It’s all in the title – When You Least Expect It; a slow burn, friends to lovers romance, where love is found exactly when (and where) it’s least expected.
Many readers would possibly put Haley Cass’s debut novel Those Who Wait before When You Least Expect It – personally i preferred the latter.
In this book we get to meet Caroline, a hot shot, unlucky in love, divorce attorney and Hannah a straight, married mum who just happens to be seeking a divorce from Caroline’s ex-colleague. From this point onwards Cass really works to build a genuine friendship between the two women, whilst slowly introducing Hannah’s daughter, Abbie, into the equation. Over the span of a year, Caroline and Hannah’s relationship blossoms from attorney/client to friends, until those new found friendship lines begin to blur for Caroline, hinting at feelings deeper than those reserved just for ‘friends’.
Interestingly, Cass writes this book purely from the point of view of Caroline and for me this totally works. In telling the story from this point of view, Cass keeps readers in the dark about any and all of Hannah’s thoughts and feelings – unless they are explicitly verbalised.
This makes it near on impossible for a reader not to become hugely entangled in Caroline’s warring emotions, and as invested in the progression of Caroline and Hannah’s relationship from friends to lovers, as Caroline herself is. The use of this point of view ensures that readers are essentially as flummoxed as Caroline when it comes to where she stands in her relationship with Hannah!
One aspect of this story that i thoroughly appreciated is that Hannah has boundaries, and though it could be all too easy to allow those to crumble whilst navigating being a newly divorced single parent, she doesn’t. She’s assertive in wanting to retain her independence, whilst being realistic in knowing when to accept help. Meanwhile Caroline for her part, learns to accept that there are somethings Hannah needs to work out on her own and does her best to accept those boundaries, whilst also juggling her own attraction and desire to spend time with, and care for both Hannah and Abbie. This allows both Caroline and Hannah’s friendship and ultimately their romantic relationship to progress in a way that feels completely natural, bucking the usual and all too real to life trend, of jumping from one relationship to another and loosing yourself in the process.
It’s also worth noting that When You Least Expect It is pitched as a holiday romance and whilst there is some Christmas and Holiday themed aspects of the book, i read this outside of any holiday season and still thoroughly enjoyed it!
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