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From New York Times bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin comes a heartfelt story about overcoming great loss and forgiving past sins to find happiness again.

Brooklyn Hewett hasn’t set foot in Cape Harbor for fifteen years—not since an accident claimed the love of her life, Austin Woods. Desperate to move forward, Brooklyn has focused on raising her daughter for the past fourteen years. But when the opportunity comes along to renovate the old Driftwood Inn, Brooklyn knows it’s time to go home.

But it won’t be easy. For one, Austin’s best friend, Bowie Holmes, still lives in Cape Harbor. Brooklyn hasn’t quite been able to forget him: not since the night they spent together—the same night they both lost Austin. Separated by tragedy and guilt, they’re brought together by the Driftwood project. And as they rebuild the inn, they discover they’re also rebuilding something else.

Brooklyn’s always been desperate to move on, not knowing that she first needs to reconcile past transgressions. She can’t forget, but she can forgive—Austin, Bowie, and herself—on her way toward long-awaited happiness.

336 pages, Paperback

First published March 24, 2020

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About the author

Heidi McLaughlin

97 books6,972 followers
Heidi McLaughlin is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of The Beaumont Series, The Boys of Summer, and The Archers.

In 2012, Heidi turned her passion for reading into a full-fledged literary career, writing over twenty novels, including the acclaimed Forever My Girl.

Heidi’s first novel, Forever My Girl, has been adapted into a motion picture with LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions, starring Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe, and opened in theaters on January 19, 2018.

To stay connected with Heidi visit www.facebook.com/authorheidimclaughlin or heidimclaughlin.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 369 reviews
Profile Image for Syndi.
2,897 reviews634 followers
April 10, 2021
I want to give After All more than 2 stars. Sadly until the end, I decided on 2 stars instead.
I usually like small town romance. And After All gives me secind chance romance. Miss McLaughlin done a good job on bringing the small town to life.

What does not work for me is the characters. Both Brooklyn and Bowie are confusing character and lack of chemistry. And stupid to be frank. After ONS with Bowie, it never crossed Brookln who is the father of her child. 15 years she let it gone by.

And Bowie reaction to finally figure out he has a daughter, is like nothing going on. He remains indifference.
I want more romance, more chemistry so I can feel the love.

2 stars
Profile Image for Zoe.
1,818 reviews170 followers
April 15, 2020
Moving, uplifting, and sweet!

After All is an engaging, heartwarming tale that brings together the independent, single mom Brooklyn and the hardworking, patient Bowie as they discover that beneath all the past miscommunication, secrets, and heartbreak is an unconditional friendship and love that is still smouldering after fifteen years of absence.

The prose is emotive and sincere. The characters are hesitant, dependable, and endearing. And the plot is a tender tale brimming with relationship dynamics, introspection, parenthood, acceptance, forgiveness, love, romance, family, community, and new beginnings.

Overall, After All is an intimate, optimistic, bittersweet tale by McLaughlin that has characters you can’t help but root for and a happy-ever-after ending that leaves you eager for more.

Thank you to Thomas Allen & Son for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Bookgasms Book Blog.
2,761 reviews1,330 followers
March 31, 2020
There was something about this story. Something that wouldn't let me put it down. I connected to the story and I found the characters (well, most of the characters) to be so wonderfully lovable. I ADORED Bowie. Honestly, Bowie had my heart from the moment I met Luke and it only grew from there. He was my favorite kind of fierce, loyal, utterly adoring hero.

I loved Brooklyn too, though it wasn't quite as enthusiastic. She frustrated me sometimes. I wanted her - as an adult - to confront her issues and deal with the past. She was likable enough, but I didn't always connect with her. On top of that, the emotional punches were subdued. There was so much build-up and then they sort of fizzled out on me. Everything resolved so quickly and neatly and with very little drama. I was completely on the hook wanting to know how the story played out, but more than once I was left unsatisfied by the emotional depth of the story. The strongest emotional connection I felt was between Bowie and Brooklyn's daughter - and while I adored that storyline - it left me feeling a little underwhelmed with the love story between Bowie and Brooklyn.

In all, this was well written and compelling. Once I was in, there was no way I was going to walk away from the story - I HAD to know what happened. It's an interesting story, and I enjoyed the time I spent with the characters. It just lacked the emotional depth I needed to take it to the next level for me.
Profile Image for Michele.
1,232 reviews
March 4, 2020
After All was written with several different troupes blended into one book. It had a love triangle (albeit a little different spin on it), enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, second chance and more. I liked the premise of the story and also the main characters - - Brooklyn and Bowie. In addition, the supporting characters lent a great deal to the strength of the storyline. This book truly had all the ingredients to be spectacular - - but I needed a little more of a connection with the characters that I just didn't feel. For that reason, I can definitely say it was a good book, just not amazing.

