Published by Reckless Siren Publishing
Published on January 27, 2015
Genres: Adult Contemporary, Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon--Buy on B&N
Add to Goodreads
The Five Stages of Falling in Love is a Contemporary Romance.
Elizabeth Carlson is living in the pits of hell- also known as grief.
Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady's prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her?
Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days.
When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn't just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she's capable of ever giving again.
As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there's more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there's more to life than death.
Five Stages of Falling in Love is an incredible story about a woman’s tragic loss and learning to live and love again. The story is told so realistically, breaking me down then building me up over and over again. I loved every heart wrenching moment of it!
Beginning with the prologue, I just knew this book was going to hurt. We are introduced to Liz and her dying husband, Grady in one of their last moments together sharing words of love, promises, and a final dance. In the span of just a few pages I could feel the depth of their commitment to each other and fell a little bit in love with Grady.
“You are the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me, Lizzy.”
The story picks up six months after Grady’s death and follows Liz through the five stages of grief after losing the love of her life. Liz is left to take care of her four children alone. Every day is a struggle to get out of bed and just face the day. Not only is Liz dealing with her own grief, but she’s doing her best to be there for her children, some of which are too young to even understand that their dad isn’t coming back. I honestly couldn’t imagine being in Liz’s shoes. Her pain is so palpable and also her sense of guilt that she isn’t doing enough for her babies, that she’s failing them. Some of the moments between her and her kids were truly heartbreaking and had me crying instantly.
“It’s okay to be sad, Mommy,” Lucy promised on a know-it-all whisper. “But don’t be sad all day. He only went on vacation. He wouldn’t leave us forever. He loves us too much.”
Making things harder is the rebellious streak one of her kids is on. This leads Liz to meeting her new neighbor in a rather unconventional way, while swimming half clothed in his pool chasing after her six-year-old first thing in the morning. LOL!
“You look hungry,” a deep masculine voice announced from above me.
I whipped my head around to find an incredibly tall man standing by my discarded pajama pants holding two beach towels and a box of Pop-Tarts in one arm, while he munched casually on said Pop-Tarts with the other.
“I look hungry?” I screeched in hysterical anger.
His eyes flickered down at me for just a second, “No, you look mad.” He pointed at Abby, who had come to a stop next to me, treading water again with her short child-sized limbs waving wildly in the water.
“She looks hungry.” With a mouth full of food he grinned at me, and looked back at Abby. “Want a Pop-Tart? They’re brown sugar.”
I loved everything about how Liz and Ben meet. It’s so perfect for the story, showing such a desperate, infuriating moment in Liz’s life and showcases Ben’s easygoing, flirty personality. From the moment they meet Liz is annoyed by him and thinks he’s a smug, nosy bachelor that she wants nothing to do with, but of course that doesn’t last long.
Ben had been my savior.
Ben had been breath back in my lungs. Beats back in my heart. Blood back in my veins.
Ben had been found instead of lost. Home instead of wandering. Life instead of death.
As time passes, Ben proves over and over again what a great guy he is and that he is someone she and the kids can count on as a neighbor and as a friend. He becomes an important and permanent fixture in all of their lives. It’s painfully obvious to everyone but Liz that Ben has feelings for her and I loved watching the tension build between them even though Liz doesn’t quite understand what’s happening.
“What did I miss?”
“They met Ben,” I sniffed.
“Oh, so you saw how in love with her he is and how hard she’s trying to deny her feelings for him.”
“Emma! None of that is true!”
“Emma!” my mom gasped.
“What? Did you meet him? He’s so obvious!”
“He isn’t in love with me. Stop.”
Emma rolled her big eyes. “He’s one of my closest friends, Liz. I think I would know.”
“No, he’s one of my closest friends, I think I would know.”
Emma snorted. “Don’t tell him that. I doubt he’d appreciate the fact that he’s been friend-zoned.”
Liz is so blinded by her grief and denial that the thought of loving someone other than Grady is unfathomable to her. She spends a lot of time struggling internally with the guilty feelings she has and I could really understand that. Ben is just incredible the whole time. He is the most patient man in the world but still pushes Liz out of her comfort zone a bit and is a shameless flirt. He’s so giving and selfless and even though he should be running in the other direction, he is supportive. He never shies away from Liz when she breaks down in front of him or talks about how much she loves Grady. He’s understanding and just simply perfect (without being too perfect).
“I’m going to be gentle with you, Liz. We’re going to treat this delicately. I’m going to let this happen slowly, let us fall slowly. But I am not asking too much of you.”
“This will never work!” I snapped at him. “We’re doomed from the start. I’m in love with another man, Ben! A man you will never be able to compete with because he’s dead!”
Ben’s hands reached up to cup my face. His thumbs rubbed over my cheeks, wiping away tears I hadn’t realized I’d started to shed. “I don’t want to compete with Grady,” he murmured. “And I don’t ever expect you to stop loving him. But whether you want to admit it or not, we’ve started something great. You don’t have to prove to me that you have room for two men in your heart. You’ve already made room. I think it’s time you realized that so we can move forward.”
This book paints a painfully realistic picture of a woman struggling to live again after such a heartbreaking death. I would caution people going into this thinking it’s mainly a love story, because while there is one there, it’s really more Liz’s story and her journey through a horrible time in her life. It deals with a lot of heavy emotions and is depressing and completely heartbreaking at times. But then there are these moments of happiness with her kids and friendship and sexual tension with Ben that bring so much light and life into the story.
This is my story. I’d already met my soul mate, fallen in love with him and lived our happily ever after. This story is not about me falling in love. This story is about me learning to live again after love left my life.
I ended up reading this book in a day and had such a hard time putting it down for even a minute. I was incredibly invested in the characters and wanted so badly for them all to be happy. The writing is absolutely beautiful and so emotive. I had close to 140 highlighted quotes and passages, so many profound moments that I know I’ll want to refer back to at some point. I am kind of in awe of how real everything felt. Obviously I haven’t lost my husband or had to raise children on my own so I can’t say I know how that feels, but I can’t imagine it being written more genuinely and respectfully. The way everything progresses is just perfect. This book has definitely made me a forever fan of Rachel Higginson and I can’t wait for more of her adult works! 5 stars.
“We don’t have to limit how many people we love. Our hearts make room for as many people as we want to let in.”