COVER REVEAL: Unwanted Stars by Melissa Brown

Today I have the great pleasure of showing you the stunning new cover of the fourth book in The Love of My Life series, another timeless love story to feed the romantic in you. I give you Unwanted Stars

Expected release date: 3 February 2014

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It’s funny how the tiniest of things can change your life… an invitation, a simple kiss goodnight, a matchbook…

Auden Kelly is in need of a change.

She’s trading in her nine-to-five sales job for the adventure of a lifetime: a one year contract with a European tour company.

For one full year, Auden will get paid to see the world. What could be better? Her brother gives her a journal, instructing her to document all of her adventures as she travels from country to country. And that’s exactly what she does.

When a mysterious stranger enters her life, however, everything changes: her expectations, her priorities and her view of the world. And nothing for Auden will ever be the same.

excerpt

“I love this bridge. It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I said, my voice small.

Campbell’s brow knitted in concern, “Auden, is everything all right?”

“Why do you ask?”

“You seem distant. Did something happen today? With Anabelle?”

“No,” I said, looking out into the water, “just thinking.”

“About me?” he said, a smug grin plastered to his handsome face. I shook my head in amusement, cracking a smile without meaning to.

“Perhaps,” I said.

“Look,” he said, “all kidding aside. I’m into you. You must know that by now.”

“I do.”

“But, your job means everything to you. And it’s not fair of me to ask you to risk it.”

I said nothing, hoping he’d continue.

“So, if you want to call this off. If you want me to leave you alone. Just say the word.”

The thought of missing out on whatever this was with Campbell was more than I could handle. Without hesitation, my head shook as I focused my eyes on his.

“I’m into you, too,” I said. “A lot.”

Campbell closed the space between us, whispering into my ear, “Then be with me.”

I swallowed hard, closing my eyes and listening to his words. Craving them, wanting more. Wanting his hands on me. Knowing that’d be next to impossible out here in the public eye. Knowing that finding actual privacy would be just as impossible.

His hand was warm in my grip. I squeezed it in solidarity, wanting him to know his desire for me was reciprocated. He placed a gentle kiss on the tip of my ear, before leading me across the stone bridge.

Hand in hand, we walked, gazing at the water, the tourists and the shop owners of the market. We didn’t say much, which felt odd at first. But, the silence between us became soothing and calm. His hand in mine, the way his thumb grazed over my fingers was all I needed to feel content.

Street lamps were the only light to be found by the time the water bus was back in our sights. Campbell stopped walking. His eyes were on fire as he took me in with his eyes. His need for me was obvious.

“Come with me,” he said, pulling me to the side of a building. One small street lamp shined dim with burnt orange light. I leaned my back against the stucco, feeling it’s cold, bumpy texture. Campbell placed his hand against the building, just above my shoulder. His other hand pressed to my hip.

“I can’t let you go yet,” he said, his eyes searching mine.

Brave Auden finally decided to make her appearance.

“Good,” I said, lifting my chin. His eyes widened, pleased with my response.

“Why?” he asked, exploring my neck with his lips.

“Why what?” I asked, playing dumb, yanking back on the control once again.

“Why is that good?” he asked, placing gentle kisses along my jawline.

“Because…” that simple word hung in the air for several moments. Campbell continued to seduce my skin with his lips and I did my best to slow down my breathing.

“Tell me,” he said.

“Because…”

“Tell me,” he repeated.

“I want you,” I said. The words left my mouth in a whisper.

Campbell stopped his kisses and I could feel his cheek against my neck. It was puffing out, forming a satisfied smile.

“Tell me again,” he said, pulling back, gazing into my eyes.

I swallowed, unsure if I should say it again. But, terrified at the thought of not saying it.

“I—I… I want you.” I said, my eyes narrowed. I was trying desperately to hide my fear, my anxiety, my lack of self-control around this man.

“You’re exquisite,” he said, his fingers running down the sides of my cheeks before he cupped his hands to them and kissed me. Hard.

His tongue entered my mouth immediately and I stroked him with mine. Delicious strokes that left me wanting more. And more. His fingers weaved through my hair, pulling gently at the base of my scalp. My back dug into the stucco, but I didn’t care.

Harder and harder, he pressed me into the building, my arms wrapped around his neck as his hands wandered down to grip my ass, hoisting my legs around him, my heels digging into the small of his back. He was hard beneath his jeans and it excited me. The feel of him beneath me was intoxicating.

Campbell pulled his mouth from mine, pushing me up further so that his lips were level with my chest. Slowly, he unbuttoned the top buttons of my tunic, exposing the lace of my bra.

