Matt Dawson has returned to Harmony Springs after ten years of pitching in the major leagues. His father thinks he’s a screw-up who should have joined the Army instead of playing ball. His old buddies think he’s a hero with a bottomless bank account. But Matt knows he’ll never be a hero, not like his brother Jon, who recently died in Afghanistan.
Emily Barton once dated Jon but their break-up was brutal, made even worse when Matt tried to intervene. Years later, Emily remains trapped on an emotional treadmill, regularly changing her apartment, her job, and her boyfriend in a futile attempt to regain her earlier success.
Determined to give back to Harmony Springs, Matt opens an American Discount thrift store. But Emily recognizes a threat to the downtown shopping district and she organizes a grassroots campaign. Will she succeed at driving the American Dollar out of town—and Matt out of her life—forever?
From the publisher via LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewer’s Feb 2016 batch
Just One of those Things is told from two main points of view – those of Emily (“Em”) and Matt – with multiple timeframes, which gives some insight into what happened previously between Matt, Jon and Emily, and what it was like for Emily to grow up as the middle child in an extended family. Emily has plenty of friends, who on her 30th birthday challenge her to go on 3 dates every month, starting with the next single guy they spot. Unfortunately, that guy is Matt, the brother of the man who broke Em’s heart 12 years previously and with whom she’d had a very brief flirtation.
On the first date, Em finds that Matt has returned to town, bringing the thrift store to the edge of the business district, which Em fears could change an already struggling economy for the worse. Matt believes that by bringing a thrift store to town to bring the stuff other people aren’t stocking will help the economy and not have people drive an hour away to the next town, or have to wait 2 days for internet deliveries.
Whilst the two of them flirt and date, there’s is also the community Save our Shops, initiated by Em, in an attempt to ward off the threat of the Thrift Store. Meanwhile, Matt is struggling to deal with his brother Jon’s death whilst in the army, and his father’s belief that it should have been him instead. He’s also trying to find his way in the world after coming out of the leagues, whilst dealing with a corporate world who don’t look on jocks too favourably.
Ultimately both people have to deal with what is true to themselves whilst doing what’s best for their family and friends. People get hurt along the way, as is always the case, but most of the time it’s dealt with ok. Some of the secondary characters come in and out of the frame and are not always 3 dimensional, but that’s ok – there could be some space for more stories in this community.
It’s not a fluff book – there are enough topics included to keep the reader challenged a little more than standard romance novels, which is not a bad thing. Overall it’s a decent contribution to the genre.