“By turns heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny.”—Kristin Rockaway, author of How To Hack a Heartbreak
Sometimes love is unpredictable... in this witty and thought-provoking novel about a millenial widow whose life is thrown into disarray, with often hilarious results, when the most unexpected delivery arrives on her doorstep.
Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.
Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.
But when her quest reveals a shocking secret, Charlotte is forced to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at a new life arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.
While Belden's sophomore novel makes occasional missteps, this upbeat tale of finding connection and love after a tragic loss is nevertheless charming. Los Angeles data analyst Charlotte Rosen, 29 and unhappily single, is developing an app that evaluates compatibility between potential mates. She goes on frequent dates both to refine the app and to seek her own perfect match. No one knows and Charlotte herself has tried hard to forget that she had an apparent perfect match in Decker, her husband, who died five years ago. When Decker's ashes are unexpectedly mailed to Charlotte, the walls between then and now crumble, casting new light on all her comfortable but distant relationships with her roommate, Decker's mother, and the men she dates. Charlotte can be judgmental and self-centered, but as past conflicts reemerge, her reasons become clear and understandable. The second half of the narrative reveals yet more secrets and ends up feeling a bit compressed, with certain knots untangling mostly because the plot needs them to. Still, the heartfelt whole will keep readers engaged.
A story about second chances
Husband Material by Emily Belden has Charlotte Rosen thrown for a tailspin when the ashes of her deceased husband show up on her doorstep. She thought she had put the past behind her, but Charlotte had just put it off. With two weeks off to get her life together, Charlotte sets out to get answers with the assistance of her husband’s best friend. Husband Material is a romantic comedy that has some deep moments. Charlotte has been a widow for five years, but no one in her present circle knows that she as married. She moved to different apartment, learned how to code software and began working at The Influencer Firm. Charlotte may have been moving on, but she never dealt with her feelings about her husband’s death. We get to see her face some hard realities. Charlotte has been using numbers and algorithms to avoid getting close with a man or anyone else for that matter. She is now getting a second chance. If Charlotte wants to have a meaningful future, she needs to resolve her feelings of loss and guilt. Charlotte is a hard character to like, but she does grow on you as the story progresses. I found Charlotte’s roommate, Casey to be quirky and tell-it-like-it type of woman. I felt bad for her at times because Charlotte really takes advantage of Casey’s kindness. Charlotte was lucky to have such a kind boss in Zareen. It was interesting to learn what about influencers and the type of work Charlotte did to promote businesses. Husband Material is an emotional story about dealing with the past, letting it go, and embracing the future. I was surprised with the ending and some of the choices Charlotte made. I enjoyed the humor throughout the story which lightened some of the darker subjects. Husband Material is an engaging, uplifting story about second chances, forgiveness, taking risks, introspection, and moving forward.