Brooklyn has recently returned to Cape Harbor to help Carly (her daughter's grandmother) with refurbishing her Inn. Brooklyn's been gone for fifteen years and the friends she left behind, particularly Bowie, are a little bitter about being left behind for so long. There are a lot of hard feelings to work through, secrets to uncover, guilt to be addressed and emotions to struggle with. Right off the bat, I really liked Bowie. You can tell he is a good man who will do anything for those he cares about. Unfortunately, he's been damaged by life and is hurt by the fact that Brooklyn left so many years ago and never looked back. In addition to Bowie and Brooklyn's relationship, there are other relationships that need mending as well. After All provides these characters a chance to find redemption, healing and second chances.

Thank you to NetGalley, Montlake Romance and Ms. McLaughlin for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for E-Reader Addict.
1,032 reviews37 followers
April 13, 2020
Someone PLEASE send a therapist to Cape Harbor - PRONTO!

Brooklyn Hewett left Cape Harbor, Washington the day her boyfriend was laid to rest. Heavy with guilt about the fight they had and who she was with when Austin died, she left without a word to anyone and didn’t return for 15 years - until she was summoned home to help bring life back to the Driftwood Inn, the seaside resort owned by Austin’s mother, Carly.

Once Brooklyn arrives at the inn with 14 year old daughter Brystol in tow, she’s forced to work with Bowie Holmes - also known as Austin’s best friend, and her confidant throughout her relationship with Austin. It’s a reunion neither was aware was going to happen, nor were either of them happy about it. But as they work together to repair the Driftwood Inn, they finally have a chance to talk about the past and repair their relationship.

I really liked the premise of the plot, but the execution was a hot mess. After All was a guilt-fest of epic proportions - both self-inflicted and imposed on others. It was tiresome by the half-way point of the book, and never let up. Brooklyn felt guilt for leaving and never coming back, Bowie felt guilty for not trying to find Brooklyn, Carly felt guilty for becoming a recluse (but oddly enough...not guilty for the one thing she SHOULD have felt guilty for), everyone felt guilty for not reaching out to Carly after her son’s death. Geesh. Go see a therapist already!!! All of you!

The main storyline between the hero and heroine was bogged down by the author’s attempt to make things way more “dramatic” than they needed to be, which resulted in a jumbled, barely comprehensible mess. So much of the story felt...contrived. Forced. Clunky. Cape Harbor is a fishing town, where everyone is aware of the dangers of fishing. People had died in the past. So what made Austin’s death so tragic, so worthy of commemorating - with a town festival no less - year after year? The fact that all these people are still having a memorial service for someone who died 15 years ago is just...odd. He didn’t die heroically. In fact, he was reckless and foolish. The whole situation with the town “idolizing” this kid in his early 20s never added up for me, which means a good portion of the book is nonsense.

Add in that the author tried to build extra suspense by only doling out crucial information about the past in bits and pieces and this book just frustrated me. The prologue did nothing to draw me in (actually, it mostly caused confusion), and it took several chapters for me to get interested. At 25% my husband asked me about the book I was reading - as he often does! - and I was at a loss for how to describe the story. Very little was making sense at that point. Because again, the author didn’t just come out and tell us what the history was. She was trying to be all mysterious and dramatic. But it didn’t work for this reader.

I’ve read quite a bit by Heidi McLaughlin, and this is the first time I’ve felt like the writing, the storytelling, was...off. To me it seemed like she was trying to build a story with more depth, but instead created more chaos. I really feel like if she’d just stuck to the story with Brooklyn, Bowie, Brystol, and Carly - and not tried to bring in the whole town - After All would have been a much cleaner, more compelling story. Will I read the rest of this series? Eh, probably. Ms. McLaughlin did manage to create a sufficient amount of interest in Austin’s friend group that I’ll most likely read more. I just hope the stories aren’t plagued with the same issues I had with this one...

* thank you to NetGalley and Montlake Romance for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for TJ.
2,686 reviews163 followers
December 30, 2020
A bittersweet look at young love, mistakes made and the guilt that follows. There were lots of layers that make up the storyline and keep the reader engaged. I loved Bowie’s character but really, REALLY had a hard time liking Brooklyn. Truly wanted to slap her upside the head and tell her to grow a stinking back-bone. Overall, it really was a lovely story, though.
Profile Image for Anne OK.
3,481 reviews444 followers
April 18, 2020
McLaughlin is always a hit or miss with me. This was middle of the road. There were parts that I liked and found myself caught up in, but not enough that reached stand-out ratings.

