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Now, after the 40% mark, Carson and Grace initially part ways, and it seemed like we started a new book. I like how both Carson and Grace have impacted one another in such a short time that they both decide to make a few changes. I think some people can truly impact each other in this manner, so I found all of this to be quite endearing. We see a few key happenings in Carson and Grace's lives until we see them almost 5-years later when they are reunited unexpectedly, and both are now living in Vegas.
I enjoyed the story behind their reunion, how all of that unfolds, and we see that Carson has become the person he wanted to be, rather than the person he thought he was destined to be. Grace is also happy, and it turns out their jobs are responsible for bringing them together again.
This was a sweet story, overall, and as I already mentioned, I enjoyed it, but just wasn't blown away by it. I really liked the Leo books, and will most definitely be picking up Archer eventually. Entertaining and very well written for the most part when compared to other indie books. I think one reason I wasn't wowed by this was because I did feel a few of the pivotal props in the book were familiar, as well as part of the story line in the first part of the book. I think if an elevator, sunrises, and a charm bracelet would have been avoided, I would have found it to be a bit more original. I think the author did a good job of taking these props and trying to make them her own within the story, but I think these things are so familiar to fans of FSoG, that it is impossible to use them within a story and not have a reader think of the very popular book they read that used these same props and left an endelible mark in our mind's eyes. Just my opinion.
It hit me a couple of days after I originally posted this review why this story didn't quite wow me. I think it was a lofty goal to take someone who starts out as a porn star, who has little regard for himself, and turn him into this very noble person who risks life an limb to squelch the sex trafficking in the US, specifically Vegas. For the most part, I think the author was successful, because we saw there really was a caring soul under Carson's mask when we originally met him. And quite honestly, I truly do not believe porn stars are horrible people. Where I think it went off the rails a bit for me was that it became a bit too deep and preachy compared to the rest of the book? I am not sure I can really explain what I mean precisely. I think the scene with Grace in the hotel room on the 45th floor toward the end was what pushed it into that preachy territory for me. I could have done without that entire scene, honestly. I think it is great to bring topics that are newsworthy into books, and I have enjoyed stories where characters battle mental illness or other such subject, it really can go a bit overboard or not sound believable. Plus, it can sometimes seem a bit heavy of a subject compared to the tone of the rest of the book. That is something else, I mean, I would say the part of the book where Carson and Grace first meet is flirty and light hearted, whereas the rest of the book turns a bit more serious, and I am not sure I was enjoying the darker subject amongst the light hearted nature of Carson and Grace's relationship. Because, their lightness, banter and playfulness didn't darken or get more serious, really, even if the plot did. Hope this makes sense to those of you who have read it.
So what do you do when a weekend in SIN CITY results in not just having a good time, but in being the catalyst for a series of cataclysmic events that forever alter your life and put you on a path of self-discovery, reflection, respect, forgiveness, understanding and, ultimately, love? Well, you try your best to live it, even when you cannot seem to fully enjoy it because you aren't sharing it with the one person who made it all possible.
An unlikely situation
An accidental sing-a-long
A brief kiss
A dime for your thoughts
A series of confessions
An offer that can't be refused
An abrupt exit
A brief reconsideration
A nervous throwing of caution to the wind
A decision to step outside of the norm
A deviation of a well-laid plan
A weekend of firsts
A long hike
A peaceful sunrise
A sad realization
And a goodbye
This story of two unlikely lovers pulls you in with intrigue from the moment Grace arrives in Vegas meeting Carson, a man who is the polar opposite of her, and keeps you captivated through an entire weekend of exploration and discovery.
Jealously, hot dogs, Titanic, 80s songs, dimes, dunks, confessions, realizations, hiking, sunsets, a friendship, a connection and a love are shared and lead these two individuals to learn more about themselves through the eyes of someone else.
But they part and the two are now forced to face their lives with these new found feelings and revelations. What do they do? They go back to the daily "grind," so to speak, and hope they can "perform" in all things that are expected of them. But they soon realize that what used to be their daily norm is now the one thing they no longer want or even know anymore and, well, they make a sharp turn in a new direction and follow a new path.
