Hey lovely readers!
Today’s post is a book review of The What He Doesn’t Know Duet by Kandi Steiner.
Before I start the review I want to say a few things. First, I will be reviewing these two books together, because they truly go hand in hand. So this review may be a bit lengthy. Second, I wanted to warn you about two things in the book. Cheating does take place in this story and there is a trigger warning for MINI SPOILER – pregnancy loss. And the last thing I want to say is my heart and soul went into this review, it was the most difficult to write. I can relate to certain things so much through a past relationship, I just wanted to be honest about that <3 Okay now for the review, starting with book one.
What He Doesn’t Know (What He Doesn’t Know Duet, #1)
“On the northeast side of town, there is a house. The house was once magical, filled with love and joy and plans for the future. Inside its walls are many things that belong to me — my books, the china from my mother on my wedding day, the beautiful cage once home to two birds, now empty, just like me. And a man. A man who also belongs to me. A man I no longer wish to keep. A man who, no doubt, has not slept, though the sun is rising. Because the house where he waits is where I laid my head to rest every night for eight years. Until last night. No one who knows me would believe Charlie Pierce, the quiet, bookish girl who never made waves is pulling out of the driveway of a man who isn’t her husband. But they don’t know me at all. I don’t even know me. Not anymore. They say there are two sides to every story, and I suppose in most cases, that’s true. But the one I live inside of? It has three. On the northeast side of town, there is a house. But there is no longer a home.”
I do not judge people for cheating. I firmly believe that there is always a deeper reason for cheating even if we don’t want to admit that or face it. This book is so real in its depiction of a broken relationship. Charlie and her husband have been married for the last 8 years, but the past 5 have been anything but happy. She struggles to keep her marriage together while her husband pulls further and further away. Enter Reese. Her childhood friend whom she had once loved.
Reese is barely holding on after losing his family and when he sees Charlie he feels hope for the first time in a long time. But the girl he sees isn’t the girl he once knew and he vows to take care of her in a way he feels her husband isn’t. Reese and Charlie have always loved each other in some way and eventually their feelings cross a line that changes everything.
This book really forces you to look at how much give and take is involved in any relationship. How much should we give of ourselves? How much is too much? And when is it time to say enough is enough? I’ve been there. Before I met my husband I was with a man whom I thought I would spend my life with. Sparing you the details he left and because I had made him my whole world I was left with no one. So this book really hit home with me, because I understand why Charlie is driven into the arms of another man. And I understand why Reese feels he needs to save her, because I met someone who eventually saved me. No relationship is what it seems from the outside and we cannot pretend to know what really goes on between two people.
Reese believes Charlie deserves better and Charlie blames herself for her crumbling marriage. They’re both broken and hurting and they find comfort in each other. They find who they used to be in the words they speak and the things they do together and it’s truly beautiful. But is it really right? All the while you can’t help but wonder how Charlie’s husband feels about all that has happened. Does he care about her and Reese? Should he? Does he even have the right to be with her anymore?
What He Always Knew (What He Doesn’t Know Duet, #2)
“Left or right. It’s that simple, and it isn’t simple at all.
If I turn left, the road will lead me back to the man I promised my life to, the one I’d imagined building a family with, the one who’s done everything in his power to get me back.
If I turn right, the road will take me to the man I loved first, the man who brought me back to life, the man who would do anything to keep me.
I knew the fork in the road was inevitable; it was the decision I never wanted to make between choices I didn’t know I had. And I love them both. My heart is destined to exist in two equal halves — one with each man. But one half beats stronger, the vein running deepest, and holds my choice in silence long before I know it for myself. The realization of what I have to do, of the heart I have to break, just might break mine too. Left or right. All I have to do is take a breath and turn.”
This book picks up right after the first one. And this time we get three points of view: Charlie, Reese, and Charlie’s husband Cameron. It seems as though Charlie has made her choice, her marriage is over, and Reese is who she wants. Yet Cameron is so sure that Charlie only loves the idea of Reese and begs for some time to win her back. She relents and what follows is a tug of war for her heart. She loves them both and she struggles to make her decision. And then we get to learn why Cameron is the way he is and how he felt when tragedy struck his happy marriage. Again you are left questioning so many things. Does Cameron deserve Charlie? Who should she choose? Is Reese doing the right thing by pursuing her? Does it matter that Charlie is married when the relationship has slowly faded over the years?
I won’t say what exactly happens or who she chooses, but I will say that I would have done the opposite. I can understand why she makes the choice she does, but I don’t think it was the right one. I believe that there is a reason for everything and that maybe bad things happen so we know when to truly appreciate the good. Some things are completely beyond are control and we can choose to let them make us or break us. And there is no shame in finding comfort in the arms of someone you love if that someone is the only one who can be there for you. Thank you Kandi for writing such a beautiful story. It is a ghost that will forever be with me. Powerful, honest, harsh, and heart breakingly real.
Thanks for reading guys! Talk to you soon! <3 Adrianna
*Covers and synopsis’ from Goodreads