Review: Finding Tranquility by Laura Heffernan

Posted June 27, 2020 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 16 Comments

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Review: Finding Tranquility by Laura Heffernan
Finding Tranquility

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Genres: Contemporary Romance, F/F Romance
Published by Empress Books
Released on January 20, 2020
Pages: 223
Format: eBook
Source: Giveaway
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The Delight

What if a person who has never felt comfortable in his body and is living in private misery with the love of his life gets the opportunity for a reset?  On 9/11 the unthinkable happened, but it is only the catalyst for the rest of Brett and Jess Cooper’s story.  This certainly had a unique set up and I was eager because one of the main characters is a trans woman which there just aren’t as many stories about.


Review

Finding Tranquility opens with a present day situation for a hotel manager, Christa, who stumbles right into the past she left behind when she looks into the face of Jess Cooper and they recognize each other.

Dropping back into the past, Brett Cooper is being driven to the airport by his wife to go to an interview for a job he doesn’t even want in a place he doesn’t want to live all to please his wife who has the opportunity to go to medical school out in LA.  Terrified of flying and going through a panic attack, he decides at the last minute to give up his ticket and skip the interview.  While sitting in a coffee shop trying to figure out what he’ll say to Jess, the news shows his plane flying into one of the twin towers.  After the shock and guilt of not being on that plane wears off, he takes this weird gift for a chance to figure his life out and start over.  Everyone, including his wife thinks he’s dead.  And, after a journey of the heart that took him to the Tranquility B&B in Vermont, Brett Cooper is dead and Christa is born.  Is there regret and loss?   Absolutely, Jess will always be the love of her life but she has never felt so settled and right.

Jess mourned her husband and childhood sweetheart.  She barely got herself together and went on with her dream of med school and her practice.  Everyone wants her to find a new man, but they all fall short.  She’s still in love with Brett.  Then, when she is on holiday, there is Brett- Christa.  What is she supposed to do with this?  So many emotions.  And, to say it’s complicated is the understatement of a life time.

This was a story that I just knew was going to get all kinds of emotional and touch on some hard subject matter.  And, it did, but it was also written with hope and light so that I could mourn and grieve and be confused with both, but also feel the love and friendship that tied two people from childhood.  Love doesn’t care about gender, but it was a tough road to reaching such an understanding.  My heart grieved for both Brett who was caught in expectations that were slowly killing him.  He knew that every day was a lie and only a drastic change would end that.  It was also heartbreaking that Jess had to suffer through the death of the man she loved and find a way to forgive that and understand.

The emotions were the drive of the story, but it explores more than that.  The cultural danger of being trans, the social difficulties, health choices, and of course, legal matters.  Brett/Christa also ran into further complications in a surprise twist of the story.  There is another surprise complication that both Christa and Jess had to figure out and I’ll say no more about.

This is a romance, but not the typical romance formula.  Love was already there, but then it had to break and reinvent itself on a long journey to love of who they truly were on the inside (if that makes sense).  They have to get through so much and get things sorted out which takes up the entire book so if your just looking for a sexy story, this isn’t it.

I only had one niggle.  It stuck with me because the author referenced it several times and it contradicted what was happening.  Brett and Jess lived somewhere near Boston and Brett ended up running to Vermont.  The author describes both places multiple times as liberal and enlightened when it comes to the LGBT community.  But, in both places, Brett/Christa is set upon and beat up when there wasn’t even PDA going on, Christa and Jess are harassed and pushed around at a high school football game where other families come from the LGBT community and aren’t being threatened and abused, a relative is ganged up on and beat up, neighbors are selling their homes and moving away, and all the Christians are practically foaming at the mouth.  I could see some of that being a real possibility, but all of it? Especially when some of the abusers were college kids who I find are generally speaking more open-minded than older adults.  I know, I know, this is fiction and the story must have conflict and tension so I need to stop nitpicking.