Time ticks on and both are living their lives apart yet together. Each carries the other with them in some way because the life they are living is a constant reminder of the person who showed them how to be the very best version of themselves. It is never "out of sight out of mind," but always "absence makes the heart grow fonder." These two could never truly remove the other from their thoughts, their hearts or their lives because each one of them had the other etched into the very fabric of their being; their new being...the very improved version of themselves that not only is what they truly wanted, but all that they saw in each other.
So, they moved on...plunging into a future as the new versions of themselves. And just like that fickle finger of fate, they find themselves coming full circle and back where it all began and, in true DESTINY fashion, their paths cross again in a way that entwines their NEW SELVES to each other once again.
Their paths cross
They have a moment
A request is made
A kiss is shared
A quick escape is necessary
An impromptu visit is received
They share another moment - more intense than the last
A truth is revealed
A decision made
And FINALLY there is room on that "raft"
This is a book where the world doesn't look at you as one person, but when one person truly looks at you as the world. A world full of hope, dreams, possibilities, positivity, change and, most of all, love. Each character brings out the best parts of the other, showing them a world of options that they never once thought they could have for themselves, or maybe thought they weren't capable of attempting to achieve.
This book took us from a fun weekend fling, to a heartbreaking goodbye, to a wake-up call, to a drastic change, then to a life of proving who and what you are not just to yourself, but subconsciously to and for the ONE person who helped you see that it was never too late to be everything you were born to be.
The paths chosen by both Grace and Carson makes their decisions heartfelt and believable, because choosing to behave differently would equate to nothing more than going back to what they chose to leave behind. It also solidified what it was that changed for them in that hotel in Vegas those many years ago.
The author took great care to methodically weave the nuances of these characters and their time together into a life without each other. This made their coming together again intense, explosive, cataclysmic and, ultimately, GAME CHANGING.
This story was so perfectly entwined together that it reflected and equated to the sentimental warmth and comfort of that very special blanket hand crafted and crocheted by your grandmother. That one thing that every time you see it, hold it or are wrapped up in it, it brings back those warm memories that make you smile, cry, laugh, remember and wish. I cannot express enough how perfectly suited these characters were for each other, and how perfectly executed their path was to ultimate acceptance, redemption and love.
Just like Rome wasn't built in a day, neither are other things of perfection, and this is a love that is truly perfection; maybe not for others, but definitely perfect for these characters. And while the author leaves us hanging for some time allowing an air of mystery to linger regarding a question always asked and an answer always avoided, the moment of the reveal is so touching that you can do nothing else but smile when you see just how real, personal and heartfelt what was shared truly was and just how important and necessary it was for Carson to always carry Grace with him. It is in that very moment that you realize the profound effect that each of these characters truly had on each other and just how powerful it was all those many years ago why they held on so strongly to those memories.
Grace was Carson's life raft...always keeping him afloat...and he was her backbone...showing her the very drive and strength she had in herself to live her life for herself and not with the cushion of the dependency of others. It is in that moment that it becomes real and they realize that not only had they "never let go," but couldn't let go because you can never be apart from the one thing that has made you COME ALIVE without feeling dead inside. *sighs* A rollercoaster of revelations and emotions and worth every single bit of it because the payoff is GRAND and the ending is truly warm and fitting.
This author continues to DAZZLE on all fronts, and her beautiful writing and spot on delivery and consistency of behavior and development make this another fabulous read. She takes such great care to stay true to her plot, her characters and her vision for their entire journey that you have no other choice but to be completely consumed by it...so much so you find yourself not only rooting for them, but feeling every emotion because you become so engrossed and in love with them that you just want them to be happy. Her talent as a writer continues to blow me away with how well rounded, funny and detailed it is. She will make you cry with her words just as quickly as she can make you laugh with her wit.
Truly a worthy read and a 5 star one at that.