Kindly received from author in return for an honest review
“Love is a messy thing. That hopelessly devoted, deep-in-your-bones kind of love we used to dream about when we were kids—it turns out that it’s hard. It aches. It takes time. Like a house that weathers the ages, it must be built, brick by brick.”
Snarky and ambitious Dawn Campbell almost had it all: a job producing lavish celebrity events, a hip downtown apartment, and a studmuffin of a boyfriend. But after losing all three in one fell swoop, Dawn finds herself resorting to the unimaginable: returning home to Bridgeport, an oceanside town where the air smells sweet but not much happens.
When a chance encounter brings her into the sturdy arms of John Brown, her childhood best friend, old feelings come rushing back. As the sparks fly, life finally starts to look up for Dawn…until she meets his wife.
Marguerite Brown has everything that Dawn doesn’t: a killer fashion sense, a breathtaking beauty, and a French accent—oh, and the kind of temperament that makes great white sharks seem docile in comparison. Determined to release John from an unhappy marriage, Dawn turns on the charm and makes a plan to finally win back her one-that-got-away.
But after Dawn stumbles upon a secret that, up until now, Marguerite has meticulously kept hidden, the two women are thrust into an unexpected friendship. An Imaginary House by the Sea follows Dawn’s journey towards self-rediscovery, finding purpose, and building a more complex, steadfast kind of love than she could have ever imagined.
I have to admit. Dawn and I definitely did not see eye to eye in a lot of instances in this story. She came into the story shallow and self-absorbed, maybe a little wishy-washy. As many times as I was impressed with her snarky remarks and self-preservation skills, I was also shaking my head and eye rolling her. However, that’s how she came into the story. Part way through the book I found myself seeing more and more glimpses of a different Dawn. By the end of the book I had decided that actually, I really loved Dawn, she had grown into someone I really connected with, someone who I fervently wanted everything good for and I ended up really respecting this woman who was brave enough to take stock of her shortcomings and make a change.
At the heart of this book is the development and growth of a woman who was lost in life without even knowing it, she thought she had everything she ever wanted. This is not a story where a boy comes along and suddenly everything is complete and perfect, this is no fairy-tale. It is a story full of heart and heartbreak. This book had me in tears more than once. It had my heart and my mind tied up in knots. I felt torn between what I wanted for the characters and it reminded me that the universe is completely and utterly unfair… And apparently it has no sense of timing either.
One part that I absolutely LOVED in this book, which sometimes can be more a miss than a hit, was the use of flashbacks. You can’t tell a story like this without delving into the past and I loved how we watched Dawn and John together as awkward teenagers, stolen moments that were peppered into the current day story-telling at just the right time. These flashbacks really added depth to their chemistry and connection, highlighting all of the change between them, yet at the same time affirming everything that had stayed the same.
I loved that I read a book where I connected to the supporting characters in the way I did here. John’s wife Marguerite definitely deserves a special mention. Her story really made the book for me. It was carefully and beautifully written, approached in a way that showed there was so much more to this character than her situation and it was thanks to this, that my heart was split in so many different directions.
This is one of those books that will have you questioning your perceptions of people and possibly even that blurry line between what is right in the perfect world vs. what happens in the reality of the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spoken about the emotional toll this book takes but there is a lot to celebrate and be positive within it as well. Happily ever afters are so much sweeter after an emotional roller coaster aren’t they! So no, it’s not a doom and gloom read, but I love books that make me feel and this definitely had me feeling every emotion possible. This is absolutely a book that is well worth reading and I’m looking forward to following the series on.