I'll leave it at that -- unless I find some time to come back and dig a little deeper into the why-nots.
Profile Image for Shabby  -BookBistroBlog.
1,463 reviews769 followers
October 20, 2020
A small town story, set against the background of a personal tragedy that turns into a Township Memorial, the story carries a lot of weight. The burdens of guilt on every character are a ton each and that slows down the pace of their lives, and bringing to a complete standstill in some people's cases.
It's a town where hope has died with Ashton, the local hero. A popular guy followed by the townspeople like a Pied Piper. With him gone, it's like someone switched 8ff the light and now the whole seaside fishing town is shrouded in a blanket of dismal darkness
Driftwood Inn owner CarlY, mother of Ashton has suffered the most and she calls back the Prodigal Daughter back to start the change reaction.
Brooklyn comes back after 15 years, with a teen daughter in tow- Bristol
She has to face the wrath and disappointment of her childhood friends and sympathy of older folks
And then Bowie. She broke his heart when she ran away and he's been slowly agonizing to extract his pound of flesh from this heartbreaking crush.
Very sentimental story, told with lots of tears and agony.
The narrator was EXCELLENT, very modulating and brought all the characters to life.
4 stars for My Bees
Follow me on:
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Profile Image for L.P. Dover.
Author 108 books3,368 followers
March 24, 2020
I love a good second-chance romance and Heidi McLaughlin did NOT disappoint. I've read almost all of McLaughlin's books, but this one really captured me. It has everything you could ever want in a book: love, emotions that grip your heartstrings, a breathtaking coastal setting, and a story that makes you feel like you're right there in the midst of it all. After All is definitely going to be my favorite read of 2020!
Profile Image for Darcy.
12.4k reviews425 followers
March 26, 2020
I liked this one, but there were times it got a bit eye rolling. Austin was on such a pedestal it drove me nuts. It's like he should have been sainted, yet know one remembered his faults. I also thought part of the storyline with him and the last fight with Brooklyn was dropped. I wanted to know why he picked the fight and quite honestly expected him to come back from the dead at some point.

I really liked Bowie and Brooklyn together, once they let themselves act on the attraction. Before that happened they were tedious with the hate, regret and guilt. I liked the legacy that Carly left for them, but not sure that I would have been able to forgive her for the secret she kept. It cost some of them a lot, time they never can get back.

The ending to this one was good, just what everyone deserved.
Profile Image for TeriLyn.
1,335 reviews385 followers
April 4, 2020
I couldn’t connect with this heroine at all, she came off as mean most of the time. The roots of the story and other characters kept me wanting to see how it played out.
Profile Image for Shabby  -BookBistroBlog.
1,463 reviews769 followers
October 20, 2020
A small town story, set against the background of a personal tragedy that turns into a Township Memorial, the story carries a lot of weight. The burdens of guilt on every character are a ton each and that slows down the pace of their lives, and bringing to a complete standstill in some people's cases.
It's a town where hope has died with Ashton, the local hero. A popular guy followed by the townspeople like a Pied Piper. With him gone, it's like someone switched off the light and now the whole seaside fishing town is shrouded in a blanket of dismal darkness
Driftwood Inn owner Carly, mother of Ashton has suffered the most and she calls back the Prodigal Daughter back to start the change reaction.
Brooklyn comes back after 15 years, with a teen daughter in tow- Bristol
She has to face the wrath and disappointment of her childhood friends and sympathy of older folks
And then Bowie. She broke his heart when she ran away and he's been slowly agonizing to extract his pound of flesh from this heartbreaking crush.
Very sentimental story, told with lots of tears and agony.
The narrator was EXCELLENT, very modulating and brought all the characters to life.
4 stars for My Bees
Follow me on:
Email🌻 Bookbub 🌻 Twitter🌻 Instagram🌻 Blog🌻 Facebook🌻 Amazon 🌻
Profile Image for Jean.
800 reviews45 followers
February 29, 2020
This was a pretty slow burn and a little predictable. Not a lot of drama and no real twist or surprises for me.

That being said, it was a second chance romance with lots of deep regret, guilt and secrets.

A nice easy read, with a possible surprise for some who may not predict it early in the book, with a mix of characters in a small fishing town. I really liked the book!
Profile Image for Wendy W..
518 reviews116 followers
July 10, 2021
You can also find my review on my blog at https://thebashfulbookworm.com/audiob...

After All by Heidi McLaughlin is the first book in her Cape Harbor series. I listened to this on audiobook. I added this book to my audiobooks library a long time ago and finally had a chance to listen to it. It’s a small town, the heartwarming romance between old friends, brought together again to renovate an Inn.

