Fiction Book Reviews

Romance | To Have or Have Not | Alex McLean

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I love it when a book surprises you and that’s exactly what happened from the first page of To Have or Have Not.  One of my top reads this year.

Book cover for To Have or Not Have by Alex McLean

To Have or Not Have by Alex McLean is available to purchase in digital and paperback formats.

How do you make an impossible choice?

Fifteen years ago, Abi lost Luke to her best friend, Heather. It ended both their friendship and Abi’s future with the love of her life.

Now the couple has come crashing back into Abi’s fragile world. As a struggling single mother, she can’t handle any more complications. Yet despite her better judgment, she and Luke become close again. Then he asks her to persuade his wife to save their crumbling marriage. But Abi is still in love with him, and she can just as easily end it. It seems an easy decision, until she reconciles with Heather and realises that she can’t lose her best friend twice.


This was such a fast read for me.  I was so involved that the passing of time in the real world didn’t even register.

The format is great.  Abi narrates with flashes back to her friendship with Heather and when she first meets Luke.  Until that is, Luke and Heather fall back into her life, and we get some insights from Heather. 

Abi totally captured my heart and I couldn’t believe that anything would change how I felt about the betrayal.  But at some point I stood back to allow myself to see the situation as it was – without all the emotions (yes Abi’s emotions were my own) and allowed myself to acknowledge that sometimes boundaries are fluid and when there is a crisis, we turn to the person who is there to help us to carry the pain.  That it’s possible to make a mistake that impacts on the years that follow.

Abi is such a fabulous lead.  She’s no-nonsense and honest (some might say brutal but you’ve got to say it as it is don’t you).  Despite the challenges she faces continuously, she just gets on with what needs to be done.  That’s not to say she doesn’t wobble but she doesn’t wallow when it would be so easy to have a one-woman pity party.   I liked her ethics and morals and hoped that at some point, fate would give her a break and she would get her happy ever after – although I had no idea what that might look like or what it was I really wished for her (there didn’t seem one solution that wouldn’t leave someone behind).  It certainly wasn’t what happened.  I have to admit, that was a total surprise!  In all the scenarios I played out, that wasn’t one of them …

I’ve enjoyed Alex McLean’s writing style.  I loved the shop analogy! And this short sentence gave me goosebumps:

Love and longing blew gently on my skin.

Because I could feel it too.

To Have or Have Not is so much more than a romance.  I do enjoy a story that explores stereotypes in-depth and this story explores what it’s like to be a woman in a male dominated work environment and the prejudices that are sadly still around today.  The impact that has when you have to put your family first.  And the resultant deprivation.  The things Abi has to experience and the humiliation are heart-breaking.   Don’t get me started on the school events committee …  this is a great reminder of how easy it is to judge others and why we shouldn’t take things at face value. 

Don’t miss this one.  I guarantee it will carry you along too.  Books can be an outlet for emotions and wow, this one holds the ace card.  Highly recommended.

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I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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