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Joely Shupe and her sister Kate are both looking for happiness, but is happiness always what we have imagined it would be?

Joely fell in love with Jake Mahoney in their college years. They’d become engaged, but when he had found out that her mother had Lupus he’d said he didn’t want to have kids, so Joely had called off the wedding.

Six years ago he came back into her life at a time when she was vulnerable. She had just been diagnosed with Lupus and she had been told that the treatment would probably leave her infertile. Jakes affection had provided a jolt of endorphins right when she had needed it. Jake was married at the time, and deep inside she had known the affair was wrong.  Yet out of her mistake had come her beautiful daughter.

When she discovered she was pregnant, Jake had become suddenly devoted to his wife again, leaving Joely on her own; pregnant, broke and struggling with her illness.

Joely moved in with her sister Kate and Kate’s husband, Mitch.  Her daughter Anna is five years old now.  Uncle Mitch fills in as her father, but Anna wonders more and more about her real father.

Then one day Jake shows up, wanting to be a part of Anna’s life; wanting to assume his role as father. Joely is furious. How dare he think he can just drop into her life when she is five years old, fill her with promises and dreams and then in typical selfish, irresponsible Jake fashion most likely disappear, leaving Anna broken hearted and Joely to clean up the mess.  She tells him NO, on no uncertain terms.  He reminds her that as Anna’s father he has rights.

Reluctantly she lets Anna meet her father.  Anna is thrilled, soaking up his love and affection like a sponge.  She is so excited about having a dad like the other kids and he showers her with gifts and attention.  Joely waits for his true colors to show, fearful for her small daughter’s heart.

In the meanwhile, Dalton Taylor has come into Joely’s life. He’s divorced, a single father, a gentleman, respectful, considerate, someone she can count on; in short exactly the kind of man who fits into her definition of happiness. He loves her and asks her to move in with him. Is this the picture of happiness that she has dreamed of?

Kate and Mitch are trying to secure the missing pieces in the puzzle of their picture of happiness too.  Kate is a counsellor. She has blithely followed her career path, but suddenly she is 40 and now, when she desperately wants to get pregnant, it isn’t happening. Has she waited too long?

Kate and Mitch have been trying to conceive using IVF. Hormone shots, mood swings and failed IVF’s have taken their toll on both of them.  Mitch really wants a family, but he does not want to go any farther along this futile route. Will Kate`s unrelenting stance tear them apart?  IVF is costly and their savings are drained. When he suggests alternatives she refuses to consider them; adoption, egg donor.  No–she wants to carry a child with her own DNA. She wants to keep trying IVF.

Is happiness really the picture that either Joely or Kate have painted into their dreams about their lives…or is it something less defined, more flexible? Will they recognise it?

I enjoyed What Happiness Looks Like and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a heartfelt romantic read with quite a few twists and turns. This book is woven around several different people and circumstances; all ultimately relating back to either Joely or Kate.  I found myself in sympathy with and rooting for all the main characters in this book, wanting them to find their happiness.

you can find Karen Lenfestey at