Lexy has every intention of divorcing her abusive husband Ryan as soon as she can; his stint in the Marines d...moreReviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley
Lexy has every intention of divorcing her abusive husband Ryan as soon as she can; his stint in the Marines did nothing to change her mind. But now, Ryan has been badly wounded and Lexy is torn: "Her conscience was speaking to her. The one time she wished it would fail her, it was loud and clear. You can't leave him like this."
Lexy is even more torn when she realizes that the Ryan who came back from the Marines is nothing like the Ryan who went in. Able to remember nothing of his past life, he's thoughtful, gentle, and willing to do anything to keep his wife. And he hates the man he used to be… so much, that he finds it harder and harder to believe he really is Ryan…
Liberty suffers from serious plausibility issues and it's pretty formulaic, but it builds up some strong emotions. Lexy has a lot to work through before she can trust and love again, and it's not easy or fast. I liked the touches of humanity given to otherwise demonized characters (Ryan and his buddies) and the very human uncertainty Lexy feels. (less)
There are some romance novels in which the conflict feels forced, like the characters are just making trou...more(reviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley.)
There are some romance novels in which the conflict feels forced, like the characters are just making trouble for themselves. Live isn't one of those: from almost the first meeting of Destiny and Hefin, they -- and we -- know that there's a serious obstacle in the way of them having more than an ephemeral relationship. It gave the story quite a different feel from usual, because there's no anticipation of an upcoming dark moment -- their conflict is how to appreciate the moment they have.
And of course, as a reader, I'm dying to figure out how this issue can possibly be satisfactorily resolved, because it seems so impossible. (I kept thinking of Bob Newhart as Superman, with his suit lost at the dry cleaners: "I don't know if we're going to be able to get you out of this one, Lois.") But gradually, beautifully, it comes to the perfect ending.
Des is firmly rooted in her Lakefield, Ohio community. (This is a small town novel without the small town, believably set in a city neighborhood.) Having recently lost her job, her family home, and her one remaining parent, she clings to pieces of the past. Helping her siblings and neighbors is one way she tries to fill what seems like an emptiness inside her:
After she got laid off six months ago, when Des looked down inside herself, she mostly saw time. Empty time. But not how to live. Not a life. The people most closely related to her saw their entire lives inside themselves.
Hefin, the quietly sexy woodcarver she's been noticing restoring the atrium of the library, is on the verge of beginning a new future. A vacation romance that turned into marriage brought him to the United States; now divorced, he wants to reconnect with his family in Wales and then move on to the work he was meant to be doing. He doesn't particularly want to start something with no future -- as Des correctly points out, he is a "goose" person, the kind who wants to mate for life -- but the attraction between them is very strong. As the attraction becomes love and they begin to truly know each other, their conflict between their needs becomes less rigidly obvious… if they can see it.
The story is written very carefully and deliberately, especially during the sex scenes. Lots of noticing, lots of descriptions of small details -- a lavish depiction of sexual attraction that fits well with their personalities, since they're both people who love to lavish care on others. As is often the case when authors are trying hard to write about sex in fresh language, it occasionally hit a wrong note for me, but I think it pays off in the end.
As any city-set story should be, Live is filled with casual diversity. Hefin, who was adopted from England as a baby, is an undefined racial mix. Destiny's landlady made an interracial marriage in a far more difficult time. Destiny's mother was Jewish, her father Irish Catholic. None of this is particularly important to the story, though the last two have some personal meaning to offer Destiny -- it's just part of the random weave of life.
This is a rich, tender story, not at all the usual contemporary family series fare. I'm looking forward to seeing where life takes the Burnsides next.