REVIEW: Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K.
It was on a Friday afternoon at the tail end of a Georgia summer so ungodly hot the air felt like it had all been boiled red. We were both staring down the barrel of an ancient, creaky .32 that could kill us just as dead as a really nice gun could.
I thought then that I had landed in my own worst dream, not a love story… And yet, seventeen seconds later, before I so much as knew his name, I’d fallen dizzy-down in love with him.
I’ve never had an angel on my right shoulder; I was born with a pointy-tailed devil who crept back and forth across my neck to get his whispers into both my ears. I didn’t get a fairy godmother or even a discount talking cricket-bug to be my conscience. But someone should have told me. That afternoon in the Circle K, I deserved to know, right off, that I had landed bang in the middle of a love story. Especially since it wasn’t— it isn’t— it could never be, my own.
Spoiler (Trigger Warning): Show
Dear Ms. Jackson,
I’ve read your blog a bit and always enjoyed your humor but had never tried one of your books. When Jane sent me our paper arc of “Someone Else’s Love Story” it was fate. Well here I finally am, writing up a review and I can say it’s what I expected and not at all what I expected – in a good way.
Set in Georgia, I love that the characters aren’t stereotypical “Southerners.” They just are Southerners. There are no double first names, no one is mentioned as driving a pick-up truck, wearing a cowboy hat or boots. It starts out in a rural town but quickly moves to Atlanta. There’s no attempt at writing “Southern” dialog and no one sounds like a hillbilly. For all this, I thank you.
Shandi and William are layered, complex people without being written as prostrate with angst though honestly they are entitled to be. Both have issues from their past which must be examined, worked through and dealt with before they can move on. And these issues aren’t shallow, or turned cutesy, or easily taken care of. There are major and heartbreaking events each has endured and which must be gone through in order to get to the other side and move into their futures.
William views the world differently due to his high functioning autism. His scientific gene specialty research puts Shandi on the road to resolving her past issue. Meanwhile, Shandi helps wake William up and bring him back into daily living and away from the numb shell he’d lived in for the past year.
As the story progressed, thinks weren’t quite adding up as I’m used to seeing happen in a romance. I began to wonder – was the book instead women’s fiction? Or – worse still – just fiction with no guarantee of a happy ending? Since the book had “love story” in the title I was holding out for someone getting a HEA. Yet I was still confused as there were elements of romance and fiction but the book wasn’t fitting completely into either.
There are twists at the end I wasn’t expecting. They are not exactly hidden or out-of-the-blue but one did surprise me very much. It also reminded me that there were only 30 pages left to go to sort every thing out. At this point, I truly had no idea where you were going to go with both Shandi and William. When I discovered, all I could think was “thank God I didn’t peek at the end the way I sometimes do” because the impact of half the book would have been lost on me.
For those who wish to know, yes people find their HEA at the end of the book. But most of the book will not seem like what romance readers are used to. The bulk of the story is William and Shandi coming to terms with past events in their lives, often with each other’s help, with a romantic thread woven into this. It’s not exactly what I was expecting but it’s satisfying all the same. B