Stephen Ames became estranged from his identical twin brother when they were 18 years old, after half a dozen tumultuous years when they were lived in separate states following their parents' divorce. He wasn't happy that Sam decided to join the military instead of following through on their plans to go to college together, and then one thing led to another so that they stopped speaking to each other altogether.
When Sam is killed on deployment in Afghanistan, Stephen feels the weight of regret. Wanting to get to know more about his brother's final years, he seeks out Sam's widow to ask questions and try to make up for missing so many years. But there's one thing he didn't count on, and that was that Sam had never told Haley about Stephen!
Living day to day trying to adjust to widowhood and the idea of being a single mother to her unborn baby, Haley is so shocked to learn about her husband's identical twin that she pulls a gun on him the first time he shows up. There were many things that were not perfect about their marriage, including Sam's frequent deployments, but she never guessed that he would have held back such pertinent information about his childhood. At first Haley wants nothing to do with Stephen, as it's too hard and strange to see the mirror of her husband, but he persists in showing up, bringing gifts for the baby, and helping with projects around the house.
Haley is an independent, tough-it-out tomboy, but Stephen can see that underneath the strength there's a woman who really needs help making sense of this time of her life. As he begins to understand why his brother fell in love with her, he fears she'll never be able to look at him and see anything other than Sam and the shadows that marred their marriage.
This book was a little bit slow taking off, as the characters have a lot of walls around their hearts. As the plot draws you in and the walls start coming down, I found the story impossible to put down and ended up reading the last 150 pages in one sitting. The themes were deep and thoughtful, especially having an estrangement in my own family, and the story was well-written. I quite enjoy Beth. K Vogt's contemporary fiction.