- Buy Book #1 – THE OPPORTUNIST (Kindle)
- Buy Book #2 – DIRTY RED (Kindle) – read my review
- Buy Book #3 – THIEF (Kindle) – read my review
“You can only give your heart away once; after that, everything else will chase your first love.”
What a beautiful, broken mess.
The Opportunist was both a breath of fresh air and a sucker punch to the gut.
I loved every single word and yet few books have ever made me so incredibly frustrated. It was a phenomenally well-crafted, multilayered story about complex, flawed characters. It owned me. It made me want to scream and cry. It made me feel. It was devastating, heart-breaking and yet utterly addictive. It was honestly one of the best books I have ever read. It grabbed a hold of my heart and didn’t let go.
But… before the actual review, you should know that as a reader I like functional couples. Separation makes me twitchy, cheating makes me queasy, and miscommunication makes me want to breathe into a paper bag. So… having heard about this book, I was scared out of my ever-loving mind, terrified even, to start it because it pretty much has every single thing in it that I usually dislike. I was seriously worried that I would flat-out, no holds bared hate it.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. I loved it.
That being said, on more than one occasion I came dangerously close to dashing my Kindle against the wall in frustration and watching it shatter along with my heart but… *holds up one finger* … the story was so well written and the characters were so compelling that I couldn’t help but fall in love with it.
Tarryn Fisher is a master of words and a genius at manipulating the emotions of her readers. Reading this book is like watching a train wreck – you know what’s coming and but you’re absolutely unable to look away.
Ok. Where to start?
“I am Olivia Kaspen, and if I love something I rip it from my life. Not intentionally… not unintentionally either.”
This story follows Olivia. This girl is just full of the most intense tangle of self-doubt and lack of self-worth imaginable. In college she fell in love with a boy and we’re talking head over heels, once-in-a-lifetime love. But she was unable to admit it and the power he had over her heart terrified her so even though it went against everything she wanted deep down, she walked away.
Three years later, she finds out that Caleb, the man she still loves and who still owns her heart, has lost his memory in an accident and she sees this as the perfect opportunity to try and start over. This could be her redo, a chance to wash away the mistakes of the past.
But nothing is ever that simple. He has a life that he’s built since she left and a girlfriend now too, Leah, who is determined not to lose the man she now loves. He may not remember his life but it’s there looming over them and Olivia is racing against time trying desperately to rebuild what they’d lost knowing that at any minute, he could remember everything.
“After three long years, I have what I want and it isn’t real. He doesn’t know who I am, and if he did, he wouldn’t be sitting in my living room… He doesn’t remember me. How could you forget someone you loved even if I did rip his heart to shreds?”
The story is told almost completely from Olivia’s point of view in a mixture of both present day scenes and flashbacks to when they first met so we got to see both their interactions now as well as the build up to the tangled mess they were in before his accident.
They’d met in college. He was the jock who had girls flocking to him left, right and center and she was the girl with no intention of becoming another notch on his bedpost.
“I certainly didn’t care what effect he had on the females on campus. Caleb Drake meant nothing to me. He would never mean anything to me. I was un-shmoozable. The end.”
She was so sure she had him pegged and yet at every step, this relentless, gorgeous boy seemed one step ahead of her…
“Do you take compliments?” he asked…
“If they’re original.”
He snickered and rolled his eyes.
“Okay, okay,” he said. He was trying not to laugh… “Do you want the jock to compliment you or the guy who reads Great Expectations.”
I couldn’t help but root for them. I wanted them to work it out and knowing that things between them had fallen apart in the future made everything that much more painful. I don’t want to say more about the story for now but just know that it kept me riveted right up until the end. Absolutely unputdownable.
Tarryn Fisher’s writing is just phenomenal. This is such a well-crafted book. I honestly would have enjoyed reading it just for the writing alone regardless of how the story turned out. The wording, the flow of the story, it was just totally captivating and absorbing. By the end of the first page, my heart was 100% invested in the story. It drew me in, grabbed hold and didn’t let go.
With the way it’s written, you are right in Olivia’s head experiencing every thought and emotional right along side her. I really loved her character and while I wouldn’t have done the same things she did, I could also totally understand why she did them.
I felt terrible for her. At times, I just wanted to shake her and at others, I just wanted to hug her because I could tell that what was going on with her was almost out of her control. The issues left over by her past had a deep hold on her and despite what she wanted, no matter how desperately she wanted it, it was like she couldn’t help but bring the pain onto herself by shutting out what she wanted most.
“I was a relationship retard. I kicked, shoved, and punched people out of my life, so they never had a chance to hurt me.”
And it didn’t help that, as swoony as Caleb was, he pushed her too far at times and crossed too many lines. Given how difficult being in a relationship was for her in the first place, I could totally understand why she reacted the way she did even though I could also understand his frustration with how much she kept holding back.
