Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Review - - Until There Was Us

Until There Was Us
By Samantha Chase
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Reviewed by Janga

Megan Montgomery is a classic workaholic, an “IT genius” who typically works sixty hours or more a week and has little time for life outside the workplace. Her focus is on proving to her father that she is more than corporate wife material and making a place for herself in the family business. After a nasty breakup, she becomes even more intense in her commitment to the job. When Megan takes a rare social weekend to attend her cousin Zach’s wedding to Gabriella Martine (I’ll Be There, Montgomery Brothers #6, 2015), she briefly becomes a different person, a woman who wears a sexy dress and heels and who says yes to four dances with Zack’s hot friend. For one weekend, she experiences the kind of connection and passion she has never expected to find.

Physical therapist Alex Rebat considers Zach Montgomery a close friend as well as a former client. He is happy to be one of Zach’s groomsmen at his wedding where the large Montgomery family is a visible part of the celebration. The Montgomery that catches Alex’s eye is Megan, a shy, curvy beauty who sends his temperature soaring. A few dances and searing kisses in a garden convinces him that they can be magic together, and a weekend spent in secluded bliss confirms his belief.

The magic did not last long. With Megan in Albany, New York, and Alex in Portland, Oregon, finding time together was a challenge. Three months after their stolen weekend, the relationship ended, but neither has forgotten the other. Two years later, Megan is thrilled to finally be offered a job in the family business, but her move to Portland to work with Zach also leaves her anxious about how she will handle seeing Alex again. She knows that seeing him will be complicated not only by her feelings but also by the fact that Alex is very much a part of her cousins’ social circle, the cousins who have no idea that she and Alex were ever a couple. At thirty-two, Alex is weary of being always a groomsman and never a groom. He is ready to settle down and enjoy the kind of wife, family, and home life that his friends Zach and Ethan have found. When Alex learns that Megan is moving to Portland to work with her cousin, he wonders if they can recapture the feelings they once shared. But can a workaholic change her focus enough to open her heart to love?

Until There Was Us is the seventh novel in Samantha Chase’s Montgomery Brothers series. (There’s also a novella between books three and four.) I generally enjoy Chase’s books and am especially fond of her series rich in family dynamics such as the Montgomery Brothers and the Shaughnessy Brothers. I was pleased when I learned that she was continuing the Montgomery series, but the book was a disappointment.

Alex is a darling, a white-knight kind of guy who devotes his professional life to helping people and is still there when any of his many friends need him. The guy had been a groomsman in six weddings during the past two years. I also loved seeing Summer Montgomery and Ethan Reed (Meant for You, Book 5, 2015), now the proud parents of baby Amber, and Zach and Gabriella, who are expecting their first child. The matchmaking older generation also plays a role. But all these delightful features are overshadowed by a heroine I could not like.

Megan just seems spineless to me for much of the novel. This is a woman so intent on proving herself to her father that she hides her hobby (crocheting, which she learned as a girl from her grandmother) not just from him but from everyone. She even allows Summer to think she bought rather than made a gift for Amber. She has difficulty being honest with anyone, including herself. She also seems self-absorbed to me. Who forgets her boyfriend, who lives on the opposite coast, is flying three thousand miles for a weekend with her?  Frankly, I wondered why Alex was still interested. It’s true that she transforms and is stubbornly loving and giving by the end, but by that time, I was so impatient with her that it was too late to change my opinion.

My disappointment in Megan does not change my mind about the series, and I hope Chase is planning more Montgomery books. Other readers may find Megan less of an irritant than I did, and the novel has much to recommend it. Fans of the earlier Montgomery Brothers books will likely enjoy this one as well, and the book can be read as a standalone, even though any experienced romance reader will almost certainly realize that Summer and Ethan and Zach and Gabriella’s stories are out there waiting to be read.


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