Friday, January 3, 2020

Blog Tour - Husband Material by Emily Belden - Review and Author Q&A!



Well, hello there! I'm excited to once again be a stop on a blog tour - Today I'm sharing Husband Material by Emily Belden with y'all. This is a romance/women's fiction read, but this is also a book with all the feels. 

Today, I had the chance to ask the author some questions, and I'll be sharing my review. And again, good news for y'all is this is a book that's out now!

First up is some insight into this author's writing process and this specific book!

Q: When you begin writing a love story, do you know how you want it to end? Or do you decide as you develop the plot?
A: I generally have an idea of how I want things to wrap up, but what I always struggle with is that final sentence. How do you know you’re REALLY there? I often ready my theoretical last sentence out loud, followed by saying “The End”, and if it feels like it has a certain “ring” to it, then I can shut the laptop. If not, then I know it’s not my stopping point. Wrapping up that final thought with a bow on it is super important. It’s what I want when I read a book, at least.


Q: How was it to write about grief, pain and love for the same character?
A: It was new. That’s really the best word to explain it. HOT MESS has so many autobiographical elements to it (i.e., restaurant industry know-how, dating an addict, etc.) but HUSBAND MATERIAL was all unchartered territory for me. I realized right away that in order to write about the grief of losing a spouse/partner, I had to curate a focus group of real-life women like Charlotte and really learn from them to bring the level of authenticity and nuance needed to successfully write the book.

Q: What type of love stories do you like? Or were there ones you looked to as you began writing Husband Material?
A: I like really unexpected love stories. In today’s literary landscape, there’s certainly a formula that is pretty common. So it’s the books that break or stray from that formula that really do it for me. I like stories where it’s not innately clear who the protagonist is going to end up with. Even with HOT MESS there’s a moment where (I hope) the reader is like “OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING” insofar as Allie’s love story goes. Same with Charlotte in HUSBAND MATERIAL.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: I heard a news story on the TV when I was doing dishes at my (former) home in San Diego. It was about a developer who wanted to buy the land a mausoleum was on so they could tear it down and build luxury condos overlooking the ocean. I thought, how crazy if your loved one’s ashes just got mailed back to you one day and the resting place you thought was final, wasn’t. It wasn’t easy, but turned that general premise into a light-side-of-heavy rom-com.

Q: What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
A: Overall, that second chances at love take all different forms. You never know the circumstances someone has found themselves in, so be kind. For Charlotte, I intentionally wrote the first few chapters as if she was divorced--talking about her “first marriage”. Then you find out “Oh, sh*t, she’s a widow,” and all the sudden your emotional connection with her changes. I also find it interesting writing about death. We don’t talk about it in society, especially not in contemporary women’s fiction. A tragic, unexpected death is the crux of this book. Let’s dig in!

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Now, let me tell you about my own reading experience!

When I read the summary of Husband Material I was immediately intrigued and signed up for the blog tour for the opportunity to delve into this story. 

Charlotte has a secret - She's a widow. Five years ago, she tragically lost her husband. She has since moved on by finding a roommate, job and life where no one knows about her before. It's not that she doesn't think about Decker ever, but she's just trying to get through as she has lingering pain and guilt around this death. Then, all the feels come back when Decker's ashes show up on her doorstep. The mausoleum he was housed in has been impacted by a forest fire, and this means the next of kin must decide what to do now. Being reunited with Decker brings back feelings Charlotte has tried to keep locked away. With this development, Charlotte reconnects with Decker's parents, as well as with Decker's best friend, Brian. 

Having these blasts from the past means Charlotte revisits what life was in the age of Decker. As she does this, a new secret comes out that changes literally everything. This was a romance novel, but it had thriller-esque twists, and I appreciated that. Even more than that, the emotions were so authentically written. While there was some humor throughout, there was also the heart that Charlotte had been through something that had such a profound impact.

What I loved about this book was that it really looks at the themes of grief and loss. These are emotions that are so common, but we don't talk about them enough. And we certainly don't acknowledge that it can take many different forms. This can vary from person to person, but more than that, one person's relationship with the emotion can change as time goes on. This book showcases that through its characters as they're just trying to get through after the unimaginable happens. It also wrestles with the question of what relationships look like through grief. How do these change? Who gets to decide how we feel loss? What do we do when the person who connected us to someone else is gone?

Even though there is a theme of grief and pain, this is also about love. I appreciated how this book showed emotions aren't mutually exclusive. Charlotte wasn't just Decker's death. There was so much more to her. This was Charlotte navigating her relationships, her secrets, and what her ever after was going to be. I'm so glad I seized the intrigue of this one and had this reading experience!

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Summary:

Told in Emily Belden's signature edgy voice, a novel about a young widow's discovery of her late husband's secret and her journey toward hope and second-chance love.

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.

Author Bio:
EMILY BELDEN is a journalist, social media marketer, and storyteller. She is the author of the novel Hot Mess and Eightysixed: A Memoir about Unforgettable Men, Mistakes, and Meals. She lives in Chicago. Visit her website at www.emilybelden.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @emilybelden.


Buy Links:

Social Links:
Twitter: @emilybelden
Instagram: @emilybelden
Facebook: @emilybeldenauthor

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