Brooklyn Hewett, left Cape Harbor fifteen years ago after her heart was broken when her boyfriend, Austin, is tragically killed in a boating accident. She returns to the Inn, owned by Austin’s mother, to renovate and bring the Inn back to life. She doesn’t realize that Austin’s best friend, Bowie, will be in charge of construction. Brooklyn and Bowie had a complicated past, and being together again brings back old memories better left forgotten.

I really enjoyed this small-town romance. The characters are strong and likable, and all have their past trama’s to deal with. I thought the pace of the book was good, and the setting was beautiful. There is enough angst between the two main characters to make their path to love realistic and engaging.

The narration was very good. I enjoyed listening to this book.
Profile Image for Amber.
602 reviews3 followers
February 29, 2020
OMG! Heidi McLaughlin will have you on an emotional roller coaster with After All. This book had so many twists and turns and once I started I was hooked. I absolutely love her writing style and this story was amazing and pulls in your heart strings. I loved the characters especially Bowie. He was one who tried not to wear his heart on his sleeve but did. I loved the connection between him and Brooklynn even if it was a complicated one. I could read these characters forever, I’d love to know more about Grady. He was one character that had so much emotion and I wanted to know why. I truly loved reading this story, it was def my fave ugly cry for the year. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Vfc.
1,445 reviews
August 11, 2022
Carly’s tasked Brooklyn and Bowie with restoring the Inn to its former grandeur…Bowie’s divorce from Rachel will be finalised in ninety days.

Moving from a metropolis to a small town had a way of changing your path as well as your life. The hopes and dreams she had when she arrived in Cape Harbor were quickly set aside. Her new friends weren’t dreamers. Not in the sense that she was.

Brooklyn had declared she would leave after she graduated high school. She had wanted to move back to Seattle with her parents and attend the University of Washington but Austin derailed her plans. When Brooklyn would bring up the career path she wanted to follow, Austin would always tell her there would be time for her to do her thing once his business took off. There would always be time.

He’d promised her they would move once his business took off. The business had thrived, and yet the move was postponed for one reason or the other until both Austin and Brooklyn had enough. The problem was that it didn’t matter to Austin if it was five minutes, six hours, forty days, or three years. It simply meant not right now.

Austin was, by all accounts, sainted, but to Bowie he was flawed, his best friend had been a spoilt, self-centered a*shole. Still, he’d loved Austin he just wasn’t immune to his faults.

From the moment Brooklyn had met Austin, she’d been smitten, she’d seen her soul mate and knew that he was her future. Other girls thought the same, some hadn’t cared that he had a girlfriend and had tried their best to grab his attention. At times, it worked. At times, Austin paid far too much attention to someone who wasn’t Brooklyn. She later realises that for years she allowed him to push his identity on her.

She missed Austin, she missed his laugh. She didn’t miss his attitude about their future, his lack of remorse when she saw him flirting with other girls, and the way he spoke to her the night he died. When he told her that he didn’t love her.

“You probably wonder why I stay with him or why I let him act this way. Sometimes I ask myself the same questions. I’m in love with that stupid boy in there, and he has no idea how much. Sometimes, I feel like he tells me he loves me because it’s the safest thing to say. I just want him to see me.” But Bowie sees her.

Before his death, Austin confided about his relationship with Brooklyn to his mother. He had wondered if Bowie was the better man for Brooklyn, admitting that Bowie likely loved Brooklyn more than him.

The night Austin recklessly set sail and vanished, he set her free. Austin was dead. Her parents had moved back to Seattle a year after she graduated high school. There was no longer a reason to remain. She severed ties and left. Things might’ve been different had she rung, written or told him she was leaving. She’d chosen to leave, because she had known any relationship she and Bowie had, was over, and seeing him every day would’ve destroyed her. Leaving had been her only option and she’d vowed to never return. Everyone heals differently. There’s no timeline or handbook for mourning. We all do whatever’s necessary to get us through the day.

After his death, she was thankful that Carly had tracked her down. She had found Brooklyn at her parents’ house weeks after his funeral. She was the only one to seek her out, to come looking for her. It was only Carly who came. No one else. She’d realised after leaving that she was pregnant.

As soon as she’d found out she was going to be a mother, her dreams of being a nurse had been set aside, and she’d started doing what she knew how to do best, which had turned into painting the interior of homes after she’d had Brystol. Bowie had taught her how to use a paintbrush, and she had always found the job therapeutic, working with a contractor for about three years, remodelling had become her therapy. She took home-improvement classes until she’d set out on her own.

