What would you do if you’re “what if” guy showed up at the lowest point of your life?
(Autumn Cole clocked hers with an encyclopedia.)
After losing her job at a swanky Seattle art gallery and finding out her father has been hospitalized, single mother Autumn Cole reluctantly returns to her tiny hometown of Fairfield, Washington to put the pieces of her life back together.
Her disgruntled twelve-year old son isn’t thrilled about going from hip to hick, but Autumn’s got it worse. She resumes her role as the daughter of the town drunk, promptly facing a crisis with her father that’s been decades in the making.
Running into Henry Tobler, and nearly breaking his nose, is almost more than she can handle, but can rediscovering love–and herself–with her “what if” guy teach Autumn to forgive before it’s too late?
Review: I wanted to read this story because of one of the first lines in the blurb – ‘Autumn Cole clocked hers with an encyclopedia.’ After accidentally hitting my husband with a 2×4 (among other things…and all totally accidental, I swear), I could relate! The opening language had me completely hooked (see Favorite Quote), but I didn’t have my hopes up for the language and style to continue. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised! Brooke Moss’ The “What If” Guy was not all humorous, but also very poignant and managed to capture various emotions so perfectly, you felt like you were talking with your best friend and seeing her heartache.
Autumn Cole is a single mom who just lost her job in Seattle and is heading back to her small hometown, the place she vowed never to return. I could identify with her character and the need to not return to a small town upbringing, once you have been to the ‘outside’ world. The author did a wonderful job of capturing that small-town mentality, where everyone knows everybody else’s business, whether you want them to or not. Autumn’s character ran away, and now has to go home and face the music of her actions; such as, when she didn’t want her best friend to know she had become pregnant and had to drop out of school. Because of her ‘shame,’ Autumn never spoke to her childhood best friend, Holly, since then.
All of the characters in this story are perfectly drawn. The forgiving best friend, who opens her heart and welcomes an old friend back home, as if nothing had happened. The couple who own the local store and know everything that is happening in the small town of Fairfield. The town drunk, who learns before it’s too late that family is important. The local school teacher who comes from San Francisco with big ideas that help those students who don’t quite fit in. The student who is a little bit ‘odd’ but learns to fit in as well as stand up to the local bullies. The woman who comes home, in more ways than one. The characters are all a little different, which is so refreshing to see. There is nothing worse than reading a book where everyone has the same speech pattern, and you get no sense of who they are as an individual. That is definitely not the case here.
This being said, it is more of a character-driven storyline, than one based on a prescribed plot. It is the story of a woman going home and what she finds there. Having been conditioned by so many plot-driven contemporary romances, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, as it were. There were a few shoes placed lightly on the floor, but nothing too shocking or that throws the story completely off-kilter, making you wonder if they will ever get together. I actually enjoyed the change quite a bit! It wasn’t cliche, it was a story of people.
The ‘What If’ Guy by Brooke Moss is now one of my favorites, and one that I would heartily recommend. The language was wonderful and the story flowed at a perfect pace. It’s rare to come across a book were the ending didn’t seem rushed. The word that comes to mind (again) is poignant. This reader felt a part of Autumn’s world and her story, feeling her pain and her wonderment. I wanted to sit down and share a plate of Haystacks with Holly and Autumn, have them as my best friends.
Quote: “The desperate, sad look in Henry’s eyes made my heart ache. His brown hair fell across his forehead in rain-soaked waves, and his eyelashes gathered in dampened clumps. Henry’s eyes, the same shade of gray as the weeping clouds above us, searched my face for answers I was too ashamed to give.” (opening of the story)