You can follow the rules or you can follow your heart…
Sienna Murphy never does anything without a plan. And so far her plans have been working. Right after college, she got a prestigious job and gained the stability she’d always craved–until work takes her to the sun-drenched shores of Oahu and places her in the path of sexy surfer Luke Everett. For the first time, she lets her heart take control. Drawn to his carefree charm, she makes a spontaneous and very un-Sienna-like decision to drop everything and stay in Hawaii for two more weeks.
Luke lives fast and wild. When he meets Sienna, he’s convinced that some no-strings-attached fun is just what she needs. As their nights quickly turn from playful to passionate, Luke can’t deny the deep connection he feels. But there’s a reason Luke doesn’t do long-term. He can’t promise Sienna forever, when the enormity of his past has shown him just how fragile the future can be.
“We’re all stronger than our weaknesses. Sometimes we just need someone else to help us find that strength.”
Not all great stories make your heart skip beats, or leave your mind in a twist—some stories seep slowly from the pages, like a mist gently descending down a mountainside, and percolate your skin, your bones, your heart with the mere magnitude of the message they carry. This was one of those life-altering stories for me. I cannot tell you how much this book truly touched me, challenged me, confronted me, its timing almost uncanny given how much I’ve been personally pondering on these ideas of late. This is a love story, first and foremost, and yet at the very core of it lies a thought-provoking reflection on our purpose in life, on why we do what we do, on how much of us gets lost in the endless pursuit of money, success, security, and on the true meaning of happiness and freedom. I will admit that it took some time for this book to captivate me fully, its deliberate slow pace being difficult to acclimatise to at first, but once I became invested in the story, I could not think of anything else. Perfectly timed, flawlessly written, deeply relevant as all this author’s stories tend to be when it comes to exploring the human condition in all its multi-faceted beauty—I loved this book with all my heart and was once again reminded of Ms Redmerski’s extraordinary gift for extracting us from our own lives and letting us escape to another reality, all the while pondering on the life we left behind.
“Have you ever had that feeling when you know deep down that you should do something? Like if you don’t do it, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life?”
A twenty-two-year-old event coordinator for a high-profile event planning company from California, we find our heroine, Sienna Murphy, on an all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii, in the final stages of organising a lavish wedding. But as good as she is at her job, it becomes clear from the very start that Sienna’s heart is no longer in it, the never-ending race to prove her worth to her boss and to her clients, as well as the large commissions that are constantly dangled in front of her, finally starting to lose their appeal and thus making her question her priorities in life. Overcome by stress caused by her latest project, Sienna finds herself in the midst of a mini-breakdown, and it is at this moment that she meets a man destined to change her life forever.
“Luke Everett is dangerous. He’s more dangerous than flying in a plane or jumping from a cliff into water or from a bridge attached by a giant rubber band or getting lost in the forest. Everything about him screams change and the unknown and if you let him in, your meticulously planned life will never be the same again.”
Luke Everett is a free spirit, a man determined to live an uncomplicated life, far away from the fast-paced daily grind of city living. He spends his days teaching surfing and working at a small local business, but as a lover of extreme sports and a firm believer of living life without fears, he is also hooked on the thrill and the sense of freedom he gets from leaping out of airplanes, climbing rocks, or jumping from cliffs with only a few seconds to deploy a parachute. And while he normally stays away from women he knows would never understand his lifestyle but rather run in the opposite direction the moment they find out about his daredevil pastimes, in Sienna he recognises the person he used to be, the person he left behind before he realised what his own fears had cost him. He is inexplicably drawn to her and he asks her to stay.
“I know this sounds crazy…it even sounds crazy to me, but I want you to stay.”
As a three-day business trip turns into a two-week vacation, we watch Sienna and Luke grow closer each day, discovering one another and all they could be together. With patience and understanding, Luke helps Sienna free herself from her biggest fears, thus inspiring her to find herself and her true potential, but while tackling Sienna’s obstacles, his own demons slowly come to the surface, exposing a guilt-ridden young man who resents every day he gets to live.
“I drank the sky and brought an angel down with me.”
This is a story about the fears that prevent us from being who we were truly meant to be, about the reasons and excuses we find to keep living unfulfilling, uneventful lives, while our hearts ache for more. It’s a story exploring the age-old argument of whether we are put on this earth to live to work, or work to live. It shows us what a person can find in life once they start living fearlessly, freely, embracing our true passions and divesting ourselves of our greatest fears. What begins as a tale of two opposites attracting, Sienna and Luke’s story quickly becomes a lesson in perspective, a lesson in priorities, a lesson in loving, a lesson in living life in the moment, fear-free, and unafraid of change. It’s a story that fed the hopeless romantic in me, while also leaving me pondering on my own life. And I loved every moment of it.
“Most people never let their feet leave the ground. Whether they’re afraid of heights, or afraid of hospitals, or they stay in the same place all their life because they’re afraid of change—so many people go through life on the ground and die without ever knowing that they can fly.”
She smiles ridiculously and shakes her head—I fight the urge to reach out and pull her down on my lap; the image of her bare thighs around my waist, my hands hugging the curvature of her ass…breathe Luke…just breathe.
“I’m not walking on your back,” she sort of laughs the words out.
“Why not?” I cock my head to one side.
“Well I think I’m a little too heavy to be walking on your back,” she says as if I should already know this. “And because it’s weird?” It was more a statement than a question, but something else she thinks I should already know, apparently.
God, she’s so fucking cute.
I roll my eyes. “Don’t tell me you’re one of those girls who wears a size zero and thinks she’s fat.”
“No! I’m not one of those,” she defends. “I just don’t want to hurt you!”
I laugh without restraint.
“OK, well you’re not going to hurt me, I can promise you that.” I get up from the couch—with pretend difficulty—and step around Sienna and the coffee table and then lay on my bare chest on the floor. “Come on. It’ll really help me out a lot.” One side of my face is pressed against the rug as I look up at her at an angle. She stands over me with her flimsy arms crossed—I grow even harder beneath my shorts.
“No, Luke,” she laughs, “I’m not going to do it.”
“Yeah you are,” I say casually and wave my hand at her as if there’s nothing to it. “The only way you can hurt me is if you jump up and down really, really hard. Now get on.”
She shakes her head repeatedly, her smile growing.
I break out the big guns.
“It’s the least you can do for me letting you stay here for free and have my bed.” I grin subtly, which I imagine looks strange with my cheek smashed against the floor.
“No!” She laughs out loud. “I’ll sleep on the couch from now on if that’s the case.”
With me? I want to say—and almost do—but restrain myself.
“No you won’t,” I tell her sharply. “What kind of guy would I be if I made you sleep on the couch while I was all sprawled out on the comfy bed? Now step on and start walkin’.”
Absolutely, one hundred percent, no-going-back crazy for you—I admit it.
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