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Both Natalie and Alex have their own crosses to bear and take turns being the other person's anchor. But when Natalie tries to do that for Alex, it escalates and Natalie is heartbroken. I admired Natalie for standing up for herself and others. Her compassion and forgiveness runs deep and she demonstrates the kind of strength that is rock solid and resilient. I loved the angst, the emotion and the storyline. The characters were well portrayed. There were so many questions about Alex, some of which I could fill in the blanks easily, but I wasn't quite prepared for his full confession which surprised me on Natalie's behalf. I also enjoyed Natalie not falling vulnerable to his charms immediately the second time around. The ending was perfect for the characters but I am definitely glad there is a follow-up story because I do want to see a little bit more in terms of what's next for them.
There's a kind of simple beauty to prose like this. Where a profound statement can be expressed in twenty or so words. This book is full of moments like that; the kind I eat up with a spoon. Where the author is effortlessly smart about choosing a simple combination of words to create a deep moment or thought.
This romance is very realistic. It doesn't pull any emotional punches but sucks you in from the get-go, and treats its subject with honesty. I felt these characters could be real people and while I sometimes doubted how on earth the were going to find each other, I was captivated by the journey. I loved Nat as a heroine. Sweet but tough and not afraid to tell the boy who broke her heart that she's not going to stand for it again.
I love smart writing, and when you add it to emotional realism you get a winner.
--- Digging his fingernails in, he pulled me to the side and slammed my back against a cold brick wall, forcing all the air to pour out of my lungs in one long stream as I blinked furiously and took a peek at him... "Promise me you want this as much as I do. Tell me you're not just doing this for me." ---
Natexus is a story of life, love and destiny embroiled in a contentious comingling, filled with drama and turmoil and sprinkled with sex and liberal humor. You will be tormented and conflicted as events unfold, and you will feel ravaged from exposure to James' wicked and wickedly awesome storytelling, but you will also realize that although Natexus is exactly what it appears to be, it is so much more, the kind of more that will make you happy you read yet another love story. Do not hesitate; if you want a romance, read Natexus. If you want a love story that doesn't stop life in its tracks to let the fairy tale play out, read Natexus. If you want a story that explores life, the choices we make, and how perception and expectation affect us, read Natexus. If you want to feel, read Natexus. And prepare to experience a journey that will stay with you long after you've read the last word, because when Victoria L. James writes, you don't just read; you're moved and spellbound all at once.
--- "Never let the end of one thing stop you from enjoying the beginning of another." ---
Have you ever come across something and instantly fallen in love? Been completely enamored and blown away by the awe-inspiring display before you? That is exactly what happened when I discovered this author's words, and to this day, I continue to be taken aback by her work. To say that I'd been waiting for Victoria L James' next release is an understatement; I yearned for it, stalked it, and mourned its seeming eternity in the making, even though the wait wasn't long at all (this is her fourth release in a little over a year; the others: Izzy Moffit's Road to Wonderland, Without Consequence Babylon Book 1, Without Mercy Babylon Book 2). But as James puts it, "All of us are addicted to something. All of us are capable of becoming mad men. What separates us is our triggers.", and the glorious beauty of her words triggered within me a sweet addiction that I only occasionally dramatically lament but always genuinely celebrate. Despite high hopes, I didn't know what to expect going in to this New Adult read, except the unexpected given James' record of thrilling storytelling that keeps you on your toes through a grueling bout of emotional aerobics. I was not let down in the slightest, and even if the wait had been eons longer, Natexus would have been well worth it.
--- I watched him, watching me like I was some kind of special. "Are you a good thing, Alex?" He leaned forward, his own grin growing wider as his eyes searched mine. "I'm the best you'll ever have." ---
Natexus is a story about romantic love, that once in a lifetime fated love that becomes the very air you breathe and the life-sustaining blood pumping through your veins; it's about the kind of love that shows you life in technicolor and awakens your senses, teaching you what it really means to be alive. And within this powerful account of romantic love, there are also stories of friendship, family, survival, guilt, healing, forgiveness, regret and second chances, wrapped up in self-discovery milestones, coming of age angst and heartrending conflict that will make you want to tear your hair out as you perch on the edge of your seat, and just plain living of this thing we call life. Victoria L. James has delivered a downright masterpiece of blistering evocation, woven together with extraordinarily resplendent prose and spectacular insight. Natexus will burn a hole in your soul and then carefully, tenderly mend it, only to have the demented pleasure of setting you ablaze again. When you settle in to read this book, you should definitely prepare to be overtaken. You should definitely have a healthy supply of tissue, liquids (to replenish the tear-induced dehydration), pain reliever (for the mental-turned-physical upheaval), and both coping and comforting entities (no, really, this woman is a puppet master of emotion). But as was the case with the wait, the preparations and the inevitable mental mayhem that you will experience are well worth the gift that is Natexus.
