30 Days is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Seriously, I loved this book SO HARD.
Alyssa Barrow is only in her mid-thirties, but she’s a widow after losing her husband, Rob, to cancer. They had a comfortable but loving marriage, having met when Alyssa was just nineteen. In fact, Rob is the only man she’s ever had sex with, but she’s always been okay with that.
I wasn’t still looking for that special someone–I’d found and lost him.
When Rob was nearing the end of his life, he told Alyssa that he wanted her to find happiness again after his death–to move on and fall in love again. So Rob, feeling a little bit like Alyssa has been deprived, leaves her with a stack of sex cards. Thirty cards, to be exact, filled with thirty days of sex challenges, to be used when she’s ready. It’s a strange gift to leave for your widow, but clearly Rob had an interesting sense of humor.
He wrote me freaking sex cards. I fell in love with him all over again. My best friend and lover was giving me advice on how to hook up with other people from beyond the grave. The idea was a mix of weird and sweet, the perfect descriptor for him.
It’s two years after Rob’s death and Alyssa comes home to her condo one day to find that she has a new neighbor. A ridiculously hot new neighbor, in fact. It’s the first time she has felt something for anyone since Rob died and she’s not sure what to make of it. But the presence of Harrison Kemp, her new neighbor, gets Alyssa considering that maybe–possibly–she can attempt to start living again.
I could either continue to live a solitary life with my head and heart stuck in the past, or I could do what Rob wanted me to and take a step out into the big world on my own.
Despite the fact that she barely knows Harrison, Alyssa decides to enlist his help with completing her thirty days of sex. Harrison agrees, on the condition that the two of them understand that it’s just sex, not a relationship. Harrison is in town temporarily due to his work contract, so he’s leaving in three months. He’s also vague about his reasoning, only admitting that his last relationship ended badly. He and Alyssa agree that, with her history, she’s not ready for a serious relationship anyway. This will be purely physical and fun. No serious commitments.
(That’s what they all say in the beginning.)
This was totally about sex. Yup. No way I was going to let myself fall for the first guy I hook up with after Rob, because that had bad idea written all over it. Really bad. Super bad.
So begin the thirty days of sex. I don’t want to spoil the challenges because they are amazing and wonderful. They’re also sweet at times and simply dirty at others, and isn’t that the beauty of it? Alyssa finds herself actually having fun with Harrison, not just in bed with slowly getting to know him as well. Despite their initial agreement that it’s only sex, inevitably, they become friends. With that come all of the emotional entanglements that they swore they’d avoid by relegating their connection to the solely physical. That’s just the thing–it becomes clear that they’re falling for each other, despite their initial intentions.
This was what I’d been missing. It wasn’t so much about the sex as it was the connection.
With Harrison’s impending departure looming, there’s always a bittersweet feeling that surrounds him and Alyssa. That imminent separation creates a sense of urgency when they’re with each other because they know that their time together has an end date. But the deeper they go with their relationship (despite the fact that they don’t want to call it that), it’s obvious that emotions and hearts are becoming involved. Alyssa decides that she will try to win Harrison’s heart.
I knew that maybe, possibly, I was in love with Harrison.
Alyssa’s plans get a bit derailed along the way and because I loved this book so much, I will refrain from spoiling the ending. Suffice it to say that this book simply blew me away. It’s such an interesting mix, at times bittersweet and heart-wrenching, while at other times smoking hot and unbelievably sexy. The tone of the story reminded me of Anne Calhoun’s writing, but with much more levity. I loved getting to know Alyssa as a character; she’s someone you genuinely feel for and can cheer on. After living with so much grief and tragedy, you just want her to be happy.
For the majority of the book, I felt that Harrison is very much a mystery. I didn’t mind that at first, but as the plot went on, I wanted him to open up more to Alyssa. Eventually we do learn what he’s all about, but I would have liked more candor from him a little earlier on in the book. That’s really the only small complaint that I have.
Go forth and read this. It’s amazing and put me through a gamut of emotions: sadness, joy, frustration, elation, and finally, the lightness that comes after you’ve read something completely wonderful and unexpected. I love, love, loved this book and highly recommend it.
Love wasn’t an either-or situation. It was a limitless entity that grew in strength the more it was shared.
I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my review.