Cover Image: Husband Material

Husband Material

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Charlotte Rosen has a secret that she hasn't told anyone in nearly five years. She's a widow. After having lost her husband after just less than one year of marriage, Char has been a widow longer than she was a wife. But that doesn't mean her grief is any less than those married for decades. But she hasn't really allowed herself to process everything that's happened in the intervening years, instead she's put all the focus on her career which include developing an algorithm that will eventually turn into a dating app to rival all other dating apps. But when Charlotte's husband's ashes unexpectedly show up on her doorstep, the issues that she's tried so hard to push away come roaring back including dealing with her former mother-in-law and her husband's best friend, and you know, maybe possibly actually telling her roommate about her former marriage status. This time it won't be ignored. 

Emily Belden's Husband Material takes a look at loss and grief and shows us that the process of moving on is solitary - as in no one can dictate to you when it's time - but that we don't have to do it alone. 

It was a little difficult to figure Charlotte's mindset at the start of the book. Having read the blurb previously, but not again before starting, I had forgotten the fact that it stated that Charlotte is a widow. And I felt like the entire story of her widowhood is given to readers in piecemeal. We would learn one facet of her relationship with her husband, then something else would spring up and more often than not surprise both Charlotte and readers thereby sending her into a tailspin, of sorts, which causes her to reevaluate her memories, specifically memories of her husband. 

This made things feel a bit haphazard. I know that Charlotte is still grieving and events transpire that force her to come to terms with what happened, but it felt like everything was under a pressure cooker and suddenly there's an explosion, which I guess is apt. It's hard to really fault the story for feeling like it's teeter-tottering a bit too much because we're talking about grief. We're talking about accepting the person you love is gone, accepting that you need to move forward, and I can't really say there's a right or wrong way to write about or convey these emotions because they are so personal. 

I did love seeing Charlotte move out of her comfort zone. I liked seeing her begin to live again. She's put all of her energy into work in order to cope that she's blinded to everything else. When her boss finds out what is going on in her personal life, she forces Charlotte to take time off. So the whole story takes places within about a two week time period. It's a quick read, but Emily Belden doesn't skimp on Charlotte's growth. And make no mistake, this story is Charlotte's. There is a romantic element to the story for sure, but it's fully a secondary element. 

This is the first book I've read by Emily Belden, but it has me interested in her other books as well. I'd say if you want a light-hearted - though still full of the feels - story about what it means to face loss and grief head-on, I think Husband Material is perfect.
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When a young widow receives her husband’s ashes through the mail after 5 years, all the memories and grief come rushing back causing her to rethink her closed-off life and to make drastic changes.

"I’ve caused a defect in every relationship that could possibly offer me support or solutions in this situation."

Charlotte is the Numbers Queen. She researches everything by running numbers. When her husband, Decker’s ashes show up at her door after 5 years, she goes into a tailspin and finally has to confront her grief. To make things worse, she learns a shocking secret about Decker that doesn’t compute and with some confessions from Brian, Decker’s best friend, her life has gone from bad to worse.

Charlotte is not a likable character to me, but she does grow more mature by the end. I felt I needed more background on Brian to make a sound judgment on his personality and connection with Charlotte. There supposedly is a romance within the book, but I just didn’t feel the chemistry and the relationship felt forced. I did like Charlotte’s quirky roommate Casey who needs her own book.

Even though the book is funny in some parts, it is a serious story about grief and loss and I thought there were unnecessary added storylines that took away from Charlotte’s dealings with her grief.

Overall, this was an interesting women’s fiction story that lost focus somewhere in the middle.

Thank you to Ms. Belden for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.
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Charlotte likes to think she's moved on well since the death of her husband Decker five years ago.  Then his ashes show up at her home.  Charlotte changed up her life when Decker died- she sold their house, learned to code, took a job in the tech industry (sort of) and found Casey (love Casey) as a room mate.  Only problem is she never told anyone she's a widow until she has too, when things go wonky (and she goes wonky) during an important business dinner.  Her husband's best friend Brian turns up at the request of his mother and readers of romances know what's coming next.  Except you don't. There's a big surprise coming, one that shakes up Charlotte and her assumptions.  This is a quick read with well done characters and an unusual plot.  Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.  I enjoyed this quite a bit.
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Charlotte Rosen is single, has a terrific job as a social media analyst and is in the process of developing a new dating app based on mathematical data.  Every decision Charlotte makes is based on what the math data shows.

Until one day she receives an urn with her late husband's ashes.  A husband she has told absolutely no one she had. And Charlotte's world begins to spin so out of control that not even her data can help her.