Each year Austin’s friends gather on the beach . . . to celebrate his life. Tonight marks the fifteenth anniversary. Sometimes all their friends returned to pay homage, other times, it was only Monroe, Graham, Grady, and Bowie. This year, though, it was everyone. Truthfully, Bowie wanted this gathering to stop. The reminiscing was painful. Bowie wanted one year where they, as a group, didn’t sit around and talk about Austin. Even their high school reunions, which, oddly enough, happened every summer as well, were geared toward remembering Austin.

“Why would they do this? Sit on my beach where I can see them?”
“I think it’s because this was where we always hung out with Austin. This was our place, our beach. This was our home away from home. You made us all feel like we were your children. I don’t think they’re doing it to hurt you; more so, they’re probably trying to show you they still care and trying to hang on to a little bit of the lives they had back then”.

Brooklyn couldn’t be certain of this, especially since no one had come around to check on Austin’s mum. If they had put in as much effort to remembering Carly as they had her son, then maybe she wouldn’t have turned into a recluse or closed the doors on the inn. Brooklyn’s efforts weren’t much better, but at least she spoke with Carly.

Even though Brooklyn had left Cape Harbour, she’d had the presence of mind to ensure Carly was an integral part of Brystol’s life. Anyone could see the love and admiration they shared for one other. She’d figured out after her encounter with Monroe at the store that no one had known that she (Brooklyn) had a daughter.

The miniature version of Brooklyn was standing there talking to Simone as if they’d known each other for longer than a day or two. The young woman was a few feet away, smiling. She had the same smile as . . . her mother.
“Is the black dog yours, sir?”
If this girl was comfortable here, did that mean she was Austin’s? There was no way Carly Woods would hide her son’s daughter from his friends.
“He’s very nice. I asked my nonnie if he could stay in the house with me
while you worked.”
“My grandma. She owns the inn.”
Austin had a child, and no one knew. Not one of his friends had been invited to be a part of her life. Austin’s friends would’ve made sure the girl was cherished, but instead, no one had said anything.

Carly had been living the life of a recluse, she’d never thought to ask her daughter if her vivacious grandmother had turned into an eccentric homebody. Only, Brystol wouldn’t have known the difference, as back in the day, Carly Woods was a sight to behold. A standout beauty and the life of the party.

Bowie hadn’t been the only one to disappear from Carly’s life after Austin’s death, everyone did. Death has a way of both tearing people apart and bringing them together. Carly and her son’s friends have maintained a distance and he surmises that all that mattered was that she was loved. It didn’t matter if people showed her then or now, as long as she knew.

Brooklyn wanted to shake sense into each one of Austin’s friends. Everyone’s honorary mother, she had opened her door, her life, and her heart to them, and they had all abandoned her. Brooklyn wasn’t much better, but at least she had given her Brystol.

After he’d left Carly’s, he’d searched for Brooklyn on the internet. He’d only had to type her name and the first letter of her last name before her website and hundreds of links and images popped up. She wasn’t just someone who painted interiors but one of the most sought-after decorators and renovators in the country. Her client list was a who’s whom of celebrities. Anyone from actors to singers to professional athletes. Not to mention clients who paid premium to have Brooklyn transform their visions into their dream homes. tHer job afforded her many luxuries, except roots. She travelled thousands of miles, to and fro across the country, leaving an impression everywhere she went. She didn’t rent a home, let alone own one.
Brooklyn had made a name for herself.

“She’s beautiful.”
“I’ve asked her to stay.”
“She needs to put down roots, and this is her home.”

Carly has stage IV breast cancer and has refused treatment. Going through her papers, Carly had a DNA test done and Bowie is Brystol’s biological father.
Many years ago, Carly had suspected Brystol might not be Austin’s, instead of saying something to Brooklyn she’d secretly had a DNA test performed on her at three. The test proved that Austin was not the father. She’d kept the results to herself and continued acting as if Austin were Brystol’s father. That damage would now have to be repaired by Brooklyn and Bowie.

Brooklyn had never allowed herself to explore that line of thinking.
Regret lived inside of Brooklyn. Guilt over leaving after Austin’s funeral. The remorse she felt for staying away. Shame for her actions in general. Years of therapy hadn’t been able to cure her; of course it may have helped had she stuck it out with one therapist, but her job wouldn’t allow for that. She chose to live out of hotels because they were easy, no commitment, and her permanent residence was a post office box in Jacksonville, Florida. Deep down, she knew Brystol wanted friends—she wanted to feel like a normal teenager—and giving her daughter a stable homelife would be the right thing to do.
Carly wants them to stay.
“Make a life here. Give Brystol a home. Let her grow up with her father’s friends. With me.”
“Why don’t they know her? Why haven’t they come around? Why haven’t you left this house?”
“Losing Skip was hard, but Austin’s death crippled me. If it weren’t for Brystol . . .”
She didn’t want to see the looks of pity and sorrow on their faces—she wasn’t ready.
“But you are now?”
“You’re here. My granddaughter is here. You both give me purpose.”

