Searching for Beautiful by Jennifer Probst
(Searching For #3)
May 26, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance 18+
Contains: Abuse triggers (mental, sexual), explicit sex, mature language
Source: eARC for Honest review
Genevieve MacKenzie has her life completely under control. About to wed the charming Chief doctor at the local hospital, she’s an up-and-coming surgeon with everything she could ever want. Until an escape through the church window on the day of her wedding sends her life into a tailspin...and flings her right into her best friend’s arms.
When Wolfe catches his best friend falling out a window on her wedding day, he doesn’t ask questions. He whisks her away, determined to watch over her and discover the truth behind her desperate escape. But when his feelings turn more than platonic, he realizes he may risk his most important relationship in order to protect his damaged heart, and the woman he loves.
Can Genevieve and Wolfe’s friendship turn into something deeper—or is it already too late for true love?
Searching for Perfect, as well as the book about Wolfe's surrogate parents, The Marriage Merger, both of which I loved, Searching for Beautiful can easily be read as a standalone. Having said that, I've wanted to know more about Wolfe ever since he was introduced in Sawyer's book, and this story was completely worth the wait.
Once I finished this book, I was so glad it wasn't a quick journey with easily resolved issues. This story revolves around two souls who have been abused (in different ways) and are finding their way back to life and love, hope and future. To gloss over their issues would be an insult, so I'm glad Probst allowed this story and journey to remain true to the hearts and minds of its characters, and progress in a natural sort of way. (Though maybe it could have been a tad bit shorter.)
There is a slow progression of sorts, as Gen is recovering from an abusive relationship, and Wolfe is still recovering from a horrible childhood. These two best friends find in each other someone who does not judge them, but accepts them for who they are. And in that person, they also find that it's okay, even great - actually it's quite perfect! - that the person you fall in love with should absolutely be your best friend, too. But admitting those feelings, both to yourself and outloud, is an entirely different thing. And their journey was so important to get there.
Gen, our runaway bride, has to rebuild herself from the shell she was left in since walking/running away from David and the mental damage he did to her. The constants of her friends, and Wolfe in particular, support her and encourage the strength she has to redefine herself and her future. Her emotional journey of recovery felt very significant and relatable to others who might be in a similar situation. Though I will say that sometimes I wished her friends' approach wasn't so hands-off.
Wolfe, Gen's best friend with a secret past he refuses to share, is just the friend Gen needs to help her through this difficult time. But getting close to Gen again also causes the walls that Wolfe has built up around his heart and the trauma of his past, to crack in miniscule places. And with more time together, and more reflecting on his life and self-worth, Wolfe has to decide whether he is worthy enough to allow those cracks to grow and splinter and finally shatter, or to fortify them once again. I loved Wolfe and my heart completely broke for him. His journey was heart-wrenching, and even more significant than Gen's. But watching these two build something new together was beautiful.
This is a well thought-out story that is not only friends-to-lovers, but also individuals healing from their pasts, regaining their self-worth, believing in love, and finding hope for their futures. It's about friendship and love, about acceptance and comfort, about family and future. It was beautifully done.
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Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.
She makes her home in Upstate New York with the whole crew. Her sons keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean.
She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, was ranked #6 on Amazon's Best Books for 2012. She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at www.jenniferprobst.com.