The Year I Left by Christine Brae

The Year I Left by [Brae, Christine]

3 Stars

Publisher: Vesuvian Books

Date of publication: August 20th, 2019

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Where you can find The Year I Left: Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

Carin Frost doesn’t understand what’s happening to her. A confident businesswoman, wife, and mother, she begins to resent everything about her life. Nothing makes sense. Nothing makes her feel. Maybe it’s the recent loss of her mother in a tragic accident. Or maybe she’s just losing her mind. 

Enter Matias Torres. As their new business partnership thrives, so does their friendship—and his interest in her. Carin is determined to keep her distance, until a work assignment sends them to Southeast Asia where a storm is brewing on the island. In the midst of the chaos, Matias asks her to do something unimaginable, exhilarating, BOLD. Carin knows the consequences could be dire, but it may be the only way to save herself. 

An honest look at love and marriage and the frailties of the human heart, this is a story of a woman’s loss of self and purpose and the journey she takes to find her way back.

First Line

Sometime in the late summer when the air began to tingle and the leaves started to fall, I opened my eyes one morning and my view of the world changed.

The Year I Left by Christine Brae

When I read the blurb for The Year I Left, I was intrigued. A woman suffering from the loss of her mother meets a younger man who sweeps her off her feet. That meeting sets off a series of events that turn her world upside down. That made me go “Hrmmm” and decide to read the book.

I was disappointed by The Year I Left. The book did deliver on what the blurb promised. But, it was the characters that didn’t do it for me.

I did enjoy how The Year I Left was written. It was told in 2nd person and 1st person. I have read a few books where 2nd person was used successfully. The Year I Left was one of those books. Carin’s story was written as journal entries to Matias for the year they spent together. The 1st person part of the book was told from Matias’s point of view after that year had ended. It made The Year I Left a compelling read for me.

Along with how the book was written, I did like the plotline. It was simple and to the point. The author didn’t add drama to spice the plotline up. What Carin and Matias did was enough.

The author was able to keep the plotline’s pace for the entire book. There was no lag or slowing down of plotline. There were a few minor plotlines that were merged into the main plotline throughout the book.

As much as I saw promise and like the plotline, I couldn’t stand the main characters. Unfortunately, that colored my perspective of the book.

Let’s start with Carin. I could not stand her. I understand that her mother’s death and then her dog’s death a few months later scarred her mentally. I could understand her falling into a deep depression. Heck, I could even understand her not paying her bills and ruining her credit. But what I couldn’t understand is how she checked out on her son and husband. The scenes she had with them, she barely interacted with them. When Matias came into the scene, she was all about him. When he showed up on Carin’s mother/son trip to England, she ignored her son and showered Matias with her attention. When she decided to disappear with Matias, she didn’t think about how it would affect her son. As a mother, it made me sick.

I couldn’t stand Matias either. He knew that Carin was married and he still pursued her. If it were only that, I would have been OK with him. But he border lined stalked her. He texted and called her nonstop. Even after she asked him to stop. But it was when they decided to disappear that my annoyance with him morphed into dislike. He could see how much Carin missed her son. Instead of being compassionate and urging her to contact him, he threw a fit like a toddler. I also forgot to mention that he cheated on his fiancee with Carin. All that stuff together made me not like him.

The end of the book was interesting. But, because of what I thought about Matias and Carin, I couldn’t enjoy it. Matias also started acting like he did at the beginning of the book. Again, strong stalker vibes going on. Also, the epilogue didn’t do it for me. I didn’t believe it.

I would give The Year I Left an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I don’t know if I would reread The Year I Left. I do not know if I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Realm by Alexandrea Weis

Realm by [Weis, Alexandrea]

3.5 Stars

Publisher: Vesuvian Books

Date of publication: May 14th, 2019

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction

Where you can find Realm: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookBub

Book synopsis:

Based on a true story.