She must now face his death once again, and all the emotions and feelings she suppressed for so long. Not only must she open up to people about being a widow, but she must deal with the rationale as to why she has kept it a secret.

On top of all the sadness and shame she has to deal with, she also has to revisit her not so pleasant relationship with her ex-mother-in-law in a showdown as to who should keep her late husband's ashes.  Until that decision, Charlotte just takes him with her wherever she goes.

And to complicate her life even further, her late husband's best friend whom she has kept at a distance since her husband's death years ago reappears, along with a secret which it seems everyone has been keeping from her (including her late husband) which has thrown everything she believed about her marriage into question.

Charlette must learn to love and trust others again as well as forgive and let go of all the guilt she has felt and try and move on in her life.  These problems unfortunately cannot be fixed by a math algorithm, but only by the heart.

Husband Material is a sensitive yet humorous story of death and the way one woman tries to process it without quite processing it.  It's about trying to compartmentalize a part of your life only to find out you can't really have a life until you open that door to truly become free.

Thank you #NetGalley #GraydonHouse #HusbandMaterial #EmilyBelden for the advanced copy.  The book comes out December 30.
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Husband Material by Emily Belden is a heartwarming story about grief and second chances. 

Charlotte Rosen is an software developer, whose husband, Decker died suddenly at 27, less than a year into their marriage. Now, she is a widow at 29, but no one knows it as she is hiding her widow status from her friends and co-workers. Life is good for Charlotte: she’s a successful software developer and an aspiring app-developer at a social media analytics company called The Influencer Firm in LA; she loves her job; she has a decent roommate; she has an algorithm that is certain to help her find the perfect match. One day, Decker’s ashes are returned to her and she is forced to confront the grief she pushed away, starting on a journey of healing and forgiveness.

This book deals with the process of grief with candour and honesty. Protagonist Charlotte is very likeable and charming, although something of a control-freak. I could relate to her and I appreciated that while the story is heavily sprinkled with humour, the loss and grief themselves are never underestimated or trivialised. Although topics covered in the story could have made this melancholic, Belden's perfect blend of fun and gaiety along with the seriousness, meant this wasn't the case. A totally enjoyable, breezy and fun read with a soupçon of romance, check this one out if you enjoy a strong female lead, lashings of lightheartedness and following a path of self-discovery.

A huge thank you and a round of applause to Emily Belden for such a marvellous piece of writing. 

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel, at my own request, from Harlequin - Graydon House Books via NetGalley and this review is my own unbiased opinion.
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The first thing is that the title and cover are really nice. In this story, we meet Brian and Charlotte. For me, this wasn't a romance but a story of a woman coming in touch with her grief as a widow. A lot of the story is spent with her carrying his urn and spending time on the computer. However, when she got out of her own world, Charlotte was able to see genuine friends who care about her and find her way. There was no chemistry between the main characters but we got the feeling they would be good friends.
Thank you, #Netgalley.
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This was a fun story that got me crying, although it surely didn't start all that hilarious. And don't get fooled by the cute cover, this isn't lighthearted at all. 

Charlotte likes her numbers, they give you the certainty life doesn't. Especially for her who lost her husband within months of marriage. When you become a widow so soon and have been so for longer than a wife, were you really a wife? 

Although she's done her best to erase that marriage from her past as she comes up with the perfect algorithm to find the perfect date, it all comes back to hunt her when her late husband's ashes gets sent to her new apartment. Now she has to find him a new resting place but it's also a change to do over and get a real closure. 

One of the downsides was the romance for me. Yes, there is one, Charlotte does have a romantic interest and he's cute but the way it all develops along with a few revelations really made me wonder if I should be cheering for them. They do have cute moments together but in the end there was this "but" in my head. 

I also think that maybe the final quarter? The piece before it? A little bit after the middle section it lost steam but it does recover a bit. The rhythm isn't perfect. 

Still, Charlotte's journey to put herself together was very relatable even to me, who's never been married much less a widow. Also, her relationship, or lack-there-of, with her mother-in-law is quite a highlight. I loved all the bits the writer had planned for us as we find out more about Charlotte's marriage and she finds out more about it too. 

It's a book I ended up eating instead of just reading so much I was into this, but it does have a sad backstory that I don't recommend to anyone who's had losses in their family recently. I think the writer was very sensitive but it's still a hard theme and as I mentioned before, despite the cover, this story doesn't go light on it. 

