At 35, Rebecca Williamson is surrounded by happy endings. Her friends Suzanne and Marci are living out their own personal fairy tales in Atlanta. But despite Rebecca’s best efforts four years ago, her adorable college friend Jake Stillwell has officially slipped through her fingers and broken her heart. When Rebecca gets a frantic phone call from her mother back in Alabama, Rebecca is pulled back to the tiny town she worked so hard to leave behind and forced to face the hard truths about her family and past. A past that includes Deputy Alex Chen, who thinks of Rebecca as more than just an old friend’s kid sister. Can Rebecca navigate the chaos and get her life back to normal? Will Alex prove himself to be the friend she’s always needed? Or will she discover that the door to Jake is not as tightly closed as she thought?
After enjoying Regrets Only earlier this year I was excited to read Baggage Check, even though I wasn’t thrilled to learn that Rebecca was the main character. I haven’t read The Marriage Pact yet, but I know enough of its events that I already had a strong dislike for Rebecca. But Ms. Pullen’s characters are deep, complicated, and complex, and I found that the change in perspective allowed me to see a side of Rebecca that I never thought existed.
One of Ms. Pullen’s real strengths is her ability to engage readers with serious subject matter–mental health, infidelity, divorce, death of a child, marital problems–without overwhelming them with darkness. Despite the heavy topics broached, I would still classify this as a fairly light and uplifting read. As with Regrets Only, I appreciated that the romantic element was strong and sweet, but played second fiddle to Rebecca’s personal transformation.
As a side note, it was nice to see a realistic depiction of the south. I’m a native and current resident of Alabama, and it was refreshing to read a story set in the Birmingham area that didn’t depict everyone as backwoods morons. The drive times and road names were also correct, which is surprisingly something many authors don’t bother to research.
All in all, I loved this book and the series! I do still need to read The Marriage Pact, but it’s ready and waiting on my Kindle. M.J. Pullen is definitely on my list of favorite women’s fiction authors now, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.