“So sexy,” he said, running his fingers across the lace, causing goosebumps to rise along my arms and legs.

“Say it again,” I said, enjoying his appreciation of my body.

“You’re so fucking sexy. I can hardly stand it.”

“You want me, don’t you?” I asked with a smirk.

“You know I do,” he said, before dipping his head into my chest, stroking the skin beneath the lace with his tongue. A moan escaped my lips as I pressed my hips into his arousal.

The water bus let out three long sounds of the horn.

“Shit,” Campbell said, knowing that was the signal for last boat of the night.

“Last call. We’d better…um, we should probably go,” I said.

“I know, but…”

“I know,” I said, pressing my forehead to his. “I know.”

Slowly, he lowered me to the ground, buttoning my top for me and smoothing down my hair. Such a gentleman. He was practically devouring me just a minute prior, but when reality resurfaced, so did his chivalrous nature.

We ran to the water bus, hands again interlocked. But, when a few members of the tour hopped on the boat, my hands jumped quickly to my lap. We remained detached all the way back to our hotel, saying a casual goodbye for the night, knowing the tour members eyes were upon us.

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Love of My Life – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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Bouquet Toss: My reviewAmazon US | Amazon UK
Champagne Toast: My ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK
Picturing Perfect: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Unwanted Stars: Coming 3 Feb 2014…
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The Giveaway

To win a $25 Gift Card, please enter below. This contest is administered by Melissa Brown.

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COVER REVEAL & EXCERPT: Picturing Perfect by Melissa Brown

I love Melissa Brown’s books. It’s a fact. I love getting lost in her head and let her brand of positivity affect me, nurture me, soothe me. The third book from The Love of My Life series is coming out shortly and it tells Jason’s story. We met Jason in Champagne Toast as Kate’s writer friend and we now finally get to watch him find the love of his life.

Today, I am so very excited to show you the stunning cover of Picturing Perfect, photographed by Lisa Jordan Photography and designed by Michelle Preast at IndieBookCovers

Expected release date: 12 June 2013

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The Story

Life may not turn out like we planned, but sometimes that’s what makes it perfect…

Hadley Foster has always been a planner. But, since the age of nineteen, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan… not at all. And the changes continue to mount when a trip to Europe with her best friend starts a domino effect in all aspects of her life. Suddenly, the future she had envisioned for herself seems unlikely to happen. It’s time to make a new plan… or accept the dominoes as they fall.

Jason Kelly has a great life. He’s a successful self-published writer who’s living his dreams. But, something is missing. Hadley Foster. Letting her slip through his fingers is one of his biggest regrets. Over time, he had to accept the idea of being without his first love as he watched her fall in love with someone else.

When circumstances bring Jason and Hadley back into one another’s lives, they’re forced to deal with their past, their present and the possibility of a future together.

The Excerpt

Jason

Madeline Kramer is a royal pain in my ass. No one else’s. Just mine. She won’t cooperate. She won’t do the things I want her to do; say the things I want her to say. She’s maddening. She’s a product of my imagination and yet I can’t control her.

I’ve been stuck on Chapter 13 of this book for three weeks and it’s driving me nuts. Madeline has been the one character I could count on with my writing. The one character who led the way and spoke to me, the one who guided my books towards a suspenseful plot and a satisfying ending. She was the one who made people want to read my work. In the three books I’ve written, she’s never let me down. Until now. It’s the ‘Book 4 Curse’ my buddy, and fellow writer, Cameron warned me about. I allowed him to psych me out. That little shit.

I’ve been staring at my Mac screen for what feels like an hour. Glancing at my watch, I’m shocked to see it’s only been 15 minutes. Ugh. Maybe I need to stretch my legs. Just as I’m standing up, my cell rings. Usually I put it on vibrate when I’m writing. Must have forgotten this morning.

It’s my sister, Auden.

“Hey, sis,” I answer.

“Morning, how are ya?” I can tell she’s smiling through the phone. The ever so chipper Auden. She should be a tour guide with her always sunny personality. Although I shouldn’t give her too much hell. We’re very much alike.

“You know… better than some, not as good as others.”

“You always say that. How’s the writing?”

“Madeline won’t cooperate,” I huff.

“So, I guess it’s same old, same old.” She laughs.

“Yep, I guess so. How are you today?”

“Oh, I’m fine. I’m heading over to Hadley’s place for the day.”

“How’s she feeling?” I ask.

My sister’s best friend is slowly bouncing back from a pretty harsh case of pneumonia. I don’t want Auden to know just how concerned I am because she’ll read too much into it. So, I have to play it safe with my questions.

“She’s tough, and I know she’ll be just fine. But, she’s taking a ton of meds that make her sleep for most of the day.”

