Book Review: Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

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Ever Her 1

Publish Date: May 7, 2019

“It doesn’t matter how you get there. It just matters that you’re there.” — Only Ever Her

Annie Taft’s wedding is four days away, and it will be one of the grandest anyone can remember in her small South Carolina town. Preparations are in order. Friends and family are gathering in anticipation. Everything is going according to plan. Except that Annie herself has vanished. Did she have second thoughts?

Or has something much worse happened to the bride-to-be?

As the days pass, the list of suspects in her disappearance grows. Could it be the recently released man a young Annie misidentified as her mother’s killer? Could it be someone even closer to her?

While her loved ones frantically try to track her down, they’re forced to grapple with their own secrets—secrets with the power to reframe entire relationships, leaving each to wonder how well they really knew Annie and how well they know themselves.

Bride-to-be Annie Taft goes missing 4 days before her wedding, right after her mother’s alleged murderer is released from prison. The entire town is frantic with worry because Annie is a beloved hometown girl with a very tragic past.

The story is told by multiple characters that surround Annie’s life and her hometown, through flashbacks and present day interactions. Each of these characters are flawed, complicated, selfish, and harbor many secrets. Most of them are involved in clandestine relationships. Many are unlikeable.

Romantic love is very complicated and dysfunctional in this book. There no healthy romantic relationships in the entire story. Many of the characters have love for another person that is not returned or reciprocated, and the title of the book Only Ever Her is very fitting.

The main plot has the makings of a taut thriller, but the focus of the book is character development so the pace is a slow burn. The book delves into each characters’ past to give insight into what makes them into the person that they are today.

This is my first read of Marybeth Mayhew Whalen’s work and I enjoyed it. Here are my favorite quotes from the book:

“It is, after all, what you do when you fall in love: you hide who you really are for as long as possible, fearing that if you show your true self, the person you love won’t love you anymore.”

“Why does it take loss to make you realize what you had? This is one of the great injustices in life.”

“Town lore says that the place is haunted. But it isn’t haunted. Clary thinks that people, rather than places, are more likely to be haunted.”

I love suspenseful books with strong character development and a satisfying closure. This is “my jam“, as my kids would say.  But, I would have liked this story to have more closure for many of the characters and the book felt a little unfinished for me. In the end, some of the plotline is unresolved and I would have liked the story to be extended and more closure to occur. Also, the character perspectives changed very often and sometimes it was challenging for me to keep them straight because they were so similar.

This book is about revenge, release, secrets, clandestine love, infidelity, family, forgiveness, and acceptance. The last 10% of the book make the entire story worthwhile, because we find out what happens to Annie and some of the loose ends are tied together.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars 3 Stars

Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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