HAD TO BE YOU is a contemporary new adult romance set in a small Massachusetts beach town in the days leading up to a summer wedding. At its heart, this is a story about first love, but as it also carries over into post-college years, spanning that decade and touching upon more mature themes. It does not shy away from erotic description, but only as it reflects and reinforces the deep connection and passion defining the relationship.
When Rory Finn first left behind the familiarity of her quiet, picturesque hometown to pursue a professional career in the city after college, her intention was to focus on the future—until a jarring bit of unwelcome news forces her to face the past. What if her first love could actually still be the true love of her life? There’s just one little problem with the timing of this revelation. He is about to marry someone else.
As she embarks upon an impulsive, desperate bid to win him back, her mission turns into an unexpected and emotional journey of rediscovery. With both humor and heartbreak, the story itself transitions from past to present, exploring a small history of love from its tentative beginnings to what may just turned out to be its final bittersweet end.
My number one thing on my Christmas list this year (hey it’s never too early to start one!) is my own Matt O’Shea. Also known as the hunk that’s described as the first love of Rory. He’s cute, he’s sweet and the most adorable male character I’ve ever read. Every single one of this thoughts made me fall in love with him.
Matt is engaged at the beginning of the story to a girl, you might have guessed it, who is not Rory. He loves this girl and is fully committed to her, until Rory shows up. And that’s when I really fell in love with Matt.
He doesn’t just up and leaves his fiancé because of a crazy crush. No, he feels responsibility towards her, towards their commitment and is totally ready to make it work.
Rory on the other hand suddenly realised how poorly she treated Matt and wants to tell him that she still likes him. She thinks. Rory is not completely sure about what she’s feeling, which only complicates the situation for everyone.
So Matt and Rory are the main characters, though the focus is more on Rory. I really liked her. She seems like your typical female narrator, but it turns out that there’s a lot more under the surface. She has a lot of relatable issues she has to work through (commitment fears, fears of a future career, family issues,…), but because of her quirky thinking, the book stays funny and light while dealing with serious problems.
I clearly adored this story, but I did have one issue with it : it dragged on a little bit towards the ending. In the beginning, everything is so open and exciting. Will Rory go home? Will Matt get married? What happens to Rory’s bf, Jill, who is pregnant? However, after reading 75% of the book, most issues are already solved. There is some needless back and forth about things, but I already knew how it was going to end. I think this would have been a great point to just stop the book and leave the ending kinda open. Not all ties need to be wrapped up.
What I did love were the flashbacks that show the teenage years of Rory and Matt. They weren’t chronological, which I think might bother some readers, but I actually liked it. You learn more and more about the couple in different ways. One flashback raises questions about how they got together and voila, the next one answers that. It’s different from most flashbacks, but once you’re used to it, it’s totally fine. Also, it says that there are "erotic" scenes, which I'm usually not a fan of, but really there aren't many and they aren't very graphic. So don't let that turn you off of this book.
There really isn’t much to say about the writing. Juliet Chatham did a great job portraying the story. You get sucked in and feel like you’re in Massachusetts, living the characters lives. Was there anything really special about the writing? No, it was pretty basic. But that works perfectly for the kind of escape-literature this is.
And I definitely escaped my world with this book. I loved it. Because of the issues I had towards the ending of the book, I’ll give it 4.5 stars instead of 5. But seriously, pick up this book.