On the surface, Eva Black's life seems practically perfect. The small-town kindergarten teacher is set to wed ambitious lawyer Sean Langley, and their plans for a dream wedding are well underway. Eva accepts that she will soon live life in the spotlight as a member of the prestigious Langley family, but can she overlook her fiance's tendency to dominate the details of her life and push the limits of her standards?
Mere weeks before the wedding, Eva is thrown into a traumatic, life-changing event that changes her view of family commitment and creates a sharp contrast between her ideals and Sean's. With her engagement to Sean in jeopardy, Eva finds herself relying on the support and encouragement of Peter, her kind and attentive next-door neighbor. Faced with a choice between her penitent fiance and the increasingly mysterious Peter, Eva is unprepared for the consequences—and peril—that come with her decision.
I'm going to give you a heads-up right now that this review for The Guy Next Door is going to be a mixed bag.
I liked the plot of the story quite a lot. The backliner text seemed determined to be vague, but I will give a few things away--Eva's sister and brother-in-law are killed in a car accident and give the care of their infant daughter to Eva. This seems like the perfect solution to her--she was getting married and starting a family anyway, so it's really not that big of a deal to get started on it sooner, right? But her fiance doesn't see it that way, and a rift grows in their relationship that might or might not get healed.
In the meantime, handsome and mysterious next-door neighbor, Peter, comes on the scene, ready to be babysitter and house remodeler and knight in shining armor. But he's hiding something, and Eva doesn't know if she really can trust him.
Now for the parts that I didn't care for quite so much--there were some significant editing issues. We were told something in narrative only to be told the same thing in dialogue just a few pages later. There were really abrupt changes in subject without transitions, leaving us to wonder how the two subjects were related until we figured out that they weren't--it was a serious case of transition-lack-itis.
Perhaps the two biggest things for me--although the book was in first person, I didn't get the depth of emotion from Eva that I wanted. When I read a book in first person, I expect to feel a connection with the main character, and that was lacking. The second issue was the lack of foreshadowing. There is a suspense element late in the book, but the rest of the story seems like a family drama. I would have enjoyed more of a lead-in, an indication that something was coming. We did have a small hint, but not enough to balance it out.
Despite my gripes, I did enjoy the story itself. And lest you think I'm a total Grinch, allow me to share this--a review my sixteen-year-old daughter wrote about this book:
Fun, dramatic, and heartfelt. Follows the realistic story of Eva Black and the challenges she faces. Eva is excited for her marriage to the rich and charming Sean Langley until tragedy shows her his true colors in the rudest way possible--he doesn't share her family views. She hopes he will change, but are they really meant for each other? In the meantime, her mysterious next-door neighbor helps in any way he can. Overall, a great read.