Secondhand Heart by Kristen Strassel

Daisy Mangold is only twenty-one, and already a widow. Her husband, who was also her best friend from childhood, died due to a road-side bomb explosion while serving in Afghanistan. Now that it has been over a year since her husband’s death, Daisy’s family and friends think it is time for her to start getting her life back on track. Her sister in particular thinks she should move on with Cam Hunter, a hunky town local who won a singing reality TV show, and is back in town to open up a bar and get his country singing career in order after splitting up with his wife. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

secondhand heartHonestly, I had some issues with the first half or so of this book, mainly in regards to Daisy and Cam’s relationship. She is just starting to date again after losing someone ridiculously important to her, and Cam’s divorce isn’t even final yet before he and Daisy start seeing each other. At first it seems like they are both on the rebound, and because they are so emotionally vulnerable they sort of latch onto each other. I don’t know, it just didn’t seem as real as I would have liked. I think another contributing factor to this was that we only hear Daisy’s point of view on the relationship. Even during her conversations with Cam everything is more focused on her thoughts and feelings rather than his. I understand that this is more realistic considering that we never really know what another person is thinking, but for a romance novel it’s sort of nice to feel like both persons are wholly invested in the relationship. He didn’t even really contribute much to the conversations. Because we really only hear what Daisy is thinking, it sort of made it seem like the relationship was one-sided. For about the first half of the book I actually questioned whether or not Cam was really into her, or if he just saw her as a way to pass the time in the evenings.

Daisy and Cam’s relationship moves along at a ridiculously fast pace, to the point where after about a month of dating he asks her to move in with him, and she agrees. Come on Daisy! Do you really know enough about this guy to make such an important life-altering decision after only a month? What side of the bed does he sleep on? Does he prefer orange juice with or without pulp? And perhaps the most relevant question of all: does he like Coke or Pepsi? These are the very foundations of any relationship! I mean, yeah it would also be good to know whether or not he is actually divorced before moving in with him, or if you’ll be responsible for any rent or utility payments considering you don’t have a job, but soda preference is key.

I struggled to understand Daisy’s reasoning behind moving in with Cam so quickly, but at one point I really couldn’t sympathize with her. To be fair, Daisy does give the reader permission at one point to think of her as “nuts”, so I see no problem in simply agreeing with that characterization. It’s the moment when she tells her parents about her new living arrangements, and she gets all pissy because her mom isn’t more on board with the decision like her father is. I tried to envision what it would be like if I sat down with my mom and dad and told them that I was gonna move in with a guy they’d never met before after only dating him for one month. In my opinion, Daisy got off easy. My mom wouldn’t just give me attitude, she’d give me the glare. You know what I’m talking about. The most literal translation would probably be, “Excuuuuuse me?!” I’m pretty sure my dad would also enlist the help of my two older brothers to track down this boyfriend of mine and teach him a lesson. Ah, family. Gotta love ’em.

All things considered, the second half of the book was a billion times better than the first.There is a major plot twist in the latter half which I won’t spoil, but it definitely turned the story onto a new path. The book was no longer just a romance novel, but showed the importance of family and having loved ones in your life to help you through the hardest of times. There were some other elements present throughout the entire book that I really enjoyed. From start to finish, Daisy has to deal with the loss of her husband, and what it means to move on after losing a loved one. I can’t even attempt to imagine how much of an inner-battle that would be. To constantly question whether or not it is ok to feel something for someone new. Does moving on necessarily mean that you have to forget who came before? One of my favorite features of the book was that Daisy always wore her husband’s dog tags. It was interesting to see how such an immaterial object could come to symbolize an entire person, and was a way for Daisy to always keep a piece of her husband close. The dog tags were almost like another character. I think what made his loss so much more poignant was that he wasn’t just her husband, he was also one of her closest friends. Daisy learns that keeping him close is possible, but she still has room in her heart for someone new.

*A copy was provided by the author for an honest review*

Series: I don’t think so

Should You Read It? If you stick with it through the first half I think you’ll enjoy it. The ending is also adorable, and by far my favorite part of the book!

Smut Level: Some parts were pretty PG, but others were downright dirty. It made me realize why people really go to the drive-in. I remember how much fun I used to have as a kid dressing up in my PJs to go see a movie at the drive-in. Now I wonder what was really going on in the back seats of the other vehicles.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here

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