“Anything I can do?” I ask, grimacing after asking the question. I know Auden will really read way too much into that.

“Well, ain’t you sweet, big brother?” she teases.

“Whatever. I’m just writing this morning,” I say, trying not to sound defensive.

“I know you’ve always had a soft spot for Hadley,” she says and I can hear her smirking through the phone. Brat.

“She’s a nice girl,” I say, a little too defensively.

Woman,” my sister corrects me. My brain knows that Hadley is grown up now. But, to me she’s always been my little sister’s best friend who had a pretty obvious crush on me.

She was the eight year old who used to blush when I’d enter the room. I didn’t notice, being only eleven myself, but my older sister Maya always did. Hadley was the thirteen year old who made me mix tapes with her parents’ old stereo unit when I bought my first car. At first, I was bummed that I couldn’t afford to replace the old cassette unit with a CD player, but I listened to those tapes every single day. When my dad offered to install a CD player for my birthday that year, I turned him down. That was my only tape player and I couldn’t stop listening to her tapes. “Soft spot” doesn’t even begin to tell the story of my feelings for Hadley. She’s always gotten under my skin in a way that I didn’t really understand as a teenager.

Today, I get it. But, I have no idea what to do about it. She has a boyfriend, and from what Auden tells me, they are pretty serious.

In many ways, I’ve been waiting six years for that relationship to end. And it still hasn’t. I’m not really waiting around for Hadley. I date. I date a lot, actually. And I’ve had a few serious girlfriends of my own. But, for some reason, things always come back to Hadley… my Haddie.

“Yes, woman,” I roll my eyes, shaking my head at my sister as if she could actually see me through my cell.

“Whatever, Jase. Listen, I’ll let you get back to Madeline. Will I see you this weekend at Mom and Dad’s?”

“Yep, Sunday dinner. Wouldn’t miss it.”

“See you then,” she says before hanging up her phone. I press End on my phone and open my awaiting laptop. Damn you, Auden. For making me ponder things that I really don’t want to think about. Things I’ve been happy to keep tucked away in my brain.

Somehow, two cappuccinos later, I’m able to finish chapter 13. I had to retype the name Madeline several times as my brain replaced it with Haddie. Why do I torture myself like this? She’s been with Tucker for six years and a simple case of pneumonia isn’t going to change that. I need to get a grip.

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EXCLUSIVE: Champagne Toast by Melissa Brown – Original Epilogue

champagnetoast2_322x500It is no secret that I am addicted to Melissa Brown’s unique brand of positivity and Champagne Toast quickly became one of my Favourite Books ever. This particular story is so very close to my heart and it moves me just thinking about it. I was among the first people lucky enough to read it and it still makes my heart tingle every time I remember Evan and Kate and their timeless romance.

Their story ended just perfectly but today Melissa is sharing with us a second ending that never made it into the final version of the book. It is so good, it simply did not deserve to stay on the cutting room floor. However, a word of warning, you should not read this unless you’ve read Champagne Toast before. I give you the Original Epilogue of Champagne Toast

exclusive

Kate ~ June 14, 2014

I used to think weddings were cheesy. I used to think all those girls who spent months agonizing over flowers and caterers and guest lists were wasting their time on things that just didn’t matter.

And then Evan asked me to marry him. And everything changed.

Today, just forty minutes ago, Evan became my husband and now all of those things makes sense. The flowers, the caterers, the guest list. It does matter.

I used to picture Evan and I alone on a beach, saying our vows to a judge. He and I against the world. But, I don’t feel that way anymore. We decided to have our wedding here at the Blue Door Gallery, the place where our future began. It’s cocktail hour now and all of the guests are mingling in the courtyard as the staff replaces the ceremony decor with tables and chairs for dinner.

Champagne Toast 1Evan and I walk, hand in hand, as we visit with our guests. I am in awe of him as he greets each guest with a smile, a pat on the back or a warm hug. We’ve decided to keep it small—just those who matter to us the most. Giving Evan a kiss on the cheek, I say, “it’s time for me to get to work.” He shakes his head at me with a knowing smile. We hired a photographer for the event, but I can’t help myself. I want to take some on my own, with my Canon, that Evan and I can develop in our new darkroom. Evan helped me build the darkroom a few months after we moved into the apartment and has been an eager student ever since. He’s even developed a few rolls of film on his own without any help from me. And he did a pretty good job. I was really proud.

Walking a few steps away from Evan, I snap pictures of the courtyard at Blue Door. The hanging white lights connect the few trees together. I can’t wait to see them shine when we return to dance after the dinner hour. Our thirty guests mingle as they drink cocktails and munch on hors d’oeuvres.

