The Man Before You by Shalana Battles
ABOUT THE BOOK
Time may not actually heal all wounds, but love just might.
Eloise’s husband was dead and she wished she were too. She quit going to work, refused to answer her phone or her front door, and shut out the people who cared about her. She felt imprisoned by her tainted memories, but couldn’t escape her own home or recliner, because she had to focus on breathing.
Six days after she buried her husband, Jack pounded on Eloise’s door. Jack, a man she hadn’t seen or spoken to in over a decade. Jack, the only man including her husband, who Eloise felt truly knew her.
Jack’s life hadn’t been without its fair share of loss. Breaking contact after Eloise’s marriage had seemed the best thing for them, but regret tortured Jack when Eloise swung open her door and he saw the shell of the woman he once loved.
Eloise pushed Jack away ten years ago and never expected him to come back into her life. She hated herself for wanting Jack to stay, but she couldn’t help but remember the love they once shared and the life that they could’ve had—or the life they could have now.
The longer Jack stayed, the more he realized Eloise blamed herself for not being there when her husband died. Jack wanted a second chance, but Eloise didn’t think she deserved one. Eloise wanted to find herself, but wasn’t sure she could while dealing with grief, Jack’s deployments, PTSD, and a universe that seemed determined to keep them apart.
This book is about grief, love, guilt, and second chances. My heart ached for both Eloise and Jack as they slowly find their way back to being best friends, to lovers, and finally soulmates.
Eloise is lost after her husband, Reagan’s sudden death until Jack shows up on her doorstep unexpected and unwanted. Jack, the man she has loved since college. Her best friend with benefits who could never say no to her. The man she ghosted when she married Reagan. Jack wasn’t part of her life plan back then. She couldn’t control her feelings for him in college, so she moved on. And now at her worst, Jack’s back to take care of her again, but her guilt over betraying Reagan’s memory keeps Jack at arm’s distance. Until she can’t ignore her attraction and love for him anymore.
Jack would do anything for the woman he has loved since the first time he saw her in college. Even hide his true feelings for her. He only planned to visit her for a few days in Houston during his leave from the military as a combat medic, but he stayed the entire time despite his better judgment. I guess the heart wants what the heart wants. Eloise’s loss is something he understands after losing his brother and then his mother, as well as his brothers in the military. He doesn’t want to burden her with his pain. So he saves her from herself and encourages her to “stay in the light” while he keeps thinking he doesn’t deserve her. Until she finally decides to let him in. But for how long? This time if she leaves, it will destroy him.
The whole Jack-waiting-for-Eloise thing is frustrating at best. Jack is a keeper and a man any woman would want and Eloise just needs to “stop getting in her own way”. I understand she needs to grieve, but it angered me to see how she kept pushing and pulling on Jack when he works so hard to prove how much he adores her. Jack has a big heart and a lot of patience to wait for a woman that clearly doesn’t have her shit together. But a number of tragic events happen that will ultimately either make or break their relationship culminating in a heartbreaking and fulfilling ending. After all, “sometimes we have to change to survive”.
If you enjoy beautiful soul-searching love stories with realistic characters covering serious subject matter such as grief, PTSD, and suicide give this book a try.
Thank you to Ms. Battles for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.
- $25 Amazon gift card
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Eloise switched on the television. She didn’t remember the last time she ate or showered and had no desire to start functioning again. She pulled the blanket up around her neck as the doorbell rang. Rossi jumped up and started barking. Eloise placed her hand on top of Rossi’s head. Whoever it was could leave their “I’m sorry” and their stupid-ass lasagna tray on the porch and leave. Eloise turned up the volume and ignored the knocking that followed the doorbell. Rossi stayed standing, but quiet.
“Eloise! Open the door, please. I know you’re home.” The voice was followed by more pounding and Eloise clicked the remote volume up three more notches.
Maybe one of the neighbors will call the police and complain, she thought.
“Eloise, it’s Jack.” The noise stopped and she felt as though the wind had been permanently knocked out of her. She froze, waiting to see if the silence would stay. It didn’t.
“Eloise, open the damn door.” The male voice roared through the entryway and Eloise’s breath hitched. It couldn’t be him. She hadn’t heard that voice in ten years and yet the sound of it made her feel like she’d never gone without it.
Eloise stood and wrapped the blanket around herself tighter, hoping it would magically become a shield. She debated not opening the door, but if Jack was anything like he used to be, he wouldn’t go away. Eloise would probably leave a month from now and find he’d been living on her porch. Rossi rose with Eloise and matched her stride. Eloise took a quick glance in the mirror hanging in her entryway, knowing full well she could pass for a person who’d been sleeping behind a dumpster, and then swung the door open.
Jack. A man Eloise hadn’t seen or spoken to in ten years. He straightened from his leaning position over her window. He stood too tall, too straight. His feet spread apart too evenly. Rossi moved to place her body between Eloise and Jack, shifting her gaze from Eloise to Jack.
“Eloise.” One word, then Jack snapped his mouth shut. Eloise closed her eyes and waited for him to look her over. She knew he would. “I wish there was something to say, but I know nothing will make this any easier.” Jack’s voice was this cross between being out of breath and a whisper, and Eloise wondered where the screaming madman he was a second ago went.
“Why are you even here?” Eloise noted Jack locking his fingers in front of his waist. He looked different and exactly the same.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shalana Battles is a YA/Adult writer who tells stories about love…sometimes with witches and ghosts. Her debut novel, SOUL JUMPER is coming out October, 6, 2020. Be the first to hear about upcoming projects and book updates by signing up for her newsletter below!