REVIEW: What He Never Knew by Kandi Steiner

by - 12:00 PM

“If I could survive last night, I could survive anything.”

Back of the book blurb:

I never learn my lesson.

  And I always want what I can’t have.

  When Sarah Henderson walks into my life, I tell myself she’s off limits. She’s my student, sixteen years younger than me, and my boss’s niece. It doesn’t matter that I see the same pain reflected in her eyes that I have in my own, or that the dead organ better known as my heart kicks to life when she’s around.

  I’ve been here before, and I know how this ends.

  It’s been two years since I fell for the last woman I knew I couldn’t have, the one with the ring on her finger that I chose to ignore.

  Two years of trying to overcome that heartache when Sarah slides into my life.

  Another woman I can’t have. Another woman I can’t stop myself from wanting.

  I never learn my lesson, but with a constant reminder of how that last forbidden love burned, I think I’ve finally learned this one.

  This time, I won’t chase what’s off limits.

  This time, I’m staying away.

  And I’ll keep telling myself that until I believe it.

Chase’s thoughts:

Publication Date: February 21, 2019

Available for Purchase (Pre-Order until 2/21):

My rating:

            This might have a couple spoilers if you haven’t read the first two books, What He Doesn’t Know and What He Always Knew. Thank you to Kandi Steiner and Social Butterfly PR for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A year ago around this time, we were all discussing the first book in Kandi’s new duet, What He Doesn’t Know. That resulted in a huge outcry whether you were #TeamReese or #TeamCameron. The worst part? No one was even upset about which team you were on because we all empathized with each other. Kandi had turned the love triangle trope into something magical and, well, relatable. Never would I have thought I’d be rooting for the cheater, let alone by the end of the duet, rooting for Cameron and Charlie to reconcile.

I was so so so excited when Kandi finally decided to release a third novel in the series and guess who it was about?! REESE WALKER. We all fell in love with him (at least a little bit) in the duet and now we are able to finally witness his happily ever after because, truly, he deserves one.

What He Never Knew is Kandi’s most poignant, raw, and absolutely, devastatingly, heartbreakingly romantic novel to date and has firmly cemented its place right next to Weightless as my favorite Kandi novel. (Because, let’s be honest, nothing can ever actually beat Weightless.)

“I was the girl who cried wolf. But I vowed to myself that I would not be the girl who let the wolf in.”

            My favorite thing about Kandi Steiner novels is that she is literally never afraid to handle really dark and deep conflict. A lot of authors are worried about going too deep or into dangerous waters; however, that’s never been Kandi’s problem and that is why I respect her as a writer so much. The topics she writes about might be difficult, but she always, always handles them with respect and elegance.

            What He Never Knew handles so many complex and dark topics. Like I said before, this is one of Kandi’s most poignant novels to date. Do not take that lightly. The Wrong Game, Kandi’s most recent novel to this one, was definitely on the lighter side. What He Never Knew is about fifty shades darker than that and then some.

            All that means, though, is that the light at the end of the (very) dark tunnel is so much sweeter because the reader has to work for it and that is one of my all time favorite things. I love when authors torture their readers to the point where the reader isn’t even sure that it will ever get better. But, trust me, it does and you will come out of What He Never Knew a better person for it.

“But he wasn’t the first one who didn’t believe in me. And he wouldn’t be the first one I proved wrong.”

            It’s interesting to note that following indie authors tends to destroy the barrier between reader and author. It might just be because I’ve followed Kandi for so long now that she feels like one of my best friends (seriously, though, Kandi, let’s be besties forever). If you’re a part of Kandi’s reader group, she shares so much of her life there—more than any author’s group that I’m a part of. And clearly, that’s their prerogative to share as much or as little as they want.

            My point of all of this is that I really enjoy the aspect of Kandi’s writing that comes from her personal life. You can almost chart where her life is at or how she’s feeling by the book that she is publishing. Clearly, there will be outliers; however, I just love that Kandi does share so much of herself on her social media because it adds so much more personality to her writing.

            All throughout What He Never Knew, I could literally feel Kandi’s own heartbreak as if it were my own and that is truly something special and I respect Kandi so much more for letting her readers see such a vulnerable side of her, virtually all the time. It makes her a stronger person and a stronger writer for it. And it definitely pays off because What He Never Knew is truly a masterpiece.

“Where she stood now under the porch light, I saw the remnants of dried tears on her cheeks.”
“I think I’m ready to play the song.”

            I remember the first time I read Weightless and I was just completely blown away about how vivid Kandi’s writing was (and still is). The way she writes is always so beautiful and more importantly, it’s so clear in my head, at all times, what’s happening. This happened tenfold during What He Never Knew. Every scene was colorful and in such vivid detail that it felt like a movie in my head. The scene that features the quote above is what really sticks out. I can just picture where they’re at, I can feel the weather outside, I can see Sarah sitting there, head on her knees. I can see Reese walking up to her. I can see and hear and smell and touch everything in that scene.

            It’s pretty freakin’ magical.

            Look, all I’m saying is that What He Never Knew instantly shot to the top of my list for favorite books the minute I finished it and it will remain up there for the rest of time, I can assure you that.

            If you haven’t read the original duet, I suggest you do that first and then pick up What He Never Knew. I’m a better person for it and you will be, too.

Happy Reading!

The Wandereader

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