When her homeland is conquered by the mighty Alexander the Great, Roxana—the daughter of a mere chieftain—is torn from her simple life and thrown into a world of war and intrigue.

Terrified, the sixteen-year-old girl of renowned beauty is brought before the greatest ruler the world has ever known. Her life is in his hands; her future his to decide.

Without formal education or noble blood, Roxana is chosen by the Greek conqueror to be his bride. Soon she comes to know profound happiness and unyielding desire in her warrior’s arms.

However, being the king’s consort comes at a heavy price. To survive her husband’s treacherous kingdom, she must endure continuous warfare, deadly plots, jealous rivals, victory-hungry generals, and the stigma of being a barbarian. Persian blood will keep her from claiming the grandest title of all—queen—but her reign will seal the fate of an empire.

History tells his story. This is hers.

My Review:

When I read the blurb for Realm, I was intrigued. Like everyone else, I have heard of Alexander the Great. I have watched movies made about his life. I have read books about his exploits. But I had never heard of Roxana. There were mentions of a beautiful Persian princess, but no details were given. So, when I read that this book was about that mysterious Persian princess, I needed to read the book. I am glad that I read it because I got an insight into what being a woman was like back in those times. I also got a great insight into what being the wife and consort of Alexander the Great was like too.

Realm was hard to read at times. I am not a shrinking violet when it comes to violence, but I couldn’t get past certain scenes. An example would be Roxana witnessing the execution of some of Alexander’s troops. I was disgusted by the description. I will never be able to look at elephants feet the same way again.

I did like Roxana at first. I liked how she handled Alexander from the moment she met him. She wasn’t afraid to back down. But, after he died, her spirit dimmed. She wasn’t outspoken enough, in my eyes. I mean, she was being used as a political pawn. All because she was the mother of Alexander’s child. She did regain some of her fire in the middle of the book. Only to lose it at the end. I was disappointed by that. I would have loved to see her fire present the entire book.

I liked how Alexander and Roxana’s relationship was allowed to go at its own pace. There was no Instalove, well at least on Roxana’s part. It took her a long time to develop feelings for Alexander.

I know that many marriages were common back in those days. I loved how the author chose to portray Roxana’s reaction to it. Loved it!!

Once Alexander died, the book became confusing and boring for me to read. I know that the author was following timelines and real events but still. It became a dry read for me. There were only so many assassinations, murders, and generals out for themselves that I could take. But, it did illustrate how trapped Roxana was. I couldn’t even imagine living as she did. After her son was born, she was on the run for seven years. I can’t even imagine doing that.

The end of Realm broke my heart. I knew what was going to happen and was hoping so bad that the author would put her spin on things. Of course, it didn’t happen, and my heart broke into tiny little pieces.

I would give Realm an Adult rating. There is sex. There is violence. There is no language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Realm. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Eight Goodbyes by Christine Brae

4 Stars

Publisher: Vesuvian Books

Date of publication: August 28th, 2018

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Where you can find Eight Goodbyes: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

One universe, nine planets, 204 countries, 809 islands, and 7 seas. And I had the privilege of meeting you.” – Unknown

When Tessa Talman meets Simon Fremont for the first time, not only is she attracted to him, she’s intrigued by how different their lives are. He’s a dedicated scientist, practical, pragmatic, and grounded—while she’s a head-in-the-clouds romance author. As their relationship grows, they agree to meet in places around the world, while continuing to live on opposite sides of the globe.

Though their feelings for each other deepen, their priorities remain the same. Simon is in a hurry to be financially sound and settle down, but Tessa is enjoying her freedom and newfound success. Neither is willing to give in, but as each goodbye gets harder, Tessa begins to wonder whether fame is the path to happiness, or if she has everything she needs in Simon.

Just as Tessa finds the courage to go after her own happily ever after, the unthinkable happens, separating them in ways they never imagined. 

To move forward, she must let go of the past, and determine once and for all if love is truly more powerful than the pain of goodbye.

