Decisions We Make After Midnight (Decisions in Durham Book 1) by Rachel Higginson
Decisions in Durham
Adult, New Adult, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance
September 24, 2021
Lola Ellis has a picture-perfect life. Until she doesn’t.
Successful, engaged to the man of her dreams, and focused. Until suddenly she’s questioning her position in the family company, her fiancé’s fidelity, and everything she thought she knew about life.
On her way to Florida to open a new branch of the family business and meet her fiancé Owen, she unexpectedly detours to visit her best friend in Durham, North Carolina. What was meant to be a week of rest and relaxation as she gets her mind right stretches into a permanent TBD. She can’t face the future waiting for her in Destin, Florida. And the longer she stays in Durham, the less she wants to.
Will English is an uptight, arrogant bartender who keeps scaring away waitresses. Too busy micromanaging his co-owning siblings, his patience is thin when it comes to the rest of the business. When Lola takes a job at his bar to fill her time while she decides what to do about the mess her life has suddenly become, he decides not to engage with the clearly underqualified new waitress. She’s clumsy, clueless, and costing him too much money every time she gives away another round of drinks because she’s messed up again. And yet… there’s something about her that keeps him from dismissing her.
Together, after the bar closes every night, they forge a friendship that doesn’t fit into either of their lives. Lola’s stay in Durham is only temporary. And Will’s roots in the city are deeply established. A relationship doesn’t make sense. But sometime after midnight one night… they decide they don’t care.
“Love is in the cards, or it’s not.”
Rachel Higginson takes us back to Durham, NC for the start of her new series Decisions in Durham with Decisions We Make After Midnight. Lola Ellis, as she neared her 30’s, believed she had her life well-ordered. She and her fiancé, Owen, whom she had been with for six years, were about to merge not only their personal lives but both their family businesses in a Destin, FL. venture. Her status, as second in charge of the Chicago based, multi-million dollar, family owned business, gave her financial security even if afforded her very little personal autonomy. When Lola stumbles upon a devastating truth about Owen and the bottom falls out from not only their relationship but everything in life as she knows it, she decides, while moving from Illinois to Florida, unexpectedly detours to her college best friend, Reese, in Durham. Hiding-out while she tries to figure out her life, Lola takes the first job she finds, working for the three English siblings at their trendy bar, Craft. Will English is insufferable, to put in mildly, but long hours on her feet, learning there is more to alcohol than wine, and late night closings with Will have Lola completely re-imagining her entire life.
“my voice came out hoarse, scorched from a drink that might have just changed my life for the better. I had never known something like this existed before. That something could be so right and so settling and so tempting.”
Told only from Lola’s perspective, Decisions We Make After Midnight is more than just a story about finding real love after settling for a mediocre relationship. It is a journey of discovering one’s self-worth. Of laying out a blue print for life that you pick for yourself, not just going along with the plans that others have for you. Through the many internal, philosophical musings we follow Lola’s progress in coming to terms with Owen and her family and arriving at a place where she finds a new strength and contentment in herself, which allows the unmistakable attraction to Will blossom. An attraction that is as right, settling, and tempting as a good whiskey. Rachel’s talent for intricate and authentic build ups to romantic relationships is evident between Lola and Will, making for a wonderfully compelling and satisfying story.
I’ve always been amazed at the depth of details about the industry used as the backdrop for Rachel’s stories. I was fascinated by her incorporating of the bar workings, various drinks, and her perspective through Will that “a good beer or wine or liquor shouldn’t make you want to guzzle it to forget. It should give you a night you’ll never forget. A night that will stay with you forever, both the feel of it and the taste of it.” Her previous series, The Opposites Attract, which revolved around food and restaurants in the same way, was also set in Durham. As a pleasant surprise, a number of the couples from that series make cameo appearances in Decisions We Make After Midnight. I’m already looking forward to the second book in Decisions in Durham coming out May of 2022, Secrets We Whisper in the Moonlight.
Tanya’s love for books has been a lifelong passion that she likes sharing with others. Reading is also the thing that relaxes her after a day of juggling the many responsibilities that come with being being wife to an amazing man, mother to four great kids spread around the world, business manager, and farm hand on their place in southwest Missouri; home to Akaushi cattle and a menagerie of pygmy goats, horses, chickens, dogs and cats.