Brystol is a well-adjusted fourteen year old and time-shares her summer holidays between Brooklyn’s parents in Seattle and Carly in Cape Harbour. Family is all about the love you made with the people you cared about the most. It rarely has anything to do with blood.

After Carly dies, she leaves all her worldly possessions, the inn and estate including Austin’s trust fund to Brystol. She is told of her parentage and Bowie’s parents learn that they’re grandparents to a fourteen year old. Which means that Bowie can have children, thus, Rachel lied to him.

The Inn is restored to its former glory, Simone remains in charge of the inn, Bowie is invited to move in with Brooklyn and Brystol, they marry and ultimately collaborate on future projects… and the friends reunite.

Perhaps they needed the time apart from each other, to grow and learn, before finding their forever. Bowie’s love for Brooklyn remained unwavering despite time and distance.

An emotional rollercoaster of diverse characters. Rennie remained a truly incredible, supportive best friend.

Minor grammatical flaws.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,365 reviews27 followers
February 23, 2020
Imagine living in a community where everyone knew all of the comings and goings in your life. Living in Cape Harbor for fifteen years, Brooklyn knew all too well how your past followed you into the present. While growing up, Brooklyn was the girlfriend of Austin Woods. Then tragedy struck and life would never be the same for this small town.

Determined to leave the stigma of her past behind, Brooklyn left Cape Harbor as soon as they said their ‘goodbyes’ to Austin. There were so many secrets about the reasons behind Austin’s choice to take his boat out in a storm. Keeping her own secrets about that night, Brooklyn chose to raise her daughter far away from the place that she once called home.

Over the years, the inn that Austin’s family once kept open to travelers was now a bit run down by age. Austin’s mother has convinced Brooklyn to come back to town and restore the inn to its former glory. In order to do that, old friends will come back into the picture to pull off this huge project. The largest construction company in Cape Harbor answers the summons to work on this project, a job that will keep Bowie’s business out of the red for another season.

Brooklyn knows that she needs Bowie to help her finish the project, but wasn’t prepared for the lingering feelings from their past. Fifteen years may have passed, but the duo certainly felt the same effects of their attraction that existed long ago. With so many secrets swirling about the past, Brooklyn knows she has to make peace with the gravity of the life she left behind.

What an amazing palate cleanse I found when turning the pages of After All by Heidi McLaughlin. There are times as a reader that I find myself wanting to delve into a romance that pulls at your heartstrings. Brooklyn and Bowie provided a backdrop to a romance that definitely left me smiling when I turned the last page. There are secrets the residents of Cape Harbor are keeping that will unfold as the story progresses. Some will lead you to solving a little mystery that wasn’t really hidden that well, but definitely doesn’t spoil the end result.

After All is a wonderful and sweet romance that gives you faith in overcoming the hardest days in your life. Life in Cape Harbor is definitely worth the ‘drive’.
Profile Image for Maria.
1,727 reviews30 followers
February 24, 2020
Received an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for a fair review
3.5 stars.
A very romantic and sweet love story, set in a charming costal town I fell in love with, “After All”, by Heidi McLaughlin (Montlake Romance), features an appealing, brooding hero, who quickly learns second chances should be grabbed right away.
The old crush and the yearning is so well written. Bowie’s feelings of defeat, self-pity, jealousy and envy are wonderfully portrayed and instead of putting me off, they made the male character more endearing to me. Bowie broods a little but he’s also far too practical to let it linger. He’s also a very decent person who, in the beginning of the story, is going through some tough times. Having his POV throughout the story makes him just a regular, ordinary man, with qualities and flaws.
The story has some unexpected twists, a bit far-fetched sometimes, and there’s a bit of repetition and dragging but I enjoyed so much watching our handsome teddy bear hero reach his HEA with the heroine.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,637 reviews161 followers
July 8, 2021
I wish I'd loved this one more but it just wasn't for me. I'm sure others will love it more. I just couldn't connect with the main character and didn't find her cute or nice. I wasn't following the love story and really hoping it went one way or another. I found the lack of wanting to know and lack of doing anything for so many years unlikely. I wish I'd loved it more.

