Book Review: This Could Be Us by Kennedy Ryan

I loved This Could Be Us by Kennedy Ryan, which is the second book in her Skyland series following Before I Let Go. If you read Before I Let Go, then you should be familiar with This Could Be Us’s lead, Soledad. She’s a mom of three daughters, married to Edward Barnes, and is Puerto Rican. Her marriage to Edward is rocky at best, where he’s seemingly distant, causing Soledad to wonder whether there’s something she is or isn’t doing right and what she can do to try and save her marriage. All of that goes out the window when Edward ends up getting arrested for embezzlement, which leads to an FBI raid as they look for anything that could point them in the direction of the stolen money. Obviously scarred and feeling betrayed, Soledad realizes Edward isn’t the man she married and his selfish choices put her and her daughters into the fire – how will she survive without everyone getting burned?

The story’s main focus is on Soledad and her journey through self-partnering. She’s determined to find herself and learn how to love herself fully. In this journey, she intentionally dated herself and focused on getting back to the things that made her feel most like herself. In that, she became a social media influencer, focusing on home hacks, cooking, and DIYs – all things she enjoyed – to help her stay afloat financially. I find her journey of self-partnering inspiring and is something anyone can do at any phase in their lives. Understanding how to love yourself and learning to be alone is crucial to figuring out how to incorporate external love, whether its platonic or romantic, into your life. To help her get there, Soledad reads All About Love by bell hooks, her copy annotated by her mom, which gave her insight into where she was in her journey but also on her mother and how even in spirit, she was guiding her.

While the story is focused on Soledad finding herself, this is still a romance novel and there was still room for romantic love. Judah Cross, the accountant that helped put her ex-husband in jail, becomes Soledad’s love interest. After a very casual first meeting at the company Christmas party, their chemistry was undeniable – but Soledad was still married. As they continued to cross paths after Edward’s arrest and Soledad’s divorce, the chemistry persisted, where with time, they decided to explore what could be. Judah is a very patient man and knew that he wanted Soledad but understood the phase of her life that she was currently in. He was vocal and communicative with her the entire time; expressing his desire to get to know her and ultimately be with her while acknowledging that she needs to work on herself on her own. Which honestly, hot, but not shocking that Kennedy Ryan knows how to write good men.

A very big part of Judah’s story was his sons and his relationship with his ex-wife. They successfully co-parent their teen twin sons, both of which are autistic. Kennedy takes great care to explore this throughout the story, as she has personal experience in parenting a child with autism. For Judah, his sons will always come first; something he was adamant to express to Soledad which she understood and supported.

I do think that in Soledad’s journey of self love, she ended up realizing that she needed romantic love. While yes, self love in itself is whole, for her, she needed that external love to enforce her own self love. What I mean by this is that she thought she was loved when she was married to Edward and that left a gap inside her heart. In embarking in this self love journey, she sought to fill that gap herself, which she did, but that facet of being loved by someone she trusted and also loved was still missing. She was rightfully scared to explore this with Judah, out of fear of getting hurt, but she realized she needed it too. I don’t think self love is fulfilling enough. I also don’t believe in the notion that you need to fully love yourself to deserve and accept external love – I believe there’s room for both at the same time. As social creatures, we also need external love – platonic, romantic, etc. She had her village love made up of her daughters, her sisters, and her friends Yasmen and Hendrix, but that facet of romantic love, which she closed off after Edward’s betrayal, wanted to remain open and ended up being opened and filled by Judah.

All in all, This Could Be Us was a fantastic read. I managed to read 2/3 of the book in one sitting as the story continued to develop and got interesting. I loved how Soledad picked herself up and showed her daughters that she’s capable of taking care of them and herself without the need of their father or his money. The only thing Edward has is the audacity – which honestly, is most men in some of these books (and in real life). Soledad and Judah’s love story is a picture of patience, persistence, and individual growth that anyone could aspire to. Easily five stars.

See my review for Before I Let Go here!

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