Title: What If...
Author: Kelly Rae
My Rating: A-
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Main Characters: Katie and Chris
Release Date: July 2012
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
One fateful night during high school Katie Wright loses everything: her father, the first man she ever loved, dies in a car accident and Chris Staller, the first boy she’s ever loved, breaks her heart. Fast-forward ten years and Katie is a beautiful, successful woman who has spent the past decade doing her best to make her life all about work, keeping everyone at arms length—friends and lovers alike. But she’s lonely and beginning to awaken to the fact that pretending to be happy and content doesn’t mean she actually is. Working through her emotional challenges while maintaining a stellar career reputation has been tricky, but she’s always determined to come out on top.
Paying a visit to her old high school, Katie runs into Chris, now a dedicated PE teacher who pines for the one he let get away: her. An upstanding member of the community and a much better man than he was a boy, Chris is determined to win Katie back at all cost. But Katie is less than receptive to the idea, and when he lays down a challenge, she is determined to come out on top again.
Learning to follow the heart is a lesson everyone must learn and Kelly Rae’s sweet love story is a powerful reminder of the healing power of forgiveness in that journey. Delivered with unadorned prose, extraordinary grace, and warmth, What If…will fill your life with hope and the positive force of life.
From the moment I read the final line in the prologue and started crying, I knew that I was going to love this book! Her senior year in high school, Katie's father died in a car accident on his way to rescue her after she caught her boyfriend Chris in a compromising position. The heartache of their loss was too much for both Katie and her mother so they left town. In the ten years since, Katie has not been able to forgive herself or her boyfriend, whom she never saw again, for his death. The fact was he wouldn't have been on the road that night if Chris hadn't broken her heart...and her father wouldn't have died.
It's ten years later and now Katie is a successful lawyer and has moved back to that small town to be the Asst. DA. She's moved past those awful events and put Chris firmly in her past, even though she does think about him occasionally. What she doesn't expect is for him to still be living in this small town. He too has come back and is now the high school basketball coach.
They both thought they'd moved past their feelings, but they were both wrong. Chris immediately knows that she's the one that got away and he wants her back. Over the years, he's forgotten what caused the issues that night to begin with. But for Katie, her feelings for Chris are so much more complex. She sees him and she's immediately overcome with grief, anger, and deep gut-wrenching longing. She never dealt with what happened that night...between them or what happened to her dad because of it. It makes for an incredible, emotional read, although I will admit that I hit a point where I simply wanted her to get past it, but that's because I was falling in love with Chris' character too.
The book is written almost entirely from Katie's POV, but the few glimpses you get inside Chris' head are so sweet and honest. He's a guy and he's human. He screws up especially when it comes to women, but his feelings for Katie are so true. You can't help but fall in love with him. On the other hand there's Katie. She trusted him with her whole heart once, but he abused that love. Yes, he was a teenager, but there are definite signs that he could be guilty of the same thing again. You can't blame her for being leery even when her heart is bursting out of her chest in love with him.
Like I said, this was just a great read. There was enough angst to really appeal to my reading loves. I will definitely be watching for more from Kelly Rae.
Kelly Rae is a native of California, currently residing in a mountain of snow in Central Oregon, covertly planning her escape to get back to her Golden State roots. Kelly has a nine year-old son named Triton, who is her inspiration in all things, and a passion for writing, reading, and traveling.
@kellyraebooks twitter handle