Love is strange. It comes out of nowhere. There’s no logic to it. It’s not methodical. It’s not scientific. It’s pure emotion and passion. And emotion and passion can be dangerous because they fuel love… and hate.
WOW!! This book was absolutely beautiful! I’ve been meaning to read one of this author’s books for ages so when she announced this one, I couldn’t resist and… HOLY FEELS!! I mean woah. I went from swooning in love to literally shaking with anger to shedding tears and back to swooning. The writing was gorgeous and the story was captivating. I highlighted 64 favorite quotes!! It tackles, with stunning insight, topics such as marriage, divorce, love, loss, family… and at the story’s heart is the overwhelmingly powerful depth of a father’s devotion to his children. I guarantee that you will fall in love with this hero. It’s impossible not to. He will straight-up steal your heart forever. Do yourself a favor and read this book!
This is a spoiler-free review but if you don’t really want to know too much about it, just rest assured that this book is fully safe for you to dive in without knowing anything. It’s a standalone with deep feels but it will leave you healed. I loved everything about it, and you can just grab a copy without reading the rest. Again, it’s spoiler-free though (more my reaction TO the book) but I wanted to give you that option.
Ok. On to the review…
In a world where bad boys rule contemporary romance, Kim Holden has stepped outside the box and given us an amazing good guy hero to fall in love with — a saint among husbands and fathers.
The story has interwoven layers of emotion that you can’t help but feel deep in your heart as you read, and complex character development that can make you go from hating a character to hoping for their redemption in the breadth of just a few chapters. You’ll feel everything: love, hate, joy, anger, pain, healing… This book is intricately crafted and rich in detail; an emotionally intelligent story.
“That’s what life is, it’s fucking trying. You don’t get a medal for it. It’s expected, as a member of the human race, that you try.”
We begin the story in the aftermath of a divorce that tore a family apart. Miranda betrayed and left Seamus, her loving devoted husband and father to their three wonderful children. Why you might ask? You’ll have to read the book to truly understand the depths of how damaged she was, but a short version could be to say because, at the time, she was incapable of compassion or love and so blinded by the desire for power that she truly didn’t care who she hurt in her quest for it. Through a series of flashbacks, we’re shown how their relationship first developed and how they got to be where they are. And as the story moves forward, we see the roller-coaster they go on as they find their way to new happiness and stability. When Seamus and his kids settle into their new home, Faith comes into the picture. A mysterious woman, wise beyond her 22 years, who shows him for the first time how beautiful and selfless love can be…
I found Miranda to be an absolutely fascinating character. She was warped and shaped by her childhood to harden her heart against love, and to separate herself from the world around her, stopping at nothing to reach the ends of her goals. She was so blindly devoted to building the perfect life and world for her that she was willing to sacrifice anyone and anything to get what she wanted. But the most interesting thing was that she was self aware enough to recognize how abhorent her actions were. She didn’t necessarily want to be the way she was, but she felt she had to be that way to survive. It was a twisted survival mode.
I’m going to burn in hell atop the hottest pyre for all of eternity.
Because the truth, everything else aside, is that no one’s better for me than Seamus. In the deep, dark recesses of my mind, I know that… Seamus can’t be king to my queen.
Because he’s a saint.
And no one measures up to a saint.
She did things that were downright despicable, and made me shake with pure rage towards her… but if you looked beneath the surface, you could see the fear and insecurity fuelling her actions. However, there were certainly times when her actions went so far that it stopped me from being able to sympathize at all. I wanted her locked away. With the key thrown out. But mostly, I just felt incredibly sad for her. She was so damaged… so deeply damaged that it had twisted her into someone even she felt was irredeemable.
“I love him. I know I don’t love like other people do. My version of love is driven by selfish need, a little self-loathing, and some jealousy. But it feels so damn real when it beats inside my chest, and it’s starved for his touch, and his adoring stare, and his loving words, and his complete devotion. God, I miss that… I wasted years on games. I thought I was winning, most of the time I was losing. Losing him.”
The most horrible thing to me was that, damaged though she may be, she was highly functional — sharp, intelligent, and driven. But also incapable of showing care or developing emotional attachment to anyone other than herself. Even though what she craved most in life was validation and love. She was truly tragic.
