Unlike some authors, I don’t think Louise Jensen has made any secret of the fact that she has a writing alter ego. I do understand why authors adopt different personas. If you want to write in a different genre, there’s a possibility you’ll disappoint your readership if they come looking for a romcom and discover a gothic horror. Nevertheless, Louise has been very upfront about it on social media, and rightly so. To be fair, she hasn’t made such a big genre-shift, but it is a shift nonetheless. Having made her name with psychological thrillers, The Life We Almost Had is a romance. Well, kind of.

Regular readers may have picked up on the fact that I know Louise. I met her shortly before her first book, The Sister, was published. Since then, we’ve met up on several occasions, most of them arranged in advance. An exception to that was when she turned up at the Harrogate Crime Festival last year. We bumped into each other and settled down in the bar for a chat (who wouldn’t?). That was when I learnt about Amelia Henley. Not that she told me anything about the story – just that it was something a bit different.

A bit different seems to have been the theme of all of the reviews I’ve seen from book bloggers. And they, too, have done the right thing by not giving the game away.

Romance isn’t really my thing – as my partner will cheerfully attest! Still, I’ve been known to read the occasional romance, usually to support authors I know, but also to ensure I don’t get too stuck in my reading habits. As an author, you can learn from all genres, regardless of your own preferences. Even so, I was torn about reading this one. I knew romance was something Louise wanted to write more of, but (in keeping with the reason for authors using pseudonyms) I’d fallen into the trap of thinking of her as a thriller writer and didn’t want my expectations messing with.

Then I started reading the reviews. And they were intriguing. And you know what you have to do when you’re intrigued…

So what can I say about it? Certainly not a lot about the plot. It’d be too easy to include spoilers. What I will say is this. It is a romance, but it’s something else as well, which is hard to slot into any genre. And that’s not a bad thing, not by a long chalk. What Louise has done is bring something very different to the game.

Her experience writing thrillers means you rarely reach the end of a chapter without having more questions. She leads you up the garden path several times – or possibly up several garden paths.

And she also does what she’s always done: she gets you to care for the characters. You invest in them, certainly enough to feel a range of emotions as you follow their stories. I won’t deny that I felt my own getting the better of me as we reached the end – and, yes, that does mean tears were involved.

If you want a story with a difference (not a romance, not a thriller, not anything that neatly slots into a category), one that will broaden your reading experiences, read this. And see whether you cry too.

To get your copy or to find out more about the book, you can click on the cover image below for a link to the Amazon eBook. If you prefer a paperback, please try to support your local independent book shop rather than the supermarkets (lockdown is over soon, so you can wait a bit). Alternatively, if you don’t have a book shop nearby and/or you prefer to buy online, try Hive. I’ve written about them here, if you want to understand how using them can support Indies.