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Review: Then & Now by Brooke Moss

Then & Now (This & That #3) by Brooke Moss
Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Ebook (296 pages, Self-Published)
(This book is part 3 of a series. Though it is a stand alone novel, it is easier to follow if read in order. Grab your copies of Baby & Bump and/or Apples & Oranges to read first, if you haven't already!)
Life can change in an instant. No one knows that better than Candace Chang.
After being widowed with three young children to care for, it was all she could do to keep her household functioning, and herself in one piece. In the two years since her husband’s death, never once has she considered getting remarried. Candace is fine with her books, her tea, and her memories, despite her friends’ and family’s growing concern.
When handsome, twenty-six year old cop, Mason Ledger, buys the house next door, Candace is quickly reminded of just how alone she is. Her kids are gone with grandma for the summer, and other than her attempts at restarting the career she abandoned to become a wife and mother, she's got nothing but spare time. What starts off as friendly neighbors simply sharing a fence line, takes no time to evolve into an attraction neither expected. Before she knows it, Candace is feeling more than just a need for distraction. The problem is, Mason sees a future between the two of them, and Candace is trying desperately to keep things casual.
Can Candace keep her meddling family at bay while she figures out this unexpected romantic conundrum? Will this almost-cougar and her young neighbor find some sort of middle ground? Or will Candace discover that love is every bit as sweet the second time around?
Author Site: website

Relatable, Moving, and Simply Wonderful (5 stars)

Since the blurb does such a great job of setting this story up I don't feel like I need to rehash it at all. If you've read the previous entries in the series you probably balled your eyes out when Candace was widowed. I'm pretty sure I emailed the author at 2am to tell her she owed me a box of tissues after that one and as much as I hate when bad things happen to characters I love, sometimes something amazing comes out of it. That is the case here.

From the opening chapter to the final page I was hard pressed to put THEN & NOW down. It's a realistic dilemma Candace faces in the wake of being widowed but also, in the concerns over an age difference in a new relationship. If you're a married thirty-something like me you'll likely see a little bit of yourself in Candace and the what-if factor will have you rabidly tearing through the story. It could certainly stand alone though I'd very much recommend not reading this series out of order. I think having some perspective on her husband that passed away before this story starts made the stakes that much higher for me.

Being from Eastern Washington and having spent part of my childhood living in the area the story takes place I felt swept back home with every turn of the page. The hot summers, the crazy drivers, the endless desire to sneak into your neighbor's pool. Moss always manages to transport me in this way but I think this might have been the strongest connection I've had with an overall story yet. I even thought to myself at one point 'huh, I haven't cried yet... what's up with that?' and within a few chapters I had big ol' alligator tears rolling down my cheeks.

If you love the sort of romance that can move you, that feels so real you could be friends with the characters, you simply MUST read this series. THEN & NOW is very high on my list of favorite romances and if you take one recommendation from me, ever, I hope it will be to give Moss a try.

Notes: Review copy received via author.

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