From the New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March comes a gripping, poignant novel about the kind of love that never lets go, and the heart's capacity to remember.
While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.
When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt "right." But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants.
Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she's willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 7th 2017 by Ballantine Books
Three and a half stars: A lovely second chance romance set against the rainy backdrop of Seattle. Loved the issues and the story, but it suffered from plot holes and lack of development.
Kailey Crane is grateful that she finally found a second chance at love. Her career as a writer is going well and things are perfect. That all changes one night as Kailey enjoys a lovely dinner with her fiancé. Upon leaving the restaurant, Kailey bumps into her college boyfriend, whom she hasn't seen in over ten years. Kailey believed that Cade was the one, and she was preparing to spend her life with him until he vanished without a trace. Now Kailey comes face to face with Cade again, but he isn't himself. He is homeless and he doesn't remember her. Kailey feels compelled to help. What happened to Cade?
What I Liked:
- Always is a tough book for me to review. I found myself swept away by the story, I loved the setting and the nostalgic music references, and I appreciated that the author took on Traumatic Brain Injury and homelessness. This is a book that I loved up until the rather hasty ending. Still if you want a nice book to get lost in, try this one.
- This book features a second chance romance that is told in 1997 and 2008. I loved going back in time and watching Cade and Kailey fall in love in the late nineties in Seattle. The music and the setting enhanced the story. Then the story moves forward in time as Kailey is faced with helping Cade who is homeless and suffering from a brain injury. I won't go into the details, but I loved seeing the relationship unfold both past and present. It was lovely.
- I loved the setting. This book is set in Seattle back in 1997 and 2008. I grew nostalgic as the author shared popular music from the time that was based in Seattle. I thought she did an excellent job of bringing Seattle to life. Loved it!
- I applaud Ms. Jio for painting homelessness in a different light. Many people assume that people are on the street because of bad choices, addiction and so forth. Ms. Jio shows that not everyone is on the street for those reasons. It made me pause and consider the homeless problem in a whole new light. I also appreciated that she called attention to Traumatic Brain Injury.
- The book ends in a nice place. Even though I had some issues with lack of development and some plot holes, I was pleased with how it settled out.
And The Not So Much:
- The romance was troubling. I easily understood Kailey's position and her dilemma, but I hated the way she treated Ryan. Ryan was such a stand up guy, patient, loving and understanding beyond expectation. I hated that Kailey kept things from him and that she wasn't honest. He didn't deserve that. I wanted better for him.
- The story builds to the point where Cade disappears, and then there are some revelations about what happened to Cade. I wasn't satisfied with the answers. I was bothered by the fact that too many things were left undone. For instance, what was going on with Cade back in 1997 that caused he and Kailey to have conflict? You get some hints, but it isn't clear. Was he really on drugs? Then who signed him out of the hospital? Why? I was disappointed that the story line involving the investigation into Cade's past was abandoned. I wanted to know more. James' part in the story isn't clear either. This is a minor niggle, but at the end, I wanted to know what happened to Kailey's dog.
- I found myself swept away by the story, but I struggled with the hurried ending and the lack of development. It felt like it jumped forward quickly to get to the happy ending. There was a lot left undone.
Always is a hard book for me to review. I really enjoyed the story, the setting and the romance, but I was bothered by the lack of development, unanswered questions and there was a bit of a love triangle. Still, I loved that the story took me back in time to Seattle in the late nineties. I also appreciated that the author took on Traumatic Brain Injury and homelessness. I did enjoy the book, I just wish that the ending was better developed.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.