn’t need to rely on that to make the book as enjoyable as it was. All it needed was the wit that Belden incorporated in it, and that was enough for me.
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