Forever Grace by Holly Hall

In the aftermath of a tragedy, twenty-six-year-old Blake Kendall has found it easier to all but swear off relationships. However, her resolve is not as strong as she thinks when she meets the enigmatic, captivating owner of a charitable bookstore called Forever Grace. Landon Farrar is callous and blunt, and shows just as much reluctance to share anything about his history as Blake does. As much as he pushes her away, Blake is drawn to him for both obvious and unexplainable reasons, and despite Landon's hesitance to grow close to anyone, a physical connection soon develops between them. As fate would have it, their connection runs more than just skin-deep.

As Landon reveals more and more about his past and Blake realizes just how alike they are, she's torn between the decision of whether to come clean or to stay quiet and salvage the semi-relationship they've found. Turns out, you can't control fate, the past doesn't always stay in the past, and the things that connect two people can often tear them apart.

Pet’s $0.02

I’ve never read anything by Holly Hall before, but I love to give authors I’m unfamiliar with a chance. I liked Forever Grace, but I can’t say that I fell in love with it.

I really liked the friendship between Blake and her two best friends. Her mother was funny and her father was definitely her champion. I appreciated that she had an active social life and a career as an ER nurse that gave her purpose. I even get that she hasn’t opened herself up for a relationship after her last one ended so disastrously. She had a lot of guilt to get over and didn’t feel like she deserved to be that kind of happy.

I also liked Landon. Everything about him is admirable, even if he was closed off and kind of an ass. He’s incredibly talented as a photographer, he’s a active and generous philanthropist and he’s still dedicated to the memory of his fiancé. He’s also right up front with Blake about the only thing he’s interested in offering is a friends with benefits relationship.

Neither of them wants entanglements, so it seems like a perfect set up. Right?

It’s not that it’s a bad story. There were a few times I was totally invested and there were even a few times I got misty… What I didn’t do was lose myself in it. There were a couple of times that I wanted to prod them along. They just seemed to coast and I found myself starting to lose interest. Seeing where the story was going fairly early, I was ready for them to get to how their lives intersected and the slow pace just ended up irritating me. Now, you might like a book that takes it’s time building the characters the way this one did…and if you do, you’ll love this book for that reason alone. When they finally do figure out how their pasts connect, I was just looking for resolution. What I did not expect was how either of them handled the fallout. Frustration ensued…

Again, this book has a lot to recommend it. The writing was incredibly clean and Hall’s descriptions created images that were engaging.  Forever Grace just didn’t hook me like I had hoped and the things I really liked about it we’re offset almost equally by the things I did not.