The Birthday List by Devney Perry ~ Sarah A’s Review

Happily married to her college sweetheart, Poppy lived a blessed life with the husband of her dreams. Then everything changed. She is no longer a wife. She is no longer the envy of her single friends. Now, people look at her with pity as they whisper a single word behind her back.

Widow.

Years after her husband’s tragic death, years of pain and sorrow and wishing for the life she’ll never get back, Poppy decides to finish Jamie’s birthday list. She’ll do the things he wanted to most. Because maybe, just maybe, if she can complete his list, she can start to live again.

Poppy expects going through the birthday list will be hard. She expects it to hurt. But what she doesn’t expect is Cole. Could the man who delivered the news of her husband’s death and shattered her heart be the one to help her put it back together again?

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Forgive me if this review is incoherent or blabbers on, I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning reading it and am operating on very little sleep. Totally worth it, though. Poppy’s story started in the most heartbreaking way possible, I can’t even begin to imagine living without my husband, but her journey to healing and accepting the past for what it was was heartwarming and full of all kinds of wonderful love.

The Birthday List is a standalone novel; there are no cameos from previous novels. I would LOVE to see more books set in this world, three characters, in particular, called to me, but the story was complete as is and left no questions regarding Poppy and Cole unanswered. The novel is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Poppy and Cole.

I hate when reviews say this is a book you have to experience for yourself because it feels like a copout, but it’s so true for this novel. I will never be able to convey all the emotions and the intensity of learning to love again after such a great loss properly. Poppy’s chapters, in particular, felt so raw, like she was an exposed nerve and she had no idea what was going to tip her to the point she could no longer control her responses. I loved how Devney Perry showed her healing through those unexpected triggers and reactions, and how Poppy learned how and why she was finally moving forward.

Cole was perfection; seriously, if I were ever to end up in the same situation as Poppy, I could only hope to meet someone as kind, patient, and understanding as he was. From the moment he appeared in the dojo I knew he was wonderful, he had a gentleness not a lot of romance heroes have. His tender nature was exactly what Poppy needed and, instead of making him feel less manly compared to his alpha-male counterparts, made his masculinity even more pronounced as he didn’t have to be hard and demanding to demonstrate how strong and steady his love was.

This is where I would usually tell you my wishes for this book, however, I wouldn’t change a thing. So, I’m going to tell you one of the things I had anticipated but was thankful didn’t come to fruition instead. I was worried about having to recap Poppy and Jamie’s relationship and fall in love with him, only for him to die and have to move on to a new guy. Thankfully, with only a few anecdotes we got to know enough about his and Poppy’s relationship without going into too many details about their love story. It saved my heart a little pain and suffering.

Devney Perry won me over with her Jamison Valley series and more firmly cemented herself on my list of heartstring-playing authors with this book. I love her style and how effortlessly she’s able to embody each characters’ voice, making their chapters feel separate and unique. I hope she decides to write more books in this world, but if she doesn’t, I’ll happily read anything else she writes.

 

Turning to the door, I smiled, ready to greet my late-evening customer, but faltered as the door closed behind him.

Cole Goodman was walking my way.

My belly dipped as I took him in. His aviator sunglasses were perched on top of his chocolate-brown hair. A black polo stretched across his broad shoulders and pulled tight across his muscled arms. His pale-blue jeans molded to his Herculean thighs before draping down to his black, square-toed boots. The leather belt on Cole’s trim waist held both a shining badge and a holstered gun.

Cole smiled and locked his light-green eyes on mine as he crossed the room.

His straight, white teeth made my breath hitch—something that had happened last night more times than I wanted to admit.

Molly, who had turned around from her seat to greet our customer, spun around so her back was to Cole. Her cheeks flushed as she whispered, “Wow.”

Wow was right.

Cole Goodman was—simply put—gorgeous.

He could give a woman a speeding ticket and get a thank-you in return. He inspired women to attempt push-ups in a karate class just for the chance to watch him sweat through his gi. Cole made grown women blush like teenagers and giggle in corners, like those girls at the dojo last night.


 

Devney lives in Montana with her husband and two children. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her kids. She loves reading and, after consuming hundreds of books, decided to share her own stories.

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