--- The truth was and always would be that as soon as he and I were skin against skin, I was home again. ---
When the story opens, Natalie and her family are suspended in torment as they await a loved one's impending death. We're not told much about the experience, but it's clear that the battle has long been waged and decided, and the Vincents' only option is to prepare for the realization of a loss from which they can never recover. Natalie is out, at her family and friends' behest, being a normal teenager in Leeds. But before she can bring the night to the early end her heart and attention demand, her life is forever changed. She meets someone who instantly slips beneath her defenses and distraction just as her loved one slips through her fingers. It's a bit like that wonderful scene you may have seen in films, where just as one life ends, another begins, the loss made a bit more tolerable with the joy and hope of new life ushered in. But as we follow Natalie from that point forward, we see thatNatexus' take on this scene is far from simple.
--- But Alexander had come along out of nowhere... Like he was hope itself. ---
Enter Alexander Law (side note: Does that name not do wonderful things to you?). Out of nowhere, the teenage hotness introduces himself to Natalie, eventually becoming a fixture in her life, everything she needs and wants and never even imagined having. He's charming, clever and assertive, but what make him truly irresistible are his refreshing straightforwardness and uncanny ability to truly see the soul hidden beyond Natalie's walls. Add in his tenderness and unwavering support in guiding Natalie through her grief, and Alexander Law practically glitters. But this beautiful boy with a caring heart, selfless spirit and protective instinct has secrets of his own, afflicted with shame and fear from the darkness of ugly, unforgiving burdens that infest his life. There is no doubt that Alex plays the overt role of savior, but the light that Natalie brings to his world is a relief that is no less significant.
--- You're a wolf?" I asked, raising a brow. "It's in my DNA." ---
There is just no way that you will not fall in love with Alex, and despite his exhaustive list of attributes, it's his imperfections that make him perfect. He has the best of intentions, for everyone, but some of his actions and the wreckage left in their wake will make you want to strangle him before you forgive him for not being more than the exceptional boy he manages to be and the flawed yet admirable man he becomes.
--- Who wanted to sink to the bottom of the ocean with the weight of their thoughts, when closing your eyes and allowing yourself to float on the surface made each day seem so much more peaceful?" ---
When we meet Natalie Vincent, she is a shy teenager whose charmed life has not shielded her from harsh realities, and it's immediately evident how torn she is, caught between doing what is expected of her and allowing herself to feel and be what her spirit dictates. Living in a bubble of her own making, she has no idea who she is, what she wants or what she is capable of, and after her loss, she becomes even more aimless and trapped in a despairing loneliness that is understandable but also tragic. I don't think she ever fully realizes how remarkable she is, even in the moments when she's displaying her compassion, bravery, strength, intuition and maturity. I generally have only one requirement for any character--that the author make me believe every ounce of their characterization. But with Natalie, oh my dear Natalie Vincent, I didn't just believe; I struggled against the inexorable connection to her that threatened to ruin me, fighting what she was clearly exposing to me about herself and life that hit so close to the heart of me that my own bubble of self-preservation erected around me not just in a bid to protect my poor heart but also to hold me together. It's that rare and wonderful but also sometimes painful experience when the depiction of a character or some part of the story latches so tightly onto your being that you can scarcely breathe and you have to step away, step out of the room, even, to put distance between you and the sudden transcendence of the words on the pages, because the profundity sits heavily in your chest like a pulsing weight, each beat of your heart a stirring reminder of the connection that refuses to loosen its hold on the very essence of who you are. <-- I hope that sounds as dramatic as it seems, because if it does then you may understand a modicum of the magnitude of feeling you will do while reading this story. We all have our own unique experiences in life, but Natalie Vincent is exquisitely crafted as the perfect heroine to lead you through adolescence and adulthood, this young woman whose impact will resonate with the child you were, the adult you are, who you've wished you could be or who you hope to become. Or maybe that will happen for you with one of the other characters, because James doesn't ignore the characters and events in the periphery; she expertly uses them to support the myriad experiences and lessons taking place over the course of the story, every aspect meticulously building upon another, every interaction so darn precise and intricate that they pierce your heart even in recollection. Everyone, from Natalie's friends to her precious family, is fully, dynamically imagined, with some who will endear you and others you will frankly want to pummel into the ground. Natexus is indeed be a sob-fest, but it is also uplifting and amusing and smart, even light at the right times, as Victoria L. James does an immaculate job of carrying you from one moment to the next without a single gaffe in the fluidity of her depictions.
