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Reviewed by Vera Pereskokova (Luxury Reading)

Annabelle has been married to Grant McKay for two decades – happily married for most. They’ve made a life for themselves in New Hampshire and raised two children; Nick is a freshman in college and Sophie is living in New York City with her husband. But every now and then, Annabelle falls into the trap of remembering Jeremiah, the man she had an affair with at the start of her marriage and has continued to love. She made a promise to Grant to never speak of the affair or of Jeremiah. But as her husband withdraws more and more into his work, Annabelle begins to feel that the true relationship in her life is one that she imagines with Jeremiah, whom she has not seen in over twenty years.

When a sudden family emergency leads Annabelle to New York, she is immersed in the memories of the years she spent there – of being a newlywed newly transplanted from California, of learning the ropes of the city, and most importantly, of the passion she shared with Jeremiah.

The city has changed, but Annabelle finds herself face to face with Jeremiah in a store the two used to visit together. The relationship she has nurtured in her mind has a chance of becoming a reality, and Annabelle must deal with the ramifications of the past she has pretended to ignore for so long.

Longing for the one that got away is a common theme in literature, but Maddie Dawson writes with a particular honesty that makes the characters very real and convincing. The Stuff That Never Happened alternates between the present and the past, when the affair took place, but the flashbacks only add to the understanding of the characters and their motivations.

I loved every minute of The Stuff That Never Happened! Dawson’s writing was like gulps of water after a salty meal – I could not get enough of the longing, the complicated ties between the characters, and the realizations that sometimes the scenarios that we build up in our heads are never as good as they seem.

Please visit Maddie Dawson’s website for more information.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Crown Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.