Before I Knew

Author Jamie Beck returns with an engrossing series about family, friendship, and starting over. In this first Cabot novel, a legacy of secrets tests old friends seeking a second chance at life and love.

On the second anniversary of her husband’s suicide, Colby Cabot-Baxter is ready to let go of her grief and the mistakes made during her turbulent marriage. Her fresh start comes in the form of A CertainTea, the restaurant she’s set to open along Lake Sandy, Oregon, with help from her family. But when her executive chef quits just weeks before the grand opening, Colby is pressured to hire old family friend Alec Morgan. His award-winning reputation could generate buzz, but their friendship has withered since her husband’s reckless dare cost Alec’s brother his life.

Distracted by guilty secrets concerning the tragedy that changed his and Colby’s lives, Alec self-destructed and lost his famed restaurant. With his career in tatters, he’s determined to use this opportunity to redeem his reputation and to help the woman he’s loved from afar find happiness again.

But secrets have a way of coming out. When Alec’s do, they might destroy the new life he and Colby have rebuilt together.

Going in you should know this book is HEAVY on the emotional drama. Family and friends are hiding secrets from one another, there’s lots of anger, blame, sadness, suicide, accidental death – it’s an emotional wrenching story that if you have any empathic bones in your body will leave you drained.

That also goes to show the author’s ability to write her characters and storylines in such a way that they feel believable to the point you can feel what they feel because the line between fiction and reality becomes blurred.

Ultimately the story is about Alec and Colby. Alec is tightly wound and has little to no self-confidence in his personal life so his professional life is what receives the explosion of all the emotions he can’t process elsewhere. Colby has beaten herself up so badly for taking on the responsibility of other peoples problems that she turns that anger onto Alec. These two are both an emotional mess plagued by family with even deeper emotional problems. Dr. Phil could have a field day with these people lol.

The only part of Alec’s storyline I had trouble with was the ‘secret’ he was keeping from Colby as I didn’t feel it was strong enough to warrant the emotional turmoil he put himself through and I felt Colby’s reaction to it was overblown as she is the last person who should blame anyone for what happened.

The romance aspect of this story was really good but honestly felt this book is perfect to showcase why people need therapy and to deal with grief properly.

Thank you to Netgalley and Montlake Romance for allowing me to review this!

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*synopsis and image from Netgalley

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