I felt bad for her because in many ways, she was her own worst enemy and brought more pain on herself than anyone else did. It was tragic and heart breaking to see how little self-worth she had. It was like she had a self-destruct button that was constantly being pushed. But I didn’t view her as being as bad a person as she thought she was. She was just a flawed, damaged, woman who wanted the man she was in love with with every fiber of her heart and soul but just had no understanding about how to handle her feelings or go about healthily getting what she wanted.
“It’s the same guilt fame I’ve been playing all along, to be near Caleb regardless of the circumstances or cost. Caleb, Caleb, Caleb.”
She was just so locked inside herself. I could see her struggling with her emotions. She was feeling them so strongly but on the inside only and she just couldn’t make the leap to communicate them to him because of how much she feared the power that Celeb had over her heart.
“He watches my face in fascination. He’s looking for a reaction, but my reaction is all on the inside where he can’t see it… where I am hiding it.”
Ok, now I just need take a moment to scream that I LOVE CALEB DRAKE!!!!!!!!! Omg. I love him with a serious intensity. Ok, I hate him a teensy tiny bit too, but that’s all part of the fun. Protective, spontaneous, intelligent, and caring, he just made me melt. He was flawed, to be sure, that man was not perfect but still… my heart bled for him because he was just caught in the middle of this tumultuous storm of emotions and lies when all he wanted was the love a girl who just didn’t know how to love him back in a way that showed.
“You’re a good guy, Caleb Drake.”
“A man is only as good as what he loves most, right? I flinched.
Hopefully, that wasn’t true. I was about as rotten as a month old egg.
But like I said, I was also frustrated with him because he didn’t know how to be with her either. He pushed her too far at times instead of giving her the safety net she needed but on the flip side, he was nearly endlessly patient with her in certain other respects. But I think what angered me the most was how in the end, the reason she ended up walking away was in reaction to something he did and he couldn’t see that. It frustrated me to no end. He was utterly oblivious to how much his actions devastated her.
“You will remember me every day for the rest of your life because I was the one and you threw me away.”
This book perfectly captures the feeling of first love – and I don’t mean the starry rainbows and butterflies of the beginning of a relationship, I mean the soul-deep, rooted-in-your-heart depths of first love… the kind that can’t be diminished even years of heart ache, betrayals and devastation. The kind you don’t forget and can never replace.
These characters are just so deeply flawed but with the way the story is written, you can see why they did what they did. I felt like even things that I’d normally hate to read about in other books, I was okay with here because of how much I could understand where each character was coming from.
So now… about Leah. I didn’t actually hate her outright. I tried to be understanding of her because it wasn’t as though she’d come on scene when Caleb and Olivia were a couple. She arrived afterwards and fallen in love with a man who could never love her back the way she loved him because he would be forever in love with someone else. No claim she could lay on him – no jewelry or vows – would ever buy the piece of his heart that belonged to Olivia. And that was actually kind of tragic to me so at first, I tried to be understanding. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I hated what she represented which was someone that stood in the way of the happily-ever-after of the couple I was rooting for and I hated things she did. But, when I tried to look at things from her perspective, yes, many of her actions were extreme bordering on unhinged but… I kind of understood her too. That didn’t mean I agreed with her or her actions because I didn’t but I still just tried to “get” where she was coming from.
She just wanted Caleb. Was that a crime? In romance-novel-world, sure, yes it is. But I can’t really fault her for wanting to fight for him even though I wished she’d just vanish off the face of the earth. It was actually something else that happened in the story later that made me despise her because it showed another side to her that just made me ill.
The book wasn’t quite as angsty as I expected at first and so here I was, totally wrapped up in the story, thinking I had a good handle on where things were going when the 70% mark hit and HOLY TWIST!! Oh. my. God. Shivers went straight up through me – neck to toes. I teared up. Couldn’t breathe. Woah!!! And from that point on it really built. This is where the train-wreck analogy comes in because I knew how it would end but I could not look away.
The ending gutted me. It was a quiet pain. No sudden twist or startling conclusion but just the realization of an inevitability that had been building that was full of absolute, heart-wrenching pain. I wouldn’t actually call it a cliffhanger because it didn’t leave you hanging… it just didn’t end with the characters where you wanted them. Not at all. Thankfully though there are two more books in the series and so the story isn’t over yet.
But you know one of the other things I loved about this book was that it was ballsy. It went where few romance novels ever go. It crossed all sorts of lines most romance novels never cross and unapologetically trampled over every bit of my heart. But it made me feel. I loved that.
To any readers out there who haven’t yet read this and are on the fence, I say go for it!!!! Just be tolerant. The whole story is a giant mess. Expect that. Just ride it out and enjoy the craziness!
Like I said above, this is one of the best books I’ve read. I swear, more than half my book is highlighted. The writing is just gold. Absolutely phenomenal. It’s captivating, heart breaking, and devastating at times and the characters are deeply flawed but… I still have hope.
I’m holding out for love to win… It has to.
Casting – honestly, I’m too wrapped up in this story to stop and cast them at this point. I’ll do it when I’m done reading them all but for now, I actually really like the pics used on the covers…
“LOVE ME WITH LIES” SERIES READING ORDER