Oh, this book is gorgeous. From the first chapter it’s like a fist reaches out to grab you by the heart and doesn’t let go. It’s one of those books you want to read very slowly so you can savor each and every word. Live in it for as long as possible. Discover its depth and richness and let it seep into your soul. Because this book is beautiful. The writing is exquisite and elegant and worth letting yourself fall into it. And at the same time, I wish I’d been able to read it in one sitting because sinking into this with no interruptions would have had me completely lost in this story.
Meredith Duran writes in a way that plays your sense memories to their full advantage. Smell, taste, feel, sight, sound. Everything is so beautifully described that they conjure a nearly nostalgic feeling for things you’ve never even experienced simply by describing things that are recognizable to your senses alone. The way a particular flower smells. The feeling of a breeze rustling skirts around your legs. The taste of a decadent meal. The sound of an orchestra tuning. Things you can conjure in your mind so vividly are layered and built upon until you feel transported into whatever scene is unfolding.
And of course that same talent pulls you into the romance as well. Remembering how it feels to fall in love. The anxiety before you know if someone feels the same. The bliss of a first kiss. The touch of a lovers hand. The heartbreak of unrequited love. She wraps you up in your senses so effectively that her stories are inevitably emotional. They tug at your heart in a way that is second to no other romance author I’ve read. Simply because of the captivating layers she constructs, both as part of the world she’s building and as she develops her characters throughout the novel.
It’s not often when you come across a romance where you truly feel that their love has blossomed. That’s what happens here. Alex and Gwen have known each other for half their lives. And their romance finally begins to kick off at a time when Gwen desperately needs to find herself, while Alex knows who he is but must come to an understanding about what he needs to keep moving forward in life. Without giving you too many details about the plot, that is essentially what this novel is about. It’s two people who already know each other discovering that the they know each other. And more importantly, it’s about trust and forgiveness.
In truth, Alex and Gwen’s feelings had taken root long before this book started. But as their story moves forward it finally begins to grow and bloom until it’s bright and lush and thriving. It’s natural and right. It makes sense that it took them so long to get there and that it finally became something real at the time this all takes place.
The first time these two go to bed together it’s not only hot and sexy but so incredibly loving. They’ve come to this moment after the unearthing of long buried feelings and startling realizations about themselves and each other. They’ve revealed their inner secrets, their demons, their desires, their hopes and fears, the things that break them and that can make them whole. The timing, the appropriateness of its placement, the way it happens, the things they say to each other and how they are with each other, is perfection.
My one single (and very slight) criticism about this book is that there is no epilogue. I did not want this book to end. I want to say immersed in it forever. I want to be a fly on the wall watching these two fall in love all over the world. I want to see their future. I want to see their hard won romance stretch into easiness and comfort across time. But on some level, an epilogue would not work so well with this novel. Their lives are to be an adventure, unexpected, unpredictable. There is a reason we are left with a question mark. It makes sense to their story. And so even though I just want more, I accept that an epilogue in this case, if not done perfectly, would only ruin that deliberate uncertainty.