Two delightful stories about families, and romance. Lots of roadblocks, issues to deal with and many emotions. I recommend both You Only Live Once and It’s Better This Way.

You Only Live Once by Maxine Morrey

Published June 14th 2022 by Boldwood Books

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Having lost my husband just over 5 years ago, I was instantly intrigued by this book. This line in the synopsis, “When Lily’s husband dies, she moves to the edge of a tiny village, settling into a solitary life, her only real company her brother and his family. A quiet life becomes her safe space, with no risk of getting hurt.” is one I totally understand. Although Lily is still dealing with grief, there is so much more to this story and a lot to love. Lily is an author, who writes under a pseudonym. When one of her books is made into a movie, it forces her out of her comfort zone. Meanwhile, her brother’s childhood friend, Jack, who is also from a family with a title, moves into her home as a lodger, while he looks for a place to live. So, we have forced proximity, a family who doesn’t think she is good enough, and a man who has been hurt, but wants to help Lily. All this comes together in an uplifting and sweet story.

I really enjoyed seeing the relationship between Jack and Lily develop. Even though they had known each other most of their lives, Jack left the country when he married. Returning after his marriage ended, he was hurt. He understood Lily had to deal with her grief in her own way, and never made her feel uncomfortable when talking about him. Their banter was fun, they seemed to know how to push each other’s buttons. As much as Jack supported Lily, she did the same for him, especially when it came to seeing his family. I didn’t like his mother at all, she was a big snob and so rude to Lily. I loved how both of them had to deal with their families who thought they knew what was best. As the story progressed there were hints about a situation when they were younger and their feelings toward each other, but I would have liked more about their past. This is a heartwarming and sweet read, with great characters, especially, Clive the dog. If you want to know more about him, you have to read the book.

It’s Better This Way by Debbie Macomber, Thérèse Plummer (Narrator)

Published July 20th 2021 by Random House Audio Publishing Group

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Julia Jones was blindsided when her golf pro husband told her he wanted a divorce. Their girls were grown and he was having an affair. Julia wanted to do everything she could to try and save her marriage and family and they agreed to wait six months before signing the papers. Well, his future wife was not happy about that and began calling and messaging Julia with cruel comments. Julia finally responded and it sparked a showdown between Julia’s and Edward’s daughters and the sons of his new partner. They vowed never to accept each other. Julia finally signed the papers with her father’s mantra playing in her ears, “It’s better this way.” Fast forward six years and Julia is retiring. When she sold her family home she moved into an apartment building with it’s own gym. She changed her workout time and met a handsome man, Heath. They became nodding acquaintance, then friends and eventually fall in love. Her beloved father’s trusty saying is ringing truer than ever: It’s better this way. One of her daughters is getting married and she wants her to reconcile with her father, but is is not her decision. Can this family heal? Can Julia and Heath have a new life together?

If you are a Debbie Macomber fan, you know she is a master of writing stories dealing with families as well as slow, well-developed romances. She also loves to throw a wrench into the works that the characters need to work through to become stronger. She didn’t disappoint in this story. I really liked both Julia and Heath. They were both divorced with grown children and neither was looking for or interested in a new relationship. I thought both of them would be great to get to know. I thought they were honest in their feelings, the demise of their marriages and the desire to have positive relationships with their children. I don’t want to give away any of the story, but it is an emotional one, with a lot of ups and downs. If you enjoy a story of family, especially blended families, those dealing with break ups in a marriage and trying to heal and forgive, then this is the story for you. I definitely recommend this well written story. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Thérèse Plummer, one of my favourite performers. I definitely recommend you listen to this one if you enjoy audiobooks.