Book Review: Result May Vary by Bethany Chase

Results May Vary
Title: Results May Vary
Author: Bethany Chase
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
Format: eARC
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Contemporary

She never saw it coming. Without even a shiver of suspicion to warn her, Caroline Hammond discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man—a revelation that forces her to question their entire history together, from their early days as high school sweethearts through their ten years as a happily married couple. In her now upside-down world, Caroline begins envisioning her life without the relationship that has defined it: the loneliness of being an “I” instead of a “we”; the rekindled yet tenuous closeness with her younger sister; and the unexpected—and potentially disastrous—attraction she can’t get off her mind. Caroline always thought she knew her own love story, but as her husband’s other secrets emerge, she must decide whether that story’s ending will mean forgiving the man she’s loved for half her life, or facing her future without him. 
The first chapter had my heart sinking. As in the premise, the book throws us into the main character's world and we immediately find out that her husband, Adam, has been cheating on her. Not only has he been cheating on her, but he's been unfaithful with another man. This is her high school sweetheart and I thought this sets the reader up for a lot of raw and ripe emotions. And somehow, I thought back to my undergrad psychology classes and was ready for the five stages of grief.

Can we really work through forgiving someone after they've broken the sanctity of marriage? Today it seems to be the norm rather than the exception. But what if, on top of the infidelity, you find out something else that breaks the trust between husband and wife even more? This is exactly how this story plays out. If Caroline, or Caro (to her husband), or Care (to her friends and family), wasn't sure whether she was going to try to make the marriage work, the news she finds out following the affair is enough for her to emphatically decide to move towards breaking it off for good. You never know which way she will decide but this is where I felt the story went awry.

We never see the five stages of grief. We never really get to see why or if Adam and Caroline had anything worth fighting for after ten years. Their story is told in flashback spurts. It all felt a bit rushed to me. As a reader, I never saw Adam as anything but a self-absorbed one-dimensional character. What I did like was the relationship between Caroline and her sister, Ruby, and Caroline's friendship with Jonathan, a friend from college.

Maybe this would have worked better as a short story. It just felt a little draggy to me because Caroline wasn't that interesting of a character. Maybe it was her age, maybe it was where she was in life, or maybe there was just a lack of things to work with (as an author) since this book focuses solely on "what will Caroline decide next?" And again, if she didn't go down a path that felt predictable to me (she immediately starts dating a co-worker that comes with its own set of problems and her sister moves in with her while she is dealing with the aftermath), I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more.

The daily minutiae of her life didn't hold my interest. There was no excitement or adventure, or even a pivotal moment where we see her focus on what really went wrong. Although towards the end of the book, we come to know Adam a little bit more, which helps with understanding how things were destined to play out.

This fell short for me but I don't discourage anyone from reading it. And I'm certainly not discouraged from reading her first book or any other works by Bethany Chase. But this story in particular just didn't jive with me.


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