“You are my most epic adventure, princess.”
OH MY GOSH!!! What an absolutely beautiful book!!
With the perfect balance between heart-breaking emotion and heart-warming love, this book completely stole my heart. It’s not every day a book comes along that can make you laugh, swoon, and cry all at once, but after finishing this book, my heart was just overflowing with emotion. I loved the romance, I loved the family bonding, and I can confidently say that this is a top favorite recommendation of the year!!
Sometimes you come across a book and, from the moment you hear about it, you just know that you have to read it. This was one of those books. I read the blurb and tears came to my eyes. My heart was already involved and I dropped everything I was doing to read it. You see, I didn’t just want to read this book, I needed to. Here’s the blurb so you can understand what I mean…
Paul James loved Clara Bateman.
Hating her would have been easier.
She was the past, and he was hell-bent on keeping her there.
Or so he thought…
Craigslist Ad: DESPERATELY SEEKING EPIC
You’re my father. I don’t know much about you. I know your name is Paul James, you’re a thrill seeker, and once upon a time you did stunts and people called you ‘Epic.’ I’ve been told you don’t know about me. That it’s complicated. But for me it’s simple. Here’s the thing: I’m twelve years old…and I’m dying. And as much as this could crush my mother, I have to meet you before I go. In time, I’m sure she’ll understand. She’s still in love with you. So, Epic, if you read this, please come back. You don’t have to be my dad. You don’t even have to tell me you love me or you’re sorry. Just come see me.
Patiently waiting, but running out of time,
Like really…. WOAH.
I was drawn into the story from the very first page, instantly connecting with the characters and feeling absorbed in their lives. This is the kind of book I spend all my time searching for. BN Toler’s writing is smooth and addictive, allowing you to completely lose yourself in the story without a second thought.
The story begins in the present day when, as shown in the blurb, little Neena puts out a desperate message begging her estranged father to return home so she can meet him before she dies. Despite wanting to make Neena happy, her mother Clara had natural concerns about the idea of him returning. Thirteen years ago, Paul had abandoned her without a single word of goodbye. For reasons she’d never learned, the man she’d fallen for at a particularly vulnerable point in her life had left her without an explanation. So, when he arrived back in town, and immediately embraced his role as father to a dying daughter that he’d only just met with an open heart, Clara didn’t know what to think or if she could trust him again. And with the very likely possibility of losing her daughter forever looming in the very near future, she couldn’t bear the thought of losing him again too.
But Paul stepped up with such admirable conviction and dedication, that it made my heart break even as I swooned, and naturally led me to wonder exactly what had really happened thirteen years ago to make such an amazing man disappear.
He fists my hair gently, forcing me to look up at him. “Look at me. I fucked up,” he rasps. “I know it. I’ve always known it. But I did love you, and I’ve never stopped. Hate me for leaving. Hate me for being a dick. But don’t hate me because I didn’t love you.”
Since Neena had never knowm her father growing up, and she knew she wouldn’t have the luxury of a future with him, she begged her parents to tell her the story of how they met, how they fell in love, and how she came to be. So, throughout the course of this book, we’re shown their back story in their own words (not in flashbacks, but actually their story as they tell it) even as we see them move forward together as a newly formed family. And as you read, the full picture of what really happened begins to form.
Believe it or not, even though there is the deeply tragic reality that Neena is dying, much of this book is quite light-hearted and happy, focusing on enjoying the time they have together and living every moment of life to the fullest extent. But with the ever present reality of her illness, there’s the heart-breaking knowledge that they essentially have to fit a lifetime of memories into a few months.
As I watch her, my heart tightens, and I feel Clara’s hand rest on my leg and squeeze as she watches Neena thoughtfully. I place mine on hers as our eyes meet. It’s one of those moments, and I know I’ll never forget. I wish I could freeze it, or somehow box it; trap it so we never lose it.
I absolutely adored all the dynamic between these characters. Seeing the way Paul fell so completely in love with his daughter made me swoon, seeing how fiercely Clara loved her made my heart squeeze, feeling them fall back in love was gorgeous, and seeing them all together as a family for the first time was a potent mixture of all the feels you could possibly imagine. Oh, and the moment when the significance of the book cover is revealed immediately brought tears to my eyes. It was so achingly beautiful!
While this book is definitely filled with so many emotions, I want to reassure you that I didn’t sob my way through it. I actually laughed and swooned quite a lot seeing them bond together as family and watching Clara and Paul fall in love again. But, I’m not going to lie, I cried at the ending. There’s really no surprise as to what happens, but that didn’t make it any easier to read. There are some unfair realities of life that are simply unchangeable. But it’s what you do with the time that you have that counts. And the beautiful epilogue warmed my heart, such that, by the end of the book, I was smiling again through my tears.
For those of you who need spoilers, here you go:
If you’re looking for a uniquely beautiful story that will tug all your heart-strings, then you have to try this! I was desperately seeking an epic book, and when I found this one, it fully delivered everything I’d hoped for and more. I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it to everyone as a top favorite!
Rating: 4.5 stars. Standalone novel.