My parents are having pleasant conversation with the Maxwells. And even though they are so different from one another, they’re all making the effort, which is all Evan and I can ask for. My relationship with Richard and Angeline isn’t perfect, but we’ve come a long way since the night my mother came to my exhibition. When I told her that this was our chosen wedding venue, her eyes filled with tears and she hugged me so tight, simply saying “Thank you.” This location is special for her, just as it is for Evan and me.

Angeline and I bonded over my dress as well. When she told me she wanted to accompany me to the bridal shop, I was floored…and then I was nervous. I was terrified that she’d want me to wear a dress that would make me look like a big meringue; something flashy and expensive, something that weighed a ton. But, she surprised me. The very first dress I tried on was just as I had imagined my dress would be. Flowing and light, classy and comfortable. And Angeline started to cry. She cried and cried without saying a word. When I asked her, “Do you like it?” She nodded emphatically as she wiped her eyes with a tissue. And in that moment, I knew it was the right dress.

Bree, who is is single once again, is talking with Evan’s friends Daphne and Tanner. They’re a very nice couple who Evan has known for several years. Even though I’ve only known them since getting back together with Evan, I am taken with them. They’re so kind to one another, so sweet and good natured. They inspire me to be a little less guarded, a little less skeptical. Daphne holds a special place in my heart ever since Evan told me about how she pushed him to trust me and to follow his heart. In many ways, that gentle redhead has changed my life and I will forever be grateful to her.

“Hey there, Bride,” Jason says as I take a few quick shots of him and his date, “I’m not sure you’re supposed to be working today. Let someone else do that.” I raise an eyebrow at my friend and he laughs, “Yeah, yeah. Okay, I get it.”

“Yep,” I smile, giving him a warm hug, raising my camera in the air, “taking pictures of this day makes me happy. It makes it complete.”

“Jason, so glad you could make it,” Evan says, extending his hand. Jason shakes Evan’s hand, pulling him in for a brief hug.

“Congratulations, man,” Jason says, raising his glass to Evan, “this is my friend, Erin.”

“It’s very nice to meet you,” Evan says to the petite girl who’s blushing like crazy. She and Jason just started dating. It’s still new and fresh and he hesitated on whether or not he should invite her to our wedding, but I insisted.

“Mind if I steal my bride away for just a minute?” Evan asks.

“Of course,” Jason replies, placing his arm around Erin as he smiles wide at the two of us.

Evan’s bride. I love the sound of that.

“You know,” Evan says as we near the center of the courtyard, “I always knew this day would come.”

“You did?” I ask, raising an eyebrow, not sure if he’s being serious or a smartass. Sometimes with Evan it’s hard to tell. And I love that.

“Yep, I always knew that no matter what mistakes we made, we’d end up just like this.” He says, running his hand down the side of my cheek, “husband and wife.”

“Husband,” I say aloud, “I like the sound of that.”

Evan kneels down before me, planting a kiss on my hand as he smirks to himself.

“What are you doing, Ev?” I ask, surprised as I look down at him with curious eyes.

“Sweets, my gorgeous wife,” he says, looking in to my eyes, “You were worth the wait.”

“As were you, Ev.” I smile down at him, doing my best not to let the tears come.

“And I’m going to be such a great husband.” He laughs as he stands.

“Oh, awfully confident there, Maxwell.” I say sarcastically.

“Yep, I am. And that’s why you love me.”

“It’s one of the many reasons, yes.”

Later, as we take our seats for dinner, Evan stands to great our small group of guests. I look at him in shock. We didn’t plan for any toasts so I wonder what he’s up to. He gives me a warm smile before addressing everyone in the room. And as he does this, I see the wait staff is passing out glasses of champagne to all of our guests, Evan and myself.

“Thank you so much for joining us today,” Evan says, taking his glass of champagne, “this is, without a doubt, the happiest day of my life. I just want to thank Kate for teaching me the most important lesson of my life.

He turns, looking me in the eye, “You’ve taught me that with faith and trust, love really is the most possible thing in the world. And I can’t thank you enough for that. I will love you forever, sweets.” A tear rolls down my cheek as I smile at my husband.

“To Kate,” Evan says, raising his glass. The crowd echoes in unison.

But, as they repeat his toast, I raise my glass and simply say, “To Evan.”

The Story

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?

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The Giveaway

To win one of THREE eBook copies of Champagne Toast, please enter below. By entering, you accept the following Giveaway Conditions

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Champagne Toast by Melissa Brown

champagnetoast2_322x500Kate 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?

 

 

review

“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.”

4halfstars

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The Author

Melissa Brown_picMelissa 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.