I’m waiting for his eyes to meet mine. I’m waiting for him to say something sweet. I’m waiting for him to kiss me. I would give anything to kiss him.
But that can’t happen because he’s a saint.
And I’m a bitch.
And everyone knows it.
Seamus on the other hand was simply too good for her. This amazing man was the most pure, kindhearted, selfless, nurturing person you can imagine — a devoted husband and a loving father. It broke my heart to see him subject to her callous cruelty and to be so emotionally beat down by the divorce which had not only torn his family apart and robbed him of the wife he genuinely once thought he loved, but also had stolen his kids’ mom away from them at an age when they were too young to fully understand why.
“You still love her?” she asks sincerely.
“She’s a bitch,” I answer solemnly. I mean it… and I don’t mean it… in equal measure.
“Bitches need love too.”
Some of my favorite parts of the book were seeing him interact with his children. Seamus is the husband every woman wishes for and the father every woman dreams of for their children. He cared on such a deep level for them and his commitment to their happiness and well being was mirrored in every one of his actions. As a father, he didn’t just care for them, he was also involved in their lives. In everything. I swear, he’s going to steal your heart when you meet him. He’s literally the most amazing dad you can imagine.
“Parenthood isn’t genetic, it’s about love and commitment. Period.”
Like I’d mentioned above, this is where Faith comes in. After the divorce, he had to relocate himself and the children to a place he could afford and Faith was their free spirited neighbour who slowly became a part of their lives. She was, in every way, unlike anything he ever expected. A non-judgmental, openly-loving woman with secrets of her own, who showed him that he didn’t have to give up on love.
“Seamus’ lips told a story. A story I wanted to live in. Forever. A realistic story that was sprinkled with darkness, but that always came back to the light. A light that made me believe love exists. Pure, intentional, forgiving, enduring love.
Bone-jarringly beautiful love.”
This story has a delicious slow burn, but I was unable to put it down from the moment I started. The beautiful writing captured my heart, and the characters compelled me to keep reading.
I really have to applaud Kim Holden on her stellar characterization of Miranda. It takes great skill as a writer to portray someone as being as damaged, twisted, and even cruel as Miranda without making them out to be a senseless villain. You were made to understand her. You were shown the reasons why she did such despicable things. And even if her actions were repulsive, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelming pity for such a wretched creature. It’s incredibly easy to make a character be superficially unlikeable, but it takes much greater skill to make you understand their perspective and even feel remorse for them. Her character arc, development, and growth over the course of this book was a masterpiece of writing.
“Are you trying, Miranda? Is this you trying to be a parent? I want so fucking badly to believe you’re being real with me and that you’ve finally come to the realization that you have the most amazing children on the planet, and that it’s a privilege to be their mom.”
Seasmus really was the heart and soul of this book for me though. In so many ways, this father’s unconditional, unwavering, and powerful love for his children filled my heart to the brim, and made it break that much more painfully to see the things he was put through. You know that feeling when you’re reading a book and your heart just HURTS and you’re this close to tears?? That was me for a whole chunk of this book. But not all of it! There is a lot of healing and redemption. You’re taken to the lowest low point of all and then raised up again. The story comes full circle in a beautiful way and at the end, I was smiling.
“I’ve moved around a lot in my life. I’ve met a lot of people. I like your heart, Seamus.” She cups my cheek, kisses me softly on the corner of my mouth, and whispers, “My heart really likes your heart.”
In so many ways, this is a story of human resilience and undying love. Of what happens when life knocks you down as far as you can go. Do you give up? Or do you stand up once again and fight for what is right?
“I would sell my fucking soul to fight for my kids.”
Ahhh. *deep sigh*
It’s a life story.
It’s a love story.
Life is messy.
Life is beautiful.
Love is messy.
Love is beautiful.
Beautifully written and brimming with raw honesty and emotion, this book captured my heart. You don’t just read this story, you live it with these characters. I so much more than loved it.
It’s definitely a Top Favorite of the year!
Rating: 5 stars. Standalone.