--- I should have known I was never in charge of my destiny at all. ---
As the story progresses, we learn there's much more to these characters, and as discoveries are made, the unshakeable foundation that fate set for Nat and Alex begins to tremble, rocked by life's unrelenting strokes, until we realize that nothing is for certain at all, including the seeming burgeoning fairy tale of first love everlasting. Two souls, traveling through life under a veil of darkness due to circumstances outside their control, living as best as they can but never quite finding the light until they find each other. A boy and girl who finally have a chance to be happy and free and whole through their seemingly destined union. Nat and Alex's road is never easy, because no matter how magical a bubble love creates, there are forces strong enough to break through, and sometimes those forces pierce from the inside out.
--- Nodding as I watched him, I began to understand just exactly what it was I had to do. Emotional suicide. It was him or me, and I wasn’t prepared to let it be him because of my actions.---
The end of Natalie's already fractured fairy tale should have been expected, and I suppose it was, yet its playing out still took me by surprise. From one moment to the next, I didn't know where the story would take me or whether or not these young lovers would make it through the forces against them, and when they were apart, I alternated between wanting them reunited without delay--because their story was not yet over--and needing to see Natalie figure life out for herself, live for herself, shed the skin of seasons past that made her even less inclined to honor her beautiful heart. During Natalie's more difficult times, I raged at her to be her own light and savior, and I cursed James for her brand of love story that made Alex the catalyst that both brought my Natalie to life and shattered her. I could not abide her being wounded and suffering without end, without her ever finding a way to claim her life, without the realization of the love story of this girl who never got around to knowing and loving herself. We all have our own beliefs about love and what it means. Some of us believe there's another person who's meant to complete us. Some of us believe we need to be whole and that person who is meant for us simply makes us better. And yet still others of us believe there's more than one opportunity and person we are meant to love with our whole hearts. Whatever your belief, there's no denying that love, in all its power and majesty, through good times and bad, is everything in this life. And whatever your belief, once you've met the parties involved, you won't be able to deny the entrancing and complicated beauty that is Natexus.
We watch an adult Natalie navigate life after the loss of arguably the second of the two most formative people in her life, her bubble now re-formed, this time with impenetrable walls to protect her all too knowing mind and fragmented heart.
--- He loved me. And I loved him, too, despite the dents in my heart that sometimes made it awkward for him to get comfortable in there. ---
She has a life--family, friends, work, a boyfriend--but she is not living; she is merely pretending, smiling and speaking and reacting in all the right places, a ghost of that brilliant girl who sparkled in the company of the boy who showed her all the gorgeous things inside herself and in the world. James' portrayal of this experience is shatteringly spot on, and if you've ever had the misfortune of going through any version of this then there is no doubt in my mind that you will agree, but even if you've blessedly not experienced this you will ache with an intensity that becomes physical as you watch Natalie stricken at a crossroad, heartbreakingly torn between safe existence and the unpredictability of living. James is gifted not only with the ability to write beautifully, but also with the ability to write every single experience of every single character with such perfect clarity and a seeming intrinsic perceptual authenticity that you easily think she has experienced what she's written.
--- And there he was. In front of me again. Smiling that smile. Flashing those eyes. Dragging me back to weakness all over again. ---
Natalie and Alex are separated for years, and their reunion is agonizing in its complexity and torturous uncertainty. We learn more about the circumstances of their teenage relationship's demise, and although this is again a situation where the answers seem easy, James (maddeningly) does not provide quick or unthinking relief. The feelings between this couple are still strong, but now there are other people and obstacles involved in their lives. Our heroine is no longer the same hesitant yet open girl whose belief in goodness and love made her brave. She knows what it's like to have everything, and she knows what it's like to lose everything. She knows what it's like to love and be loved without hurt or complication, and even if the love of her first love was her greatest love of all, the fear and doubt etched into her being by the past combine with her ever-present struggle between pleasing herself and pleasing others to create a conflict that is wonderfully explored beyond meaningless angst. There were many times I whined, grumbling reassurances and wanting to shake (and slap) sense into the characters, most especially Natalie. How easy it is, in the context of fiction or on the outside looking in in reality, to know what the right thing to do is. How easy it is to become frustrated with Natalie, and Alex even, over their choices and actions. But how many of us can say we've always made the most sound decisions? And how many of us have endured a life of tumult and always, without fail, pressed on as though never marked? As much as I absolutely knew how I wanted this story to end, and as much as I absolutely wanted Natalie to chase her own happiness and fulfillment at all costs, boy did I understand her battle. Sometimes being strong means simply surviving until you can catch your breath.
Read Natexus. Be consumed. You won't regret it.
Most recent customer reviews
Torn. Speechless. Confused. That’s how I felt when I ended this story.Read more
Natexus called my attention while browsing Amazon trying to find something different to read in the romance genre.Read more
It's not often a book comes along and burrows so deep into your soul that it pulls every emotion possible...Read more