Connect with Melissa: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
The Giveaway

To win an e-copy of Champagne Toast, please ENTER HERE (contest open internationally):

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Bouquet Toss by Melissa Brown

Ever since Daphne Harper graduated from college, all of her friends have fallen in love, become engaged and walked down the aisle. Be it a blessing or a curse, Daphne (a hopeless romantic and perpetual single girl) catches the bouquet at every single wedding she attends.

Daphne’s love life is a mess. Her first love, Mayson, haunts her heart and keeps her from pursuing happiness with any man who comes along. As she struggles to move on from the one who got away, Daphne wonders if she will ever break her curse and find her happily ever after.

 

 

 

 

review

“Could he be the one? Could he be my soul mate?”

Never has a book resonated with me on such a personal level as this one. It hit scarily too close to home at times, making the heroine’s journey an intimately familiar one.

Daphne is the epitome of every woman who has ever had one great love in her life that came to an unwanted end. The ghost of ‘the one that got away’ ends up haunting us, affecting all subsequent relationships, often setting an unreachable and somewhat idolised standard of what true love should feel like. Mayson was ‘that’ love for Daphne. He was her first love, a man she adored and hoped to spend the rest of her life with, but who ended up breaking her heart and leaving her only with memories of “coulda-woulda-shoulda”.

Daphne is a romantic soul, she dreams of happily-ever-afters, she craves the kind of love that is all-consuming and eternal, she loves with all her heart and she bleeds the same way when her heart shatters. As afraid as she is of never finding true love again, she never loses hope, bravely putting herself ‘out there’ and willing to take a chance. Daphne is also full of insecurities – the ‘great love of her life’ never really knew her, never saw her fragile side or witnessed her careless and fun traits. She was always so afraid of losing him, constantly dreading doing something that would eventually scare him away, so she kept holding back and hiding all the colourful facets of her personality that she was unsure he would have approved of. She tried to be perfect for him all the time, avoiding conflict at all costs.

“Desperate to stay in this moment with Mayson, I’m once again pushing away my true wants, my true needs. My heart sinks as I realize just how much of myself I’ve been keeping from him, simply afraid of making him run for the hills. And so, I cling desperately to this beautiful man before me, and hold back my questions, my concerns, my fears.”

Her image of Mayson is also a warped one. Their relationship is based on so many unanswered questions, from both sides, making Daphne’s little romantic castle of cards something she can never truly depend on or draw strength from. He represents an unreachable ideal in her mind, built on failed hopes and unfulfilled dreams, but one that affects her ability to give her heart away to anyone else.

“… you still love him, too … I can’t compete with a memory … I don’t think anyone can. You will always remember Mayson the way you want to remember him. Over time, you’ll forget all the bad stuff and focus only on the good. You’ll focus on … the future you could have had with him if things had been different. How can you and I possibly have any sort of future together if you are clinging to the past?”

It is irrelevant in my mind whether Mayson was ‘The One’ for Daphne or not, this touching story deserves to reveal that on its own. I felt that the message was much more important in this case than the scenario itself. Daphne’s story reminded me of how easy it to forget oneself while desperately chasing an ideal of love. The fear of rejection, of not being ‘enough’, of disappointing someone by being our true selves, of making our needs and desires take second seat and putting someone else’s before our own – all this made this story ‘real’ and almost palpable in my mind. However, as much as I wanted to make Daphne the embodiment of all the mistakes I have ever made in my love life and achieve some sort of redemption through her, I felt that the emotional development of this beautiful character could have been deeper. I struggled to feel her emotions at times, leaving me no other option but to project my own onto her and that is not what I’m necessarily seeking from a fictional character. I wanted to immerse myself in what she was feeling, cry with her, laugh with her, feel utter earth-shattering heartbreak with her until I don’t know which way is up and which way is down, or such joy that makes my skin tingle, but I felt we never quite got there. The dialogues between the characters didn’t help me either to feel that connection with them that I was so desperate to achieve. They were weak in parts, awkwardly strained in their wording and not spontaneous enough, often not flowing well for me or distracting me from the moment itself. This affected my overall enjoyment of the book but it did not deter me from wanting to finish it.

Daphne’s story is incredibly real and almost uncomfortably familiar. Her search for ‘true love’ is moving, sincere, heart-warming. I believe her quest for love is just as much about finding her voice in a relationship as it is about finding the right person. It shows us what love should really feel like and how much our predisposition to fear losing love can impinge on setting ourselves free.

“He understands me. He loves me for who I am. He knows the deepest voice in my heart and he cherishes me for it. It has got to be the best feeling in the world.”

3stars

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