Without You Here by Carter AshbyWithout You Here by Carter Ashby
Published August 2014
Genres: Forbidden Romance, New Adult
Format: ARC

Note: I was granted an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my rating or the content of my review.

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After fighting with her boyfriend, Ettie’s only goal is to drown her sorrows in some Jack Daniels. But when she walks into a country tavern, her attention is immediately redirected to the sexy, older man at the bar. He looks lonely, and sad, and absolutely mouth-watering. Ettie can’t wait to put a smile on his face.

For the first time in two years, Wyatt finds himself jolted out of his grief—and by a spunky, vivacious young woman who somehow sees right into his soul. What follows is a passionate weekend full of more life, laughter, and pure joy than he experienced in twenty years of marriage.

Wyatt thought one weekend was all he had to give, yet in the days that follow, he can’t help dreaming up a future with Ettie. And then a chance meeting shatters his hopes, leaving him more lost than ever. Now Ettie must decide whether to walk away, or to fight for the love she knows they both deserve.

Without You Here is the sexy, heartwarming story of overcoming grief, embracing love, and learning to live in the moment.

Ettie broke up with her boyfriend Blake for the millionth time again. But this time the impetuous girl is looking for trouble and walks into the first country dive bar that crossed her way and picks up an older guy, Wyatt, who was drowning his sorrows is alcohol.

What turned out to be a weekend fling for Ettie and Wyatt soon turns into a full grown nightmare when both find out that they have Blake in common – and that their attraction for each other didn’t cease to grow. Will Wyatt give in to his feelings for Ettie without feeling guilty of betraying his dead wife and can they even go on with a relationship given the secret they share?

Let me start by saying that I found this story interesting mainly because of its two main plots (forbidden love and the urge to fight against it due to unnecessary grief and guilt), and I even found the writing okay, but I really couldn’t relate to the characters and found the story quite unbelievable.

What I felt I missed the most was more background on Ettie, and on Blake. We got the full story of Wyatt (his marriage, his wife, his ordeal) but we have no info whatsoever on Ettie and Blake. All we know is that Ettie’s mother was a nut-case, that Ettie lived almost as a recluse and that this explains her quirky crazy behaviour. And she’s also a tough girl because despite her attention deficit syndrome and dyslexia, she managed to get extremely good college grades.

But if she were, then pray why would she be as dumb as to tolerate being with a grade-A asshole of a boyfriend who can’t help but belittle her all of the time? I really hated Blake with all my heart because he was a selfish asshole and I just didn’t understand why the two of them stayed together.

I kind of condemned that fact that Ettie went to pick up the first guy she met in a bar and had spontaneous and unprotected sex with him, but it was for the story’s sake so I closed an eye on that. But then I didn’t understand how Wyatt suddenly agrees to come out his shell 2 years after the death of his wife just to screw with Ettie – especially since he was still completely guilt-stricken whenever he forgot to make the bed because that “what his wife told him to before she died” and he hated to break his promise to her.

I just felt that the timing of the story was off. Things moved too quickly, and some characters were just too understanding and/or forgiving for their own good. It just lost any sense of reality. There are also a few script errors, especially when you think about the very beginning of the book. Where had Ettie stayed before she ran off to the bar where she found Wyatt, and how did she even get there when it is made clear throughout the book that she has no car?

I don’t want to be a killjoy or anything – and I am quite good at closing an eye on cheesy romance because I can fathom the existence and effect of instalove & instalust – but this was just out of proportion for me, especially when the “happy ending” comes too soon and too easily.
And on a completely different note, I don’t find the cover representative of the story at all and the title – well not sure it really captures the story as a whole…

But then again the writing was good. It was a mixture of 1st person POV and alternated 3rd person POV giving a voice to both Blake and Wyatt and it was quite well-written, but really the only thing I find doubtful is the whole plot and its timeline. The book isn’t bad at all since obviously I’ve finished it, but it’s not necessarily something I would wholeheartedly recommend.