Twenty-one-year-old Shandi Pierce is leaving her mother Mimmy's home and moving to her dad's spare condo in Atlanta in order to attend college and to allow her son to go to a preschool worthy of his intellect. To appease Mimmy for taking away her near-genius yet purely endearing three-year-old grandson, Natty, Shandi agrees to hang a Praying Hands Jesus in the condo, although she knows this is just ammunition in the ever-evolving and long-standing divorce wars against Shandi's staunchly Jewish dad.
On her moving day, Shandi vows not to dwell on the exes' struggles that have so impacted her life, starting when she was four and her parents divorced. Happily, her best friend Walcott has arrived to help her pack and move. Walcott, a poet armed with a witty sense of humor, always makes her feel better --- from their playground days through the one dark night that she refuses to think about or acknowledge, and now through her mother's resentment that she is leaving her home to stay in the enemy territory owned by her father and his icy-cold wife, Bethany.
"I've read a string of truly excellent books lately, but I believe SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY just might top them all. I literally could not wait to get to this book each day, with its blend of humor, tragedy, mystery, secrets, and love of all kinds."
Mimmy has prepared an enormous meal of chicken-fried steak and all the trimmings, heavily sauced with guilt. Unfortunately, Natty suffers car sickness afterwards, so Shandi and Walcott decide to stop at a Circle K in the middle of nowhere to clean him up. A car pulls up, and a very large, extremely attractive guy in well-worn jeans (Shandi's take: "…weathered blue jeans that were doing all kinds of good things for him. For me, too.") walks into the Circle K. Shandi and Natty head in, too, to buy sodas.
Inside the store, Shandi sees the hot guy transfixed by a box of laundry detergent. She immediately deduces that this man is newly single and trying to learn how to perform household chores, such as washing clothes. She also just happens to check out his ring finger, noting the pale flesh where a wedding ring was recently removed. This guy is her type, for sure, and she is ripe for having a relationship, including some sex that actually works for her, following her loss of virginity a year after she had her baby (yes, you're reading that right: Natty was a virgin birth).
Suddenly, a pale, short man in a baseball cap walks in brandishing an old rusty silver revolver and tells everyone in the store to hit the ground. Shandi can't move or even breathe because Natty is standing alone behind the man in the laundry detergent aisle. And that's when it happens, the event that will change everything in Shandi's life: the man she'd been admiring places himself between the gun and Natty. She falls deeply in love with the stranger, whose name happens to be William Ashe. But, as she finds out later, William has his own issues, including Asperger's syndrome and the tragic loss of his family exactly one year before the Circle K robbery. Can Shandi's hopefulness overcome their problems?
I've read a string of truly excellent books lately, but I believe SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY just might top them all. I literally could not wait to get to this book each day, with its blend of humor, tragedy, mystery, secrets, and love of all kinds. (Dear Members of the League of Romance Novel Haters: Don't dismiss this book because you think it's going to be another rote "romance book"; nothing could be farther from the truth.) Every character is so true to life, you might wonder if you know them in real life, and their destinies intertwine in beguiling ways as they search for the ultimate truths in their lives.
While the main tale belongs to Shandi (and we root for her, like crazy), we are also privy to William's story, which adds many more levels to an already well-layered story. This charming page-turner serves up a twist I never remotely suspected, followed by an utterly satisfying conclusion.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on November 22, 2013