Release Date: August 5th, 2021
Charly Johnson created a bucket list when cancer left her mother with less than a year to live. They didn’t make it all the way through the list before she died, but she made Charly promise to finish it and live her life to the fullest.
Spending the summer in a coastal mountain city in Maine is next on her list. The scenic town is perfect for finding adventure, and the quirky inn owner makes her feel right at home in the guest house.
Except for the fact that her new living quarters belong to the owner’s grump of a grandson.
Bryce Holden was an NFL player before sustaining a career-ending spinal injury. The people he thought would stand by his side left him when he was no longer a football star. Now, he prefers to live his life as a recluse, keeping outsiders at arm’s length where his heart is safe.
The last thing Bryce needs is to fall for a beautiful woman who will leave him like everyone else. But when he sees Charly’s incomplete bucket list, and the bruised heart she wears on her sleeve, he resolves to help her on her journey.
Even if it means losing her at the end of it.
CW/TW: mentions of a death of a parent, PTSD
It takes a certain kind of author to write funny and angsty stories in one book. And that author is Kristen Granata. I don’t know how she does it, and it doesn’t matter how she does, because she does it beautifully. And that is exactly what she did with Someone You Love, her new standalone. The book follows two broken souls who find each other right when they need it the most, fall in love and take a chance on the other. It’s a book about loving yourself, accepting that you deserve better than what you’ve convinced yourself about. It’s a story about healing above everything else and through Charly and Bryce, Kristen crafted an incredible story about letting yourself experience the good things in life.
“She’s a beautiful ray of sunshine, and I’m the shadow lucky enough to bask in her light.”
After losing her mother, Charly Johnson decides to take the bucket list they started together and finish it on her own. It’s hard for Charly to do all the things she had planned with her mother, but she knows that staying in and mourning forever is not what her mother would want. And on that list is staying at a B&B in a small town in Maine. Charly expects it to be a quiet and peaceful escape from the city, a chance to get away from all the things that make her sad and remind her of her mother. The last thing she expects is to run into Bryce Holden. The former NFL player is still recovering from a life-altering and career-changing injury, but he’s chosen to hide away from the world and live with his grandmother at her B&B. He keeps everyone at a safe distance and he sticks to his lane, doing his own thing without expecting anything from anyone else. Till Charly upends his entire life and suddenly being alone doesn’t seem so much fun anymore.
Charly and Bryce have such an incredible relationship. It starts out growly and frustrating, but I love how Charly’s ability to ramble and word vomit eases that tension a little. No doubt Bryce is a grump and it’s because he’s always been wary of people and he’s held everyone at a distance for as long as he possibly can, but Bryce can’t deny how different Charly makes him feel. As you’d imagine when you put a hulking NFL player in front of a gorgeous woman, the sexual attraction is there, but they’re both playing it safe. Bryce has been with women who only want him for his celebrity status and he doesn’t instantly trust Charly to want him for anything else. Charly isn’t looking for romance, she’s just looking for an escape, but her attraction to Bryce is obviously hard to ignore.
I’m a sucker for the grump/sunshine trope and that fits Bryce and Charly so perfectly, but even better is when the grump is also a cinnamon roll and Bryce is the exact definition of that. He might be wary of what Charly wants at first, but he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make her smile. They share their stories and their tragedies and it doesn’t just end there – Bryce goes out of his way to make every single day the best one Charly has ever had. I loved how deeply he cared for her even when he was holding himself back. Seriously, though, brace yourself for just how wholesome, kind and giving Bryce is. Because just when you think you’ve figured him out, he’ll throw you for another loop that’ll make you love him even more!
My favourite thing about this story was watching Bryce grow. Thanks to the dual POV, we get to deep dive into his head and his past and we see just how much all of this has affected him. And while he’s wallowed since his injury and everyone has let him do that, when he meets Charly, things take a turn. Yes, love makes you do crazy things, but love also makes you want to be better. Bryce takes Charly’s love and affection for him and turns it into the most powerful thing a person can go through – growth. He’s still a wounded grumpy lumberjack hero, but Bryce is also accepting of his shortcomings and letting people care for him instead of doing it all on his own.
Even without the romance, I think I would have been hooked to this story because these characters were so beautiful. Charly is a lot like me in that she likes having control over her situations and she doesn’t do well with spontaneous things and Bryce is hiding away to avoid being hurt by someone else all over again. They are the realest characters I’ve read in a long time and connecting with them was so easy. But of course, the romance was definitely the big draw. The way they fall in love and how they find themselves embracing their feelings was so natural. Their banter, their communication, their slow bonding – never once did you feel like you were rushing to get to the end, it all just flowed so wonderfully.
“Because you’re just as beautiful inside as you are on the outside. Because I can’t get you out of my head. Because you’re so incredibly sexy. Because you make me feel alive again.”
And their sexual relationship is on a whole other level, with how deeply invested Bryce is in asking Charly what she wants and giving her everything that she craves. I love the patience, the desperate need and the desire both of them feel without holding back. They might not have been looking for each other, but that’s when love is the best, right?
Someone You Love will make you smile, laugh, cry and most likely sob by the end. But that’s the magic of Kristen Granata’s writing. She has a way of making you feel all your feelings. Her stories are always rooted in reality and feature such wonderful characters who struggle to overcome their pasts, but find a way to do it so they can experience the good in the world, to experience the kind of love that they deserve.
Thanks to Kristen Granata for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.