I was graciously provided an e-arc by the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Title: What He Never Knew (What He Doesn’t Know #3)
Author: Kandi Steiner
This review contains spoilers for the first 2 books in the series!
This picked up immediately where What He Always Knew left off. Reese is still broken over the loss of Charlie but finally knows it’s time to let go. When his boss’s niece, Sarah, comes to Pennsylvania to work with him on piano, there is an immediate connection. But he knows she is off limits – not only is she his student, but she is 16 years younger than him. But the more time they spend together, the harder it is to fight the draw to each other.
Content warnings: Sexual Assault, Depression.
This is told in alternating perspectives from Reese and Sarah. It is dark, intense, angsty, and really beautiful. Be prepared for an emotional ride with this one.
What I Liked
- Just like in the previous two books, Kandi’s characters are so raw and complex. They are extremely flawed with dark pasts, but I immediately connected with them. And while I have never experienced any of the things they had gone through, they still felt so relatable.
- I loved the relationship that Sarah had with her mother. Her mother supported her and was always there when needed, but still gave her space to grieve and breath. It was such a wonderful representation of a healthy mother/daughter relationship. I dream of being this type of mother one day.
- In the ebook, there were links to Spotify so you could listen to the songs that the characters were playing/listening to. This was so unique and I loved it! It just added another layer to the story and made each scene come to life.
- Sarah’s story was handled with such respect. Sarah is a biracial pianist who was assaulted by her college piano professor. She had such a difficult past, but her character still had such personality, grace, and strength. I really appreciated that her character was so much more than her struggles.
- I loved how this touched the difficulties women face while chasing lofty goals. Sarah’s professor kept telling her she would sleep her way to the top, and those words stuck with her. As they did for me. I love when authors take on relevant, difficult topics like this, and Steiner handled it wonderfully.
What I Didn’t Like
- There is quite a large age gap between the 2 main characters – Sarah is 21 where as Reese is 37. But they are both mature, consenting adults. However, they way the side characters talked about Sarah irked me to no end. I understand that 21 is young, but the way they referred to her as ‘kid’ felt so demeaning. And as people discovered their relationship and berated Reese for ‘taking advantage of someone so young’, I wanted to scream.
- This did have the ultra common, romance trope of ‘conflict created due to lack of communication’. Which I don’t love. However! This one did have clarification as to why Sarah didn’t communicate so it wasn’t nearly as frustrating.
This was an absolutely beautiful sequel to one of my favorite angsty romance series of all time. If you haven’t checked out this series, do yourself a favor and pick it up immediately!