"She's beauty for my ashes. And I'm hope for her heartache." (Cole Danzer)
I don't know what makes a great love story. Is it that instant attraction when boy meets girl? The passionate kisses and the fairy-tale ending? Or is it a lifetime of tragedy, paid in advance, for a few stolen moments of pure bliss? Is it the pain and the suffering that in the end you can say are worth it for having found the missing piece of your soul?
The answer is: I don't know. I don't know what makes a great love story. I only know what makes my love story. I only know that finding Cole when I did, when Emmy and I were running from a nightmare, was the only thing that saved me. That saved us. He was more broken than I was, but somehow we took each other's shattered pieces and made a whole. If that is what makes a great love story, if that is what makes an epic romance, then mine...ours is the greatest of them all.
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How to mend a broken soul?
This book has two endings, one HEA and the other a cliffhanger - I have different ratings for each.
HEA - 4.5 Stars
The four stars goes to the execution and narration. I was able to imagine Cole, Eden, and Emmy's world, their present and their pasts. In short, I smelled the ocean, felt the sand on my toes and fingers, the cold of winter, and warmth of the hearth. M. Leighton was able to pull me in by the way she built the characters' world and develop each one of them from broken pieces to somewhat together as a whole. The dialogue was sharp and engaging, I loved the interaction between Cole and Eden and between Eden and Emmy. One thing I didn't feel believable though is that Emmy as a 6 year old, with not a lot of interaction with people in healthy relationships, seem to have too much insight regarding a relationship between her mom and Cole. (When you read it you'll see what I mean.)
The narration is also executed well by M. Makena and R. Wayne. I don't believe I have listened to either one of their narrations before but I think I will listen to more of Roger's. The performance were as they should be, neither one of them sounded too young nor too old. I believe, it is due to narration that I could imagine or internalize the characters and understand the subtext of their dialogue. The additional .5 star is for a well-written story, I understood the context without feeling like the author was holding my hand - the writing and dialogue was consistent and believable. I didn't read this book, I felt it.
So I subtracted half a star from perfect because, I don't think it's very realistic to believe that the happy ending is solid. Three people with PTSD need a lot more than each other to heal. I think that the HEA is fragile at this point so I think the ending is incomplete and abrupt. But I think it is rushed because of the alternate ending that leads to the next book.
Cliffhanger - 3.5 stars.
So all of the above but I am subtracting a half star from all the goodness because it is a cliffhanger. I'm sorry, it's one of my pet peeves - I NEVER buy a book that is not finished - I won't even look into it until all the books are out since I believe it is a waste of my time. The alternate ending is so out of context that I don't think it detracts from the book or the HEA. It is intriguing that I would like to read the second book (only when the third book is out, if there is one). But, I have reservations because I don't know how I would feel dragging these characters into more heartache. If this wasn't a Whispersync book, I probably wouldn't have wasted a credit on this (just because of the cliffhanger issue). That is how I loathe unfinished business, had I not known of the alternate HEA ending, I would not have even given this a chance.
I'm glad I did though because it was worth my time and then some.
- Mary-jane Hornoi