Somebody Like You
About This Book
Can a young widow find love again with her husband’s reflection?
Haley’s three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he’s killed in Afghanistan. Her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening—and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her Sam was killed?
Too late to make things right with his estranged twin brother, Stephen discovers Sam never told Haley about him. As Haley and Stephen navigate their fragile relationship, they are inexorably drawn to each other. How can they honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together—and whose ghost could drive them apart?
Somebody Like You lived up to my expectations in terms of quality writing and an engaging novel, but it fell short of my hopes for an original, unpredictable story. By page 50 I had made a note to myself of how the falling-in-love-while-having-a-baby storyline would play out, and I was disappointed to be proven exactly right. The way the book relied heavily on the pregnant woman/new mother angle also made it feel less like a contemporary romance and more like women’s fiction at times.
The overall writing was solid and engaging, and definitely held my interest to the end, but I was never able to full connect to the characters. Haley was so firmly ensconced in her world of impending motherhood that I, as a single woman reader, couldn’t relate to her, despite the universal themes of feeling unloved and unwilling to ask for help that she supposedly represented. Likewise Stephen was squeezed a little too tightly into a perfect knight-in-shining armor role—the handsome man who fixes houses, cooks gourmet meals, and has a magic touch with fussy newborns—for me to really fall in love with him as a reader.
My biggest difficulty with this book was the implausibility of the central conflict—that no one had ever told Haley her husband had a twin brother. For an entire family, however divorced and dysfunctional, to completely refuse to talk about a family member’s existence for more than 12 years was just too much of a stretch for me, especially when Stephen’s mother responded to Haley’s questioning with “It wasn’t my place to tell you.” (If it’s not a mother’s place to talk about one of her children, then I don’t know whose it could be.) Nor was I convinced that Stephen’s central motivation as a character was plausible, that Haley was his one and only chance to reconnect with the brother he hadn’t seen or spoken to in 12 years. I may have been able to accept it if none of his brother’s Army connections were available, but when Stephen actually has the chance to get to know some of the men who served with his brother during those 12 years, including men who were with him right up until the day he was killed, why would Stephen keep insisting that his best hope for reconnecting was through the widow who’d only known his brother for three years, and for most of which they were separated by deployments? I’m afraid this angle of the story just didn’t make sense to me.
Still, the overall pace and flow of the story were good right up until the last few chapters, when the author skipped ahead in time by a few months and I felt like I’d missed a significant period of growth and evolution for Haley and Stephen and their feelings for each other. I also would have preferred to see just a bit more denouement, a bit longer glimpse of their happily-ever-after at the end.
Some of the deeper subject matter in this story, about broken families and grieving widows, combined with several detailed chapters about Haley’s labor and delivery, make me reluctant to recommend this book for younger readers, but this story will certainly appeal to adult women who love to read contemporary romance or women’s fiction. The spiritual content is minimal enough and appropriate to the story without being overly preachy, so it may appeal to non-Christian readers, and possibly to military wives and widows in particular.
Overall, falling in love with your late husband’s identical twin may sound impossible (or even a little disturbing), but Beth Vogt has crafted a solid contemporary romance around this very premise. While the combination of a single-mom heroine and knight-to-the-constant-rescue hero isn’t original, Somebody Like You adds an estranged twin brother and wildly dysfunctional family to that mix, and the result is a sweet romance about discovering forgiveness and second chances in the unlikeliest places.
Available May 13, 2014 from Howard Books