A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.
Profile Image for Emily.
970 reviews11 followers
May 2, 2020
This was a sweet, yet predictable book. Perfect for reading outside on a beautiful spring day. I absolutely loved the characters in this story. There were a few spots that felt like they needed some finessing, or a little more information to connect the story line/keep the story smooth. Overall though, I enjoyed it!
Profile Image for Ayre.
861 reviews32 followers
February 1, 2023
Brooklyn moved to Cape Harbor when she was a Sophomore in High School. The first person she meets is a boy named Austin who she proceeds to date for the next 6 years. At 22 Austin tells her he doesn't love her anymore and runs off. Hours later she proceeds to have sex with Austin's best friend, Bowie, and while they're doing it Austin dies when his boat capsizes in a storm. Brooklyn flees Cape Harbor and doesn't return for 15 years when Austin's mother hires her to renovate her inn. She kept in touch with Austin's mother and no one else because she was pregnant with Austin's baby when he died. This is a 2nd chance romance between Brooklyn and Bowie.

I don't like contemporary romance and this book didn't have much of a chance of being over 3 stars for me. That being said this is objectively bad. The characters are very two dimensional with little to no personality. The main characters should be in their 30s but their lack of therapy and dealing with their feelings has them emotionally stuck in their early 20s. Everyone's emotions were either overblown or non-existent, usually the opposite reaction expected for a situation. This book is written in a very "tell not show" type of way. Bowie has apparently been in love with Brooklyn for over 20 years but I couldn't tell you why. Brystol is Brooklyn's 15 year old daughter but her dialogue makes her feel more like 7 year old. She also has the personality of a soggy piece of bread and zero emotions. It feels like she was written is as an excuse for Brooklyn to return to Cape Harbor and but the author didn't know what to actually do with the character. Austin's character is also portrayed very weirdly. He has to be so beloved by the town that they're still obsessed with his death 15 years later but he also has to be a complete and total asshole to Brooklyn so the reader is okay with her sleeping with his best friend.

In addition to the story being bad the editing wasn't great either. There is character whose name literally changes 4 times in the same paragraph. Most of the book her name is Rennie but its Renee twice in that paragraph.

Now this book probably should have been 2 stars but early in my reading experience I had the premonition that something was going to be used as a plot twist and I said to my dog, "if this actually happens I'm giving this book 1 star". It obviously happened. The hate reading to discover if this was going to be used as a plot twist was the only thing keeping me from DNFing this book.

I don't recommend this for anyone, there is much better contemporary small town romance out there.
Profile Image for Jeeves Reads Romance.
1,394 reviews487 followers
March 23, 2020
I really, really struggled with the writing style on this one. A lot of my favorite books come from this publisher, so I didn't hesitate to check out this new-to-me author, but the extremely internalized, clean, and subdued writing felt more like one of my grandma's romance novels than something from 2020. That combined with a lackluster plot and a couple of frustrating elements have me dropping this rating lower than I normally go. There were parts of it that I liked, but they were far outweighed by the things I took issue with.

Essentially, the story is about Brooklyn and Bowie as they reconnect after 15 years of not seeing each other. When they were younger, Brooklyn dated Bowie's best friend, so he spent years keeping quiet about the feelings he harbored for her. One night changed everything, ending with Brooklyn's boyfriend dead and Bowie and Brooklyn's relationship in tatters. Years have passed since they've seen each other, but there are still old feelings that linger... made all the more complicated by the fact that Brooklyn is now a single mother to a 14-year-old girl.

I did like the personalities of both Bowie and Brooklyn, as well as the small town charm of the book. We get to see their relationship both in present day and in flashbacks, which helps give a better sense of their feelings. There was definitely potential in the story, but unfortunately the execution was lacking. Have you already guessed the twist? So did I. Why can't the characters? That alone dropped this a full star for me, because... really?

I didn't get the warm and fuzzies from this one; for a book that's focused on romance, the romance was actually kinda lacking. It's more like these two go from awkward, angry interactions to love, and the last 15 years never happened. I could go on, but I think you get the point. I appreciated receiving an ARC via NetGalley (and am voluntarily leaving a review), but this didn't work for me.
Profile Image for Julie Kirby.
916 reviews11 followers
March 30, 2020
What an interesting story, second chances, with friends family and lovers.

Whilst it took me a while I savoured it all, from horny teenagers to best friends to secrets and sadly to loneyless.

Bowie, Brooklyn, Carly, Simone, Brystol and Austin all such important parts of the story but hugely connected.

I loved the suspense, and not being able to second guess the secrets, I was hoping that we would find out what the secrets where, and was not disappointed with the telling of the story.

I loved Byrstol's connection with Bowie's dog Luke, they has a lovely relationship - even Bowie was jealous.