My review:

I was iffy for a while with Eight Goodbyes. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. The way it was written definitely added to my first feelings about it. Let me explain. The book is broken up into two halves. In each half, the book is further broken up into sections. Those sections are labeled “First Goodbye, Second Goodbye, and so on“. Within the section, the storyline goes between Tessa and Simon. Like I said, it was a bit confusing for me to read at first because (for example), Tessa’s part of the book would end and Simon’s would pick up. No letting me, the reader, know that there was going to be a switch. It just happened. To be honest, that is a huge pet peeve of mine in books.  But, as the book went on, I started liking how the POV’s changed without notice. Which is the first and only time you will read me putting this down.

Eight Goodbyes is Tessa and Simon’s love story. Meeting on an airplane, Tessa and Simon enter a very unconventional relationship. For most of the first half of the book, Tessa is uncertain if she wants to be with Simon. Simon, however, is head over heels in love with Tessa and would do anything to be with her. Tessa soon realizes that Simon is hers and she is willing to have her happily ever after. But a tragedy separates them for 3 years. A chance phone call from Simon makes Tessa realize that some things are worth fighting for. Will she fight for her love? Or will she let it slip through her fingers?

I am going to be blunt here. I didn’t like Tessa for 90% of the book. Did I pity her? Yes, she had an awful backstory. But I didn’t like her. I thought the way that she treated Simon was horrible. Example: She invites him to Las Vegas. He shows and she blows him off to sleep with her male model. Then tries to rationalize it to Simon when he confronts her. This same pattern went on until Greece (minus the sleeping with her male model). I wanted to throttle her. Here Simon is, offering her his heart, and she is stomping all over it. But, the author did something that I didn’t expect. She made Tessa grow up in the 2nd half of the book. She was damaged but she was mature. There was a point where Tessa is looking at old pictures and realizes how immature she was. She also realizes how badly she treated Simon. By the end of the book, my dislike for her turned into respect. Not a lot of woman would stick around when Simon revealed certain things.

While I liked Simon, I thought he was a pushover in the first half of the book. There were points where I wanted to shake him and say “Dude, you had a nice girl in Maxine. Go back to her“. Instead, I had to read while he is being left out of important things that are going on in Tessa’s life. When Tessa agreed to marry him, I did wait for the other shoe to drop. Sadly, it did with horrible consequences. When he was reintroduced in the 2nd half of the book, I was shocked by what happened to him. I also felt bad for him when Tessa broke her “surprise” to him. I was expecting him to tell her to go take a hike after that. I know I would have.

The chemistry between Simon and Tessa was there. Even though Tessa was a jerk, it didn’t mean that they had sparks. They did. The chemistry was red hot. Sparks flew when they got together.

The sex scenes were perfect. They weren’t too explicit but were explicit enough to know what was going on. I wouldn’t describe them as red-hot but they were close.

The secondary characters were the backbone of this book. They added a depth to the storyline that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

The second half of the book was a heart-tugger for sure. I have to hand it to the author, she knew how to turn a character around.

The end of the book made me cry. Not going to say why but it struck a nerve with me. I loved how all the secondary storylines were resolved and tied into the main storyline. I liked the little twist that she threw in at the beginning of the second half of the book. I wasn’t expecting it!!

What I liked about Eight Goodbyes:

A) Tessa at the end of the book

B) The chemistry between Simon and Tessa

C) Simon.

What I disliked about Eight Goodbyes:

A) The book was confusing to read at first

B) Tessa at the beginning of the book

C) Simon’s reaction to Tessa’s news.

I gave Eight Goodbyes a 4-star review. This was a good romance. The characters might not have been likable but the author showed that people could change. I did find the book confusing to read in the beginning. Also, Tessa was not a favorite of mine. But the book evened out and I ended up enjoying the book.

I gave Eight Goodbyes an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Eight Goodbyes. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank Vesuvian Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Eight Goodbyes.

All opinions stated in this review of Eight Goodbyes are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**