I don't think I'll forget the lessons I learned from this book and would love to read more from Emily Belden.
 Honest review based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley. Many thanks to the publisher for this opportunity.
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Don’t let this cute cover fool you - this is not a cute sweet romance novel. At first I thought it was going to be more romance and sweet but i would say this hardly has romance in it. I struggled with this one a bit. I feel like this story was more sad than happy. I think it’s great Charlotte got a second chance at saying goodbye but there was a lot of baggage that was unloaded for her to be able to say goodbye. I feel that all the things in this story were a bit much. I think this was marketed incorrectly as a romance novel.
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This was a heartfelt story about a young woman who has allowed her life to stagnate quite a bit after the unexpected death of her young husband five years earlier. When his ashes are unceremoniously and suddenly returned to her, she's forced to deal with the people and emotions she's shut out over the previous years. I felt so much sympathy for Charlotte, even as she self-sabotaged and wasn't always gracious to those in her life, but I loved watching her find herself and finally start figuring out a new future.
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Husband Material by Emily Belden is an engaging novel of healing, forgiveness and love.

  Five years ago, twenty-nine year old Charlotte Rosen’s beloved husband, Decker, unexpectedly passed away. After completely falling apart, she now has a career she loves and she is ready to find a man to share her life with. On the heels of a disastrous blind date, Charlotte’s world is turned upside down when Decker’s urn is returned to her. Having believed she has made peace with her heartbreaking loss, Charlotte must face the grief she thought she had left behind.

  Charlotte initially comes across as shallow and self-centered. She has few meaningful interactions with her roommate of five years (!) and she has hidden an important part of her life from everyone she knows. Charlotte dreads telling her former mother-in-law about Decker’s ashes and her concerns prove to be valid.  When Charlotte refuses to give in, her mother-in-law enlists the aid of Decker’s best friend, Brian Jackson, in hopes that he can convince her to hand over her son’s ashes.

  Although their first meeting is little awkward, Charlotte begins to look forward to spending time with Brian. He is quite different from the man she used to know and she has a new appreciation for the changes he has made in his life.  Just as Charlotte is on the cusp of truly moving forward,  a shocking revelation alters everything she thought she knew about Decker. In the aftermath, can Charlotte forgive the betrayal from the people she believed she could trust?

  With a bit of a romance simmering in the background, Husband Material is an entertaining novel with a surprising amount of depth. Charlotte does not make the best first impression, but she fully redeems herself as the story progresses.  Forced to deal with her unresolved past, she is somewhat introspective as she works through her lingering grief and comes to terms with a stunning disclosure.  Emily Belden brings this charming novel to a winsome conclusion that is quite uplifting.  A surprisingly enjoyable novel that I recommend to readers of women’s fiction.
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I thought I was reading a romance novel and ended up with something way deeper. This was a story about Charlotte's journey of moving on and her grieving process. 

I love how Charlotte buries herself in code as a coping strategy and I found it to be very relatable. She made some questionable choices throughout the book but well within character. 

I enjoyed this one and was able to quickly get through it in less than a day!
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This book was a lot of fun to read but it had a serious side as well. How do you move on from losing your husband so young and so suddenly? Charlotte thought she had moved on until his ashes showed up at her door. This opened up the floodgates of emotions and memories that she thought she had buried. 

There are some comedic parts of the novel that will have you laughing and then poignant ones where you will have your heart in throat.

Charlotte is a relatable character as she looks for solace and logic in code.
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Having been a young widow for the past five years, 29 year-old Charlotte has made every effort to move on by keeping this part of her life a secret. To people at work. To her roommate. Until one day, her late husband Deckers urn shows up in her apartment after the mausoleum caught fire, and she literally loses it. She reminisces, discovers new secrets, reconnects with Decker’s friend, all the while coding an app that follows an algorithm for finding the perfect match. In her journey of finding Decker’s urn a new home, she learns and accepts a new version of herself.

I thought I was picking up a romance (ok, there was a little), but the story revolved around Charlotte, her grieving process, and the journey she had to take to really move on. All because of fate (fate being the appearance of Decker’s urn). The dialogue was great, which made this such a fast-paced read! There were moments where I laughed and moments where I just really felt for Charlotte. And, there were a couple of curb balls I totally didn’t see coming. I recommend to my women’s fiction readers, as well as Netflix because I feel like this would make a good movie!
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I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for my advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Another book with great potential that just sort of falls flat. The premise is really cute - I like a good geeky plot - but the characters are overwhelmingly lacking in charm and the romance just seems completely off.

We meet Charlotte, a widow, who isn't truly over the death of her spouse, Decker, and who enters a weird personal spiral when she suddenly receives Decker's ashes and has to figure out how to proceed. Since his death, she revamped her life, started a geeky job as a coder, and re-entered the dating scene for which she developed a match-maker type algorithm. Brian, Decker's best friend, is also back on deck trying to help Charlotte navigate her way on what to do with her spouse's ashes.

