Henry Miller-Greene just barely manages to make it out of the wreckage of his downed plane. That, however, is small comfort when he “escapes” to the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Even with an island within sight, reaching its sandy shores isn’t a golden ticket to safety. With Henry’s vocation in marine biology, though, there might be a fighting chance. He has the support of two other able-bodied adults who help the survival effort and a rescued toddler who helps keep the adults grounded.
Henry’s husband, Sam Miller-Greene, is beside himself with grief. When the news hits, nothing makes sense. What’s worse is that there’s nothing to indicate what befell the plane—the coordinates where the vessel last made communication are void of any traces. Even worse, the seventy-odd mile search radius is equally barren. Still, for Sam, where there is no closure, there can still be hope. Time interminably passes with no more leads, no clues, trying to whittle away at Sam’s ever diminishing sliver of hope that his husband might be alive.
How long can a man hold onto vanishing hope? A year? Two? Ten? ’Till death? Part of Sam wants to wait forever. It’s a part of him that equates no news with hope that somehow, some way, Henry is still alive. Except…except for that old promise Henry and Sam made to each other: Promise that you’ll find a way to be happy again if I die. Promise you’ll move on, find love, remarry, don’t be alone. Promise.
I haven’t turned pages so damn hard since Stanford shot Griffin and Alec chose Seregil!!
On one hand, I don’t want to give anything away. On the other, the three-page prologue and the book’s blurb set everything up so you can’t help but roll up your sleeves and enjoy the angst fest. ‘Til Death Do Us Part weaves a riveting story about Sam, Henry, and Nash. From the very start, we know Sam has presumed Henry dead and that Sam has moved on. Just like we also know that Henry did not actually die, but has been marooned on a remote island.
In just a few scant pages, all my expectations were wonderfully shaped. The prologue raised all the questions I’d then get to agonize over for 200-odd pages: How does Henry manage to survive? How do they find out Henry and the others survivors? How does Sam manage to move on? What will happen to Sam’s new fiancé, Nash? All those questions stemmed from the prologue. It was the best way to start this kind of book ever. Seriously, it summarized all the conundrums and all I had to do was enjoy watching it all unfold.
Another big bonus for the book is how despite starting with the climax of discovering that the long-lost husband isn’t actually dead from a plane crash, the angst-fest erupts within Sam when he gets the news. Through Sam, the reader contemplates the human capacity for love and does so in a delightfully heart-wrenching way. It took Sam years to make peace with the loss of his husband and he finally takes that step to make a romantic connection to Nash and, eventually, fall in love with him. All the while, Sam thinks he’s doing Henry a solid. So when the truth is revealed that Henry’s alive, there’s more than just “go get your man, Sam!” Because he already has another man. I loved seeing Sam struggle to come to terms with this—he’s engaged to be married when he husband suddenly turns up. No one really assumes everything will just revert back to what it was like before the crash, but neither does anyone know what will happen with either relationship.
Albright raises some tantalizing points. Would Sam still want Henry? The story shows us small but poignant glimpses into Sam’s grieving process and he’s finally figured out how to move on. There’s also Sam’s fear that Henry has fallen out of love with him. Even if Henry still loved Sam, would he really have the right to fight Sam’s fiancé? If nothing else, it’s clear that Sam has fallen in love again—just like Henry wanted. I loved watching each character grapple with these humungous moral dilemmas.
My one and only gripe (and the other .25 points) stems from the hurried feeling I got with the resolution on the worst (read: best) love triangle in the history of love triangles. Sam’s choice was one of the big, shiny Angst Things I was dreading/dying to read about. When we finally get down to brass tacks about whether Sam will chose Henry, Nash, or no one, it just seemed like a lot of the action happened off page. Although we didn’t get knock-em-down, rip-your-heart-out fights about commitments and betrayals and shou-ga-nai (Japanese for, in this case, “it is what it is”), the delicious bits we DID get to read, however, rang true to how I’d imagine they’d go in reality. I just wish there had been more on-page for me to read and stew in this relationship cluster-fluff.
That said, I still rate this book super-duper high. It’s an exciting book filled with angst. The tension starts at 11 and pretty much stays there until the very end. It’s also well paced. I felt like we spent most of our time with Henry in the present, but nearly every chapter starts off with a little flashback from Henry and Sam’s past. We get sweet little glimpses into their courtship/married life that left me rooting for team Samry. We watched a tragic Sam work through the grief process at major milestones and felt good that he wasn’t a wreck and deliciously bad because he didn’t know Henry wasn’t actually dead.
I recommend this book to everyone! Especially if you’re an angst fiend and love a long, slow burn of a veritable smorgasbord of will-he-or-won’t-he (be it all the survivors surviving, Sam making a choice, Sam making the same choice the reader would, who ends up with that KID?!).