Brooklyn leant a lot about herself, we see her blossom with each chapter, settling into life at Cape harbour, ther was a lot of unfinished business and glat that a lot of ends were tied up - even when there were more questions than answers.

15 years is a long time for a town to hold onto such memories, but everyone only had good things to talk about with their memories.

A thought provoking story, that builds as you read, that has you living through the roller coaster ride - right along with Brooklyn and Bowie.

Thoroughly enjoyed this story, can't wait for the next installment.
Profile Image for Sara Oxton.
3,332 reviews12 followers
February 16, 2020
After All by Heidi McLaughlin a five-star read that is all in. This is a story that will stay with me for a long, long time, I do not know how I missed this author, as what amazing writing. Cape Harbour and the views from the Driftwood Inn windows are some that I would love to see, they are described so well you can feel the salty air on your face. Brooklyn Hewitt ran away and who could blame her, her life as she knew it was over and would never be the same again, but what she didn’t realise in her grief was that she wasn’t the only one who had lost everything. But almost fifteen years later an opportunity comes a knocking and that knocking unleashes more than she can ever imagine. Austin Woods has cast a very large shadow, but his loss was only a tiny part of this monumental story. There are so many highs and lows with this one, you will be sobbing into the pages in one breath and then have a secret smile in the next. Heidi McLaughlin is without a doubt going to become a must read author for me.
Profile Image for Kari Hansen.
9,117 reviews55 followers
March 25, 2020
It’s been fifteen years since the most painful night of Brooklyn’s life when she an accident stole the man she loved and after the way she handled her grief she thought she had no other option but to leave her hometown as well as everyone she loved behind. She never planned on coming back but and intriguing offer brings her and her daughter home to face her past.

Bowie had always loved Brooklyn, but he also knew that nothing would ever happen to them as she was involved with his best friend. When she returns home, he has mixed feelings as he was devastated when she left but has missed her as well. His company will be handling the construction on the Inn that she is helping to renovate, and this will either be their opportunity to heal from the pain of the past or cause further heartbreak that they may never recover from.

This is an emotional story featuring two compelling characters and a great cast of secondary characters. With each secret that is revealed your heart will break a little more, but the ending makes the journey worthwhile.
Profile Image for Pennie Morgan.
2,024 reviews7 followers
July 30, 2020
This one left me with so many emotions I had to leave it for several days before I could write the review. Brooklyn lost the love of her life 15 years ago and this is the first time she has come back to Cape Harbor and only because Austin's mother has asked her to help her get the Inn rehabbed and ready to open. The only problem is mom is plotting and brings on a partner, Bowie. Can they get past the hurts of the past and forge a new beginning? There are several side stories brought to light and I can see this series going in many different directions. I cannot wait! Definitely a recommendation from me.
Profile Image for Dasha.
1,097 reviews11 followers
August 24, 2020
1.5 estrellas.

A punto he estado de darle una estrella. Al principio me enganchó muchísimo pero en cuanto el primer problema se solucionó, sin más, todo empezó a ir de mal en peor. Los personajes no parecen seguir un patrón de comportamiento lógico. La hija adolescente parece una niña pequeña por sus reacciones a algunas situaciones y en otras parece más madura.
El giro "inesperado" en la trama es ridículo. ¿Cómo puede ser que la protagonista no lo hubiese pensado ni por un momento? De hecho, yo lo descarté al principio precisamente porque ella ni se lo plantea, así que pensé que no era posible (por no poner spoilers esto parece un acertijo).
El libro es demasiado largo y sobra el drama en la parte final. Podría haber terminado mucho antes y, en mi opinión, mucho mejor. Creo que con incluir un epílogo habría bastado.
Lo peor para mí creo que ha sido el drama, la fama exagerada del novio y, sobretodo, el sentimiento de culpa exagerado de la protagonista. Chica, me daban ganas de darle una vara y ponerla a flagelarse y a entonar el mea culpa. Qué cansina.

Leeré el siguiente libro porque me ha picado lo suficiente la curiosidad (de ahí el redondeo a dos estrellas) como para que quiera seguir con la saga. Además, he leído por ahí que este no es un buen ejemplo de esta escritora. Ya veremos.
March 27, 2020
Oh wow! Get ready to set sail on this amazing rollercoaster of After All.
A beautifully written story that will pull you in and tug at your heartstrings.
The chemistry Bowie and Brooklyn had blow me away. They pretend to hate each other one minute but then the next minute all that changes.
After All has lots of twists and turns and when a long standing secret is revealed where will that leave Bowie, Brooklyn and the relationship they are trying to rebuild.

Definitely one to add to your reading list, you will not be disappointed!
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