This is where the book lost me. I am honestly utterly confused why Charlotte, a self-sufficient career girl at this point, falls back into the damsel in distress scheme asking Brian for every favor imaginable and making the decision process about Decker's ashes unnecessarily complicated. None of her distress seems genuine. Her internal turmoil appears more like an afterthought and zero of her actions drive the plot in a convincing way.

Furthermore, the budding romance between her and Brian is boring, completely lackluster, and just feels like an odd match. This is particularly off-putting when taking into consideration what she finds out at the end.

I am giving this novel 3 stars nonetheless because the writing was actually well done, some scenes were incredibly witty and funny, and despite me not being able to suspend disbelief for most of the time, the book did hold my attention. Overall, this is truly a fluff read and exactly what one might want to tackle over the holidays or on vacation.
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Charlotte is SO RELATABLE in this book!! I too am very analytical and numbers-oriented. I am really enjoying the trend of analytical/data driven women in romances. I also loved that there was a unique and real spin to the romance which sets it apart from other romances/rom-coms!

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Charlotte's husband,Decker, died 5 years ago. She had moved on and has a great job and loves to crunch numbers. No one knows she is a widow and she keeps to herself. Even her roommate and her don't know much about each other. Then one day her Decker's ashes show up. She lets her mother in law know what has happened and is treated horribly and treated like a child. Demanding the ashes and Charlotte has no right to them. Then Decker's best friend,Brian, enters the picture as well.
A secret surfaces about Decker and she is determined to get to the truth.
Charlotte and Brian seem to be getting close until the secret comes out and then Charlotte doesn't know who to trust.
I received this ARC from Harlequin and NetGalley
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This book was an up and down ride for me.

It was quick and easy, didn’t take too much thought. But it was also not quite compelling enough that I could read it fast.

The premise and plot were both unique and interesting, and too unique and a little weird.

The main characters (a programmer/app developer named Charlotte, her stereotypically quirky roommate Casey, her dead husband’s BFF, Bryan…) were fine, all carefully in their lanes of slightly stereotyped and a bit predictable but interesting enough just the same.

The cover hasn’t got a darn thing to do with the plot, that I can tell you, so if you’re expecting one story based on the cover (like I was), you are in for a surprise. I’m not sure what the cover says, but it does not say what’s in the story.

What’s in the story is… a little weird. And yet a little endearing. Can it be both? Why not? It’s both.

The idea of husband ‘material’ has a lot of interpretations in Emily Belden’s story. Everything from dating apps searching for the perfect mate to what happens to our bodies after we die. In a way, and maybe it’s just me, that makes the title a pun which is very good… and weird.

Anyway, to summarize… HUSBAND MATERIAL is not the story I was expecting, given the cover art and the title. But it is not a bad story, not at all.

It’s fine.

(I received a copy of HUSBAND MATERIAL through NetGalley and Graydon House in exchange for an honest and original review. All thoughts are my own.)
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Husband Material is a story about a widow but no one in her life except her parents, inlaws and husband's best friend know this crucial fact. 

This was an easy quick read for me. I enjoyed it but didn't feel there was anything really special about the book. Some of the scenes felt to me too unbelievable. The resolution of one of the conflicted relationships felt fake. 

If you are looking for an easy read or a palate cleanser after a very heavy book, this would fit the bill.
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It's been five years since her husband died. Charlotte believes she's moved on until wildfires burn down the mausoleum where her husband's ashes were kept. He's back and she must figure out what to do next. 

Between her meddlesome former mother-in-law who desperately wants the ashes, the sudden reappearance of her husband's best friend, and a work situation that leads to forced time off, Charlotte needs to step back while she makes one of the hardest decisions of her life.

Husband Material is a good read. It's fast and light-hearted. I didn't always connect with the characters. Yet, I didn't want to stop reading either. There are aspects of the story that had me wondering if they were really pertinent to the storyline. There were also aspects that I loved and that kept me involved in finding out exactly what would become of Charlotte and her grief.

If you're looking for something that isn't too heavy, this is an ideal choice. It's the perfect book for those moments between holiday parties, chores, and work.
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This was a surprising read for me. I was expecting a light-hearted romantic comedy, but it definitely had more depth and heartbreak than I was expecting. It deals with the loss of Charlotte's husband and her grieving process. Once I got past the fact that I wouldn't be reading a fun, rom-com, I was able to enjoy this book for what it is. I enjoyed seeing Charlotte's growth and watching her develop by the end of the book.
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