Cara Bastone’s Just a Heartbeat Away is a slow burn romance; it’s also an exploration of grief, loneliness, & happiness that hit me with emotion from the first words & left me certain that I’d just read something special.
When the book opens pre-k teacher Via DeRosa is kindly telling the freshly widowed & single dad Sebastian Dorner that he isn’t taking care of his son Matty properly. She gives him a break-down of things he should/could do for his son & it’s the shock that Sebastian needs to bring him out of a spiral.
Two years later Via’s the freshly hired counselor at Matty’s new school & Sebastian remembers what a service she did for him...& notices for the first time how beautiful she is. But she’s dating someone else & about 15 years younger. Still. Feelings.
This is one of those books where the leads’s hearts are mapped out & the author does it all gently & yet firmly. The difficult convos where Via & Sebastian bond over shared grief are really well done.
While emotions tied to rising up from grief & trying to connect with others are very much themes of the book there’s such happiness too. Such a sense of rightness. I can only say that Cara Bastone is an emotionally astute treasure.
Also she’s a freaking goddess of the slowwwww burn. There’s one quote about chocolate that had me internally gasping...& reading as greedily as I could.
What else do I love about Just a Heartbeat Away? How it’s a real journey for both characters. Neither sees the other in a romantic way for quite some time & that definitely affects the plot. The charming band of secondary characters (Tyler, you’re next!). And most of all, how kind Via & Sebastian are. How much they deserve to be happy & how happy I was when they finally are.
Just a Heartbeat Awayis out now. Thanks to Harlequin & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.