All in all, this was a beautiful, touching, and complicated story that I was heartily glad I was able to read.  If you like slow-build, thought-provoking, tough romance situations in an LGBT romance, pick this one up.


Challenges Met

New Release #79
COYER Quarantine #49
Romance BINGO #10 LGBT


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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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Ethan
6 days ago

This sounds like a really emotional read. I do think I would be bothered by the way Brett handled his situation though. I get wanting to start over, but he could have at least written to Jess to explain the situation!

Sophia Rose
6 days ago
Reply to  Ethan

Oh my stars, yes! Just disappearing like that and letting everyone think you’re dead and letting years pass… That was definitely the central conflict in Jess’ side of the story. It was definitely a long road and I’m glad the author let all of it play out, ugly truths and emotions and all.

Christina Morland
6 days ago

This book sounds fascinating and tough in the best of ways. Thanks for reviewing it. You raise an interesting question about how to use conflict in a story, particularly when that conflict centers on matters of identity. Something to ponder, for sure.

Sophia Rose
6 days ago

It was exactly that, Christina. My heart hurt for them both b/c there was no easy way to go.
Glad to give you food for thought. Sometimes a little thing catches my attention in a book and it’s not even the main focus, but gets my brain whirring. 🙂

Mary Kirkland
6 days ago

This sounds like an emotional journey but to start over like that is not right. I don’t think this one would be for me.

Sophia Rose
6 days ago
Reply to  Mary Kirkland

Yeah, that was the most difficult part of this story to get over. Definitely emotional, Mary.

Lola
6 days ago

I am so happy you enjoyed this one. I already read your review on Goodreads as well and it was interesting to see how we had many of the same thought. My only niggle was that the ending seemed a bit abrupt. I liked the hopeful note the whole story had even when dealing with such some difficult topics.

Sophia Rose
6 days ago
Reply to  Lola

I really did. I was hoping it wouldn’t get too angsty and it didn’t- just the right amount for what was going on. A lot going on for them both.

Rachel @Waves of Fiction

I think I’d be pretty upset if I were Jess. Brett allowing her to believe he was killed is not cool. I don’t really understand why Brett felt the need to change his gender if he was with the love of his life either. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this kind of situation when I’ve never felt gender confusion, and that’s on me I realize. Glad to hear you enjoyed the story, Sophia!

Sophia Rose
5 days ago

I probably didn’t explain it well, Rachel. I thought he was confused at first about it, but I got to thinking about the way stuff went down that he felt wrong since he was a kid, but didn’t see himself as a trans woman until he got an epiphany after he ran. I got the impression that he was barely keeping it together and that was where the snap decisions to run and stay gone came from. He really felt that the world was better off without him. To be honest, I read it and there were a few things… Read more »

Lover of Romance
5 days ago

Sounds like such a touching read and I love authors that tackles those unique topics ….definitely a emotional roller coaster I love immersing myself in.

Great review.

Sophia Rose
4 days ago

It really was and complicated, but not beyond what was necessary. I really enjoyed this one.

Carole Rae
4 days ago

I feel like that would be a niggle for me too

Sophia Rose
4 days ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

It was very distracting. No sooner does it say its a big accepting world there and then they get the stuffing beat out of them. I think a conservative town would be safer. 🙂

Lindy Gomez
3 days ago

Wow this sounds like an emotional read! I can see why you’d feel for both of these characters, with Jess thinking her husband is dead, and Brett-Christa’s inner turmoil and continued struggles. I’m glad that love won in the end, but can see how it was a very complicated situation for this couple. I’m glad you enjoyed this story. Fantastic Review Sophia!

Sophia Rose
3 days ago
Reply to  Lindy Gomez

Honestly, I feel like there was something of a fairytale quality to it even though they had some ugly and tough emotions b/c I doubt real life would bring an HEA for this pair. I enjoyed the story a lot. Thanks, Lindy!