Review: ‘The Problem With Heartache’ by Lauren K. McKellar

The Problem With Heartache

The problem with heartache is that there’s no one-size-fits-all relief package. You can go to classes; you can try to embrace change. But when you wake up at two in the morning, a smile on your face because you’ve dreamt about the could have—the should have—nothing will console you.

Because seconds later, you remember.

And remembering can rip you apart.

Kate will do anything for her family. It’s why she took the job with Lee. It’s why she’s attempting to forget her pain. But it’s hard to forget, when you’re desperate to hold on. Even if Lee Collins is the perfect package.

Lee will do anything for the ones he cares about. It’s why he hired Kate.

It’s why he keeps his secrets; and it’s why he cannot, will not fall in love. Not with Kate—not with anyone.


Note that this review by default contains some spoilers for The Problem With Crazy. If you haven’t read that heartbreaking story yet, go. Buy it and a box of tissues, and come back to me later.

I’ve been hanging out for this book since I read the first in the Crazy in Love series, The Problem With Crazy, which was one of my favourite 2014 reads. (You can read my review of that here.) The second book in the series, Eleven Weeks, covers the same period of time as the first, but looks at what Stacey, one of the supporting characters from the first book, is going through.

In Heartache, we finally get back to Kate, our leading lady from the first book. It’s six months after the tragic events in the first book, and Kate is still overwhelmed by the pain of Lachlan’s death. When Lee-freaking-Collins, lead singer of Coal, offers her a job in a clear attempt to bypass her “no charity” rule and help her ill father, she finds she grows increasingly attracted to him. But she doesn’t want to be, because she feels like she’s being unfaithful to Lachlan, or that she’ll lose him all over again if she lets his memory go. Poor girl. I wanted to make her a hot chocolate and give her the biggest hug.

Then there’s Lee, whose story is the main focus of Heartache. Ah, Lee. I liked him, I wanted to punch him in the nose, I wanted to throw him down on the bed and — um, never mind. He’s got a whopper of a dark secret in his past, and his own fair share of tragedy, and he’s decided as a result that he doesn’t deserve love and can’t have a relationship. I alternated between feeling bad for him and wanting him to stop being so damn melodramatic about everything. I’m so mean! :p

But still, Lee isn’t a typical bad boy. He’s actually a genuinely nice person who, when he’s not feeling guilty about his past, is a caring employer and family man. He’s also protective, which can result in some bad rockstar behaviour, but I forgave him for that.

My favourite thing about Heartache, far and away, is the storytelling. It’s dual point-of-view, and the voice was so clear for Kate (Aussie female) and Lee (American male) that it was easy to tell whose chapter we were in at any given time. Lee’s chapters often contained a flashback as well as some present-day narration, which slowly let us see the events in his past. Also, McKellar makes very cute use of letter-writing; Kate and Lee write to each other throughout the story, and are often able to tell each other things on paper that they never would be able to face to face.

One supporting character I was very ambivalent about was Lottie, Coal‘s stylist and mother of super-cute preschooler Jay. There was something off about her for me. But I’m pleased to say that it all made sense by the end.

I stayed up way past my bedtime, bingeing on the second half of Heartache; it’s definitely worth your time and the lack of sleep to do the same!

Four-and-a-half stars

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