Then I’d look in [my son’s] eyes where he was all Lia — not just the color and the shape but the sweet defenselessness so present in his watchful stare — and a wave of love would wash over me so strongly, I’d almost have to sit down so I wouldn’t fall. Because despite it all, despite how we started and how we ended, the baby boy in front of me was the product of the unceasing love I’d carried in my heart since I was nine years old.
I love Mia Sheridan’s writing. She is one of the most gifted authors currently writing contemporary romance and each time she releases a new book, I eagerly look forward to it. While nearly all her books have ended up on my favorites list, in the interest of honestly, I will admit that the occasional one just hasn’t worked for me. But that’s to be expected given a large enough pool of books — and she has published eleven!! This book was interesting though for me and I debated whether or not I should review it, but ultimately I decided that I would because even though I did have issues with some of this story, by the end of the book, my heart was filled with satisfaction and happiness so overall, when I looked back on the book as a whole, those feelings were the most important.
“There were two brothers — identical twins — and though I loved them both, my soul belonged to only one.”
Annalia Del Valle has loved Preston Sawyer all her life. The daughter of an impoverished migrant farmworker, she grew up as an outcast in what was no more than a tiny, cooped up shack in California’s Central Valley. But her heart found freedom in the land, in the wide-open spaces of Sawyer Farm, and in the boys who were her only friends.
Preston has yearned for Annalia since he was a boy. But a sense of honor kept him from pursuing her until he’s unable to hold back any longer and their worlds—and bodies—collide one hot summer night. A night that sets off a chain of events that will alter their lives forever.
Now Annalia is back in town after disappearing without a trace for six long months. Determined to reclaim her heart, her life, and the baby she left behind—the son who was created in a moment of lust and love and pent-up yearning…
Let me break things down for you. I loved the beginning of the book. Within the first few pages, the emotional intensity was rolling off the pages and my heart was racing trying to figure the story out. But after setting up the present day, the story jumped backwards to the past and told their story from childhood back to present day and from 5% all the way through to 65%, I genuinely was angry — like properly furious and upset — at the story. I was disappointed with these characters for so many reasons. They were all weak and foolish, making stupid decisions with devastating consequences for all the wrong reasons. There wasn’t even an outside influence to blame their misery on. No, their pain was the direct result of their own idiotic actions (which incidentally is my #1 pet peeve in books) and just to be clear, it’s not ‘angst’ that I have any issue with. I love good angst. But I strongly dislike angst that is solely driven from the poor decisions of the characters and so I very seriously debated putting the book down for good several times. The only reason I didn’t was that this was Mia Sheridan — an author who has written some of my all time forever favorite books, and even one of my rare 6-star books — so I had faith in her as an author to bring their story around to a good place. So I hung in there and kept reading (and hoping). Luckily about two-third of the way through, the story took a decidedly positive turn and despite my deep frustrations, it was genuinely wonderful to see these characters begin to make the right choices and find the happiness they could have had all their lives.
As angry as I had been with them, I was also invested in their story and, given everything they’d put me through, I wanted to see their story through to the happy ending. It certainly took them long enough (like, seriously) but they did finally get themselves to a point where they were able to be open and honest about their feelings and fears, regrets and desires, and hopes for the future. They thankfully reached a point where they communicated openly and trusted each other with their secrets so the silver lining to all of the stupidity in the earlier parts of the book was that the characters did learn from their mistakes which ultimately is all you can ask for. There’s also a scene very near the ending which literally gave me CHILLS!! Without giving anything away, I’ll say that I really appreciate the way the author incorporated this ‘element’ into the story — she did it in such a way where it left it completely up to you as the reader to interpret it however you chose without forcing you to believe anything you didn’t want to accept… but just the suggestion of what she was implying totally gave me shivers and I loved it!!!
Looking back on this story, I almost want to delete the whole middle section and mentally rewrite the reason for their separation as pretty much anything other than what it was. There is also a love triangle element to their past. Any of you who have followed me for a while know that I dislike most love triangles because I find it unendingly frustrating (and not in a good-angsty way) to see a girl continue to be with the wrong guy when it’s not even the guy she wants to be with. And so that part of this book was, again, not my favorite. Not to mention all the other poor decisions that led to even more misery in all of their lives. HOWEVER, if I were to kind of just blur out the story from 5-65%, the rest of the book was amazing!!!! I loved all the healing and heart-breaking longing that they shared. I loved seeing them find their way back to each other. I felt their passion for each other and I desperately wanted for them to find a way to make their little family whole again. The whole final third of their story made my heart racing with happiness and it was genuinely rewarding to see them finally find their way back to each other.
And I’ll say this again, because it really bears repeating, that Mia Sheridan writes beautifully. She really does. And, no matter what, reading her books is always something I look forward to.
“I loved you so fiercely that night. I want you to know that. I know the way things happened after that was mostly awful. But we created that little boy in love. When I look at him, with your eyes and my face, that’s what I think. He’s the beauty that came from the ashes.”
RATING: the story ranged from 2 — 4.5 stars depending on where it was. Generally, I strongly disliked the past story, but really loved the present day parts. And overall, the writing was 5 stars!