Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Amy Harmon - The Smallest Part

He is my best friend. He's been my best friend all my life. I was there when he fell in love. I was there when he married. I was there when his first child was born, and I was there the day his wife died. I've always been there for him, and he's always been there for me. But things change, and suddenly being his friend isn't enough anymore.
Part of me is terrified.
Part of me wants nothing to change.
But part of me is in love with him.
Part of me always has been.
And I don't know how much longer I can pretend.

Comment: This is the 7th book by the author I try so I'm not new to her style but that is something which I find hard to explain for this author writes a bit of everything, genre wise, with some bigger incidence to contemporary settings. This one is a mix of NA and contemporary, as it depicts the character's emotional journey throughout their life together.

This is the story of three friends, Mercedes, Cora and Noah and how their lives are always connected, even when different paths lead them into different professions. Despite that, they remain friends through it all, including losses. Later, Noah and Cora become a couple but before that Cora does ask Mercedes if she loves Noah as only a friend or as more than that. Mercedes can't say the truth so Cora and Noah marry but they don't have their happy ever after for after Cora becomes a mother, it seems everything is too much and she dies. Now Noah has a child to raise and who else to help but beloved friend Mercedes... could it be that this is finally their time? Can they deal with the loss of someone they both loved?

Going into this book I knew there would be drama and some angst and I totally expected it from a story where out of three friends, two become a couple. At the same time I was glad, as the story started developing, they were true friends and there wouldn't be any issue with complicated situations while they were all friends. Since Cora dies as soon as the book begins, I thought the big conflict would be emotional and focused on how exactly Mercedes and Noah would go past their mourning into falling in love.

The chapters begin with flashbacks to their childhood and/or youth years and we would have an idea of how their personalities were, what made them happy and sad, brave or cautious... thankfully, for I don't tend to like spending too much time on flashback scenes, everything was focused on the subject at hand, as a sort of introduction to the kind of emotions/issues the grown up versions were doing.

I should say the story was pretty much predictable and while one or two elements were well inserted in the story, most of the time things went a very obvious way. Of course this doesn't have to be a negative aspect and for long devoted romance readers tropes and plots will feel repetitive no matter what, but there's always this expectation things will be surprising or captivating anyway. I think that, while the author has done a great job putting everything together, liking it to emotion wasn't as easy, to me.

I know many readers have felt this was well done but to me, I don't think there was a true connection with the character's issues and I read the story while maintaining emotional detachment. It felt as if the words, the situations, the decisions were all well placed in the plot's development, the narrative touched all the necessary buttons to make this sentimental, but to me it was all so staged, so well fitted into a pattern of what one should want to see, that it failed to make me passionate about what was going on.

Part of me wishes the story had been less about external problems and more on the relationship between Mercedes and Noah. Things between them were centered too much on their friendship and at times I wondered why would they even need to be more than that. Perhaps if their passion and sexual interest were to have been portrayed differently, with more sexual tension scenes, more physical attraction details, more tension until they took the step to be together's as if their relationship filled the necessary gaps too easily, too tidily and they were following just a script.

It's not that it's bad they were friends and close before becoming a couple themselves but it was so...predictable. Besides, while reading about this, I kind of wondered why this was even an issue... if they were all such good friends, they should have been more aware of each other's personalities and if, as we are told, things were discussed between Mercedes and Noah at some point before Noah and Cora became a couple, the whole plot might have been avoided or changed. It doesn't reassure me this story has such weak bases.

All in all, this was readable, had its moments, especially the cameo from Moses, a character of another book by the author, and he is connected to Noah - fans will certainly like this detail - but I feel this might have been a much better story in all aspects.
Grade: 7/10

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