A widow and her husband’s best friend fall in love, but even if it’s what the husband wanted, is it real? Firefighter Leo McGeary has always joked that, in the event of his death, he wants Garrett, his best friend and a consummate bachelor, to marry his wife, Audrey. One drunken New Year’s Eve, he goes so far as to make Garrett promise to do so. Twelve years later, Leo dies in a freak skiing accident. Within hours, Garrett quits his job and purchases a one-way ticket to Oregon to be with Leo’s family. As Audrey learns to navigate life as a widow and a single parent, her feelings for Garrett become more than platonic, and he begins to fall for her, too. But when she learns of the drunken pact made long ago, the promise that brought Garrett into her world becomes the obstacle to his remaining in it.
I hadn’t heard of Polly Dugan, but so far all the books I’ve read as part of the Summer Reading Challenge have been pretty great, so I knew this one – The Sweetheart Deal – would be a great book too!
The Sweetheart Deal is a story about Audrey, who is the mother of three boys. Audrey becomes widowed when her husband, Leo dies in a tragic skiing accident. Long before his accident, Leo makes his best friend, Garrett agree to his persistent plea that should anything ever happen to him, that Garrett would marry his wife, Audrey. Leo even gets Garrett to sign a piece of paper reflecting the arrangements of their drunken promise. Garrett wants to make good on his promise but Audrey has no clue what had happened that night twelve years ago. Garrett uproots his life and makes the move to Portland from Boston to make sure Audrey and the boys are okay and to honor his promise.
Garrett is so diligent in his efforts that his intentions toward Audrey become very genuine and not simply as a result of his promise to Leo. He helps out around the house and helps out with the boys too. Because Audrey is still riddled with grief and at first only looks at Garrett as a friend, until then she doesn’t, and she starts to see him with different eyes. Audrey finds herself falling for Garrett but at the same time, thinking that she is somehow cheating on Leo.
The whole thing comes to light when one of the boys finds the note and it leads to Audrey discovering what everything that has been happening the last few months in a ending that nobody will see coming! This book is about love and the different kinds that exist: between friends, family and spouses. Garrett has his own issues to deal with, and readers then realize that there is more to it than just helping out a friend and it could possibly be something that has been there all along.
In this book you will read through the perspectives of Audrey, Garrett and Audrey’s sons. The author has done a great job making the grief in this book feels very real to readers. Audrey is struggling, for obvious reasons, and readers can just imagine those instances taking place. Audrey has to sort through the hurt and coming to terms with her own feelings. This was a really well written book and I think readers will enjoy the unique situation that Audrey and Garrett finds themselves in, even if it’s because Leo died.
The Sweetheart Deal caused me to stay up later than what I had planned just to see how it all ends and it will leave you crying in some places at what is going on. Polly Dugan is definitely on my list of authors to keep an eye on in the future because I’ll be reading whatever it is she writes! It’s official folks, I’m a fan!
Polly Dugan lives in Portland, Oregon, and is a reader at Tin House magazine. A former employee of Powell’s Books, she is an alumna of the Tin House Writer’s Workshop. Dugan’s first published story, “A Matter of Time,” was Line Zero’s Spring 2012 Literary Contest Winner, “Masquerades” (as “One At a Time”), was Narrative’s Story of the Week (December 2012), and “Kitten Season” was an Honorable Mention Recipient in Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers (August 2009).
I received a complimentary paperback copy of this book from the publishers and BookSparks as part of the 2016 Summer Reading Challenge in exchange for this post, which is my honest review and unbiased opinion.
Keep checking out BookSparks’ Summer Reading Challenge 2016! There are so many more books you’ll want to put into your beach bag! This is going to be the “best summer ever.” #SRC2016 #BestSummerEver #BestSRCEver!