This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Atria Books
Released on November 11, 2014
I grabbed this one after reading the blurb and seeing that it was a new to me author. I wasn’t sure what to expected, but oh the feels…
This one hit fast and hard when it came to both of these characters. Ava was a damaged soul who broke after the loss of her dad, her mom’s emotional withdrawal, and finally losing the love of her life in a tragic way and all that when she was just nineteen. Nate is in slightly better shape, but he too experienced pain when one of his patients died while he was doing surgery and it’s a wake-up call to realize that his life is his work and nothing else.
This story told alternating first person point of view is of two lost people who help each other find themselves again. Nate is a brilliant young heart surgeon from LA and Ava is a salt of the earth wrangler on a ranch. From outward appearances, they shouldn’t work, but love finds a way.
Nate’s dad sends him off to stay on the Montana ranch where his uncle and aunt live and he is soon caught up trying to figure out the enigma that is Ava. Everyone on the ranch has diverse opinions about Ava. She has been like a ghost for five years with some feeling for her and others having lost all patience. Nate’s arrival and his being an outsider who doesn’t have first person knowledge of the tragedy make him succeed with Ava where others have failed. But even for Nate, Ava is no easy matter. She is skittish, mercurial, and most of all wary. Her case of survivor’s guilt runs deep. He can’t quite give up on her even when she pushes him away and runs from him and in her own way, she teaches him to see beyond his work and learn to grasp for the good things in life.
Ava slowly starts to come alive after Nate arrives and challenges her to move forward. At first, she is bitter and angry with him for not understanding and guilty every time he coaxes a smile, a laugh or a good time out of her. She feels unworthy to have a second chance when Jake is gone and then when she does figure out that she can let go, she is lost as to who she is since she has defined herself as Jake’s wife for so long. If she can’t find herself and learn to love and live again, she might lose something really special with a man who truly sees her.
This was heartbreaking and poignant and a really well-done bit of character and romantic development. The first part of the story is told in a detached way that seems to be meant to get the reader up to speed and then it settles back into a gently paced story with the only blips being the emotional kind.
Speaking of these emotional blips, this one is a tough story when it comes to the characters. They are noth easy to engage with particularly Ava. Pity was easy to feel and a sense of wanting to cheer her on, but she plays the ‘broken doll’ role very well and its hard to have patience with her. Nate is very career-focused, but his time at the ranch showed that he was so much more. He made some mistakes, but for the most part, he was stable and oh so patient and loving toward a woman who most everyone else had written off and saw as unlovable.
The secondary characters serve an interesting role. Most of them are in the picture when Nate’s doing the narrating. He is the one who is connected to life and to other people. Ava’s narrations involve herself or Nate for the most part until later when she starts to leave her past behind.
They take itsy bitsy steps, but there is humor and heat laced through it to keep things interesting. I cracked up when they pulled a prank on a grouchy ranch hand and I loved the scene at the hot spring where they ran into the other couple.
My only real niggle was the end. It was really cool how the last scenes played out in an epistolary format with Nate’s letters, but it made me feel detached from the story. Interesting choice for epilogue which again was disappointing because I wanted more first hand contact with the characters after all they had been through.
In the end, I enjoyed this story though it wasn’t as light as I thought it would be. It’s a story of growth and healing in a steamy opposites attract romance. I think it falls into the New Adult category because of Ava, but Nate is a little older so I would recommend it to New Adult and Contemporary Romance lovers.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.