Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
I feel a bit sad. The potential with this book was pretty high, it's just that Belden ended up having a main character who wasn't that likable and also the romance felt forced.
"Husband Material" follows 29 year old Charlotte Rosen. A New York transplant, Charlotte initially worked in a different field than what she does now. Charlotte works for a social media influencer firm (yeah that's a thing now I guess) and relies on hits/hashtags/numbers to show her whether a client has a certified hit or not. After returning home early one evening, Charlotte is surprised to find her late husband's ashes (Decker) waiting for her. Receiving the ashes throws Charlotte into a tailspin. She hasn't really gotten over losing Decker 5 years ago and finds herself dealing with her ex-in law and also her husband's best friend, Brian.
I loved the idea of Charlotte having the ability to figure out whether a guy was going to work with her or not based on her research into their online lives. And the first scene with the blind date at the wedding was hilarious. After that the book just swan dives into messiness and I ended up wanting to smother Charlotte. Belden does incorporate some scenes in this book so you can see how well Decker and Charlotte got along and how much they loved each other. I just think there should have been more. Decker literally haunts most of the book. When a secret is divulged I rolled my freaking eyes because it made zero sense to introduce this except as a way for poor Charlotte to overcome something else.
Charlotte's character bugged me mostly though because once she meets Brian again, she turns into needing his help every five minutes and she only wants help because she's hoping for it to turn into something romantic. I don't know. It just baffled me as I was reading. Though Charlotte pretends like she doesn't need help from her coworkers or her roommate. It just bugged the life out of me because most of the book is her being disappointed if he can't do something right away or her thinking she knows him. There is zero chemistry between these two and I think that Belden would have been better off just having Charlotte realize she wasn't ready to move on from her husband yet.
The other characters don't have much to do. Belden introduces the ex in-law who is nasty, but I actually felt for this character and we have Charlotte's periodic phone calls home to her mother along with the long suffering roommate. Brian sucked full stop once readers are informed about something and I had a hard time even believing the HEA that the book pushes on us.
The writing actually started off pretty good. The first scene at the wedding was hilarious, but after that the book seems to get into a pretty bad flow of Charlotte just sitting around waiting on Brian. I think the plot point of what to do with Decker's ashes wasn't enough to hold this book together. When a secret is revealed the book danced even further into absurdity. I think that the plot could have just been Charlotte coming to real terms with being a widow and going to grief groups and meeting other women out there in a similar situation, full stop.
The ending was a letdown to me. I didn't buy the romance especially after what Charlotte found out. I honestly thought including the secret turned this book into a literary version of the movie, "Catch and Release" starring Jennifer Garner too.