Kate Armour and Evan Maxwell fell hard and fast for each other while attending college. Their once passionate and loving relationship ended when old scars eventually tore them apart.
Two years after their breakup, they’re each struggling to piece together what went wrong in an attempt to move forward.
Kate, a no-nonsense bartender, must face her past while attempting to focus on her future.
Evan is stifled by his bitter heart, which threatens each and every relationship he attempts after walking away from Kate.
Will life offer them a second chance at love or are old patterns simply too hard to break?
“I’m scared,” she says, looking into my eyes, pleading for reassurance. “Don’t be. I’m here … right in front of you. Stop pushing me away … or eventually I’ll go.”
This is the tumultuous story of Kate and Evan, two people deeply in love with each other, and their battle to find their happy ending. Over a time span of five years, we follow the ups and downs of a relationship that is tainted by mistrust, jealousy, self-doubt, pride, and eventually distance, all the while carried forward by an undeniable connection of souls that cannot fight the pull their feel towards one another.
Kate and Evan meet while both still at college, but while Evan is driven and with a clear path in front of him, having always had the loving support of his family in everything he ever did, Kate is a drifter. She works at a bar and secretly dreams of becoming a photographer, but does not have the courage or financial backing to pursue her dream. Her parents’ lack of encouragement and disparaging attitude towards her artistic affinities have shaped her into a young woman with very little self-confidence when it comes to her craft.
“… my mother has no faith in me. She thinks I’m a flake, someone who never follows through.”
Her insecurities have also affected every relationship she has ever been in, repeatedly choosing men who are not interested in ‘scratching under the surface’, and always afraid to express her true self with them. She has hopped from one relationship to another, often overlapping them, never giving herself a chance to find herself. Her track record of infidelity is more of a reflection of her low self-esteem and fear of being alone, rather than an inherent inability to commit to one man.
Until she meets Evan. They fall in love effortlessly, immediately, completely. Evan is the first boyfriend Kate has ever had who supports her unconditionally, always pushing her to want more out of life and never settle for anything less. He is her champion, her one-man-fan-club, her reason for daring to dream and want to make something of her life, but Kate’s demons are deeply rooted and inescapable. The more Evan pushes her to turn her dreams into reality, the more she feels unworthy of his love and faith in her, making her keep pushing him away. This only feeds his jealousy and suspicion that she would replace him eventually, spiralling them towards an inevitable end.
“Maybe my mother is right about me. Maybe I am a terrible investment, and Evan’s made the horrible mistake of investing himself in me. Maybe I’m nothing but a self-saboteur who pushes away anything good that comes along in my life.”
Two and a half years together and then two and a half years apart. They never stop thinking about each other, grieving the loss, aching for one another. By hearing both their voices, we feel their pain, their longing, their regret, and it breaks our hearts. They constantly crave what their let slip through their fingers, wondering whether the other has moved on, found love again, forgotten about them. Their issues of trust, both in themselves as well in each other, keep them apart but unable to move on.
“You were my first and only love, and you ripped my f*cking heart to shreds! … You demolished me! You turned me to f*cking rubble, and I’ve never been the same.”
A moving account of the turmoils of a relationship lacking the necessary foundations to survive without significant change. Time is their enemy but it is also their greatest ally as it teaches them to put things into perspective and learn from their mistakes. Nothing is rushed, nothing is forced. Through a subtle lesson of needing to believe in oneself and never expect the worst in people, Evan and Kate travel their journey honestly and willing to change for the sake of what they want the most. Each other.
You never lose faith in human nature when reading a Melissa Brown book. I believe a book often reflects that author’s general view on life and now after having read two of her novels, I want to keep ‘swimming’ in her unique brand of positivity. In true Melissa Brown style, we are given two characters to love, invest ourselves in, and cheer for. We are shown true heartbreak but we also stay confident that she would look after our hearts in the end. There is great joy and comfort in that.
A book for the heart and from the heart, a beautifully narrated story that will feed every single romantic bone in your body.
“From the moment you walked into my life, I belonged to you, Ev. Only you.”
Buy book: Amazon
Melissa Brown is a hopeless romantic living in the Chicagoland area with her husband and their two children.
Aside from writing, she enjoys reading and baking. She also has a slight obsession with actor Henry Cavill and the TV show New Girl.
This is her second novel.
To win an e-copy of Champagne Toast, please ENTER HERE (contest open internationally):