It starts out with the main character, Kate, looking back twelve years to when she was newly married to Patrick, the love of her life. The story begins when he's late coming home and they have a fight. The next day, he goes to work - but he never makes it, as he is in a car accident and dies. Fast forward to the present time and her engagement to her new boyfriend, Dan. Life seems to be going great for her again until she starts having dreams about her ex-husband and the life they could have been leading.
All these elements could be cliché. Heck, they are, even I will admit that. But Harmel handles the scenes without a maudlin air, and makes the story and the characters feel real. The characters make bad decisions and they aren't always perfect, but I was drawn completely into the story. What's amazing is the main character's occupation is as a music therapist to kids, especially disabled kids, and it felt as if the author must have been involved in that world also, since the details are so seamlessly incorporated into the narrative. However, reading Harmel's notes at the end, I was startled to learn that she'd created these characters' occupations all by research. One would never know when reading the book.
This is a romance, but romance is not really the only theme of the book, nor necessarily the conclusion the main character comes to at the end. Her ex-husband, the love of her life, IS dead, and she has to come to terms with that - but, in doing so, she realizes that there are many types of love, not all of them the ones she initially thinks are important. I would definitely recommend this book, and I plan on picking up Harmel's first book, The Sweetness of Forgetting.