Monday, March 07, 2011

Recent Read

The Last Goodbye by Sarah Mayberry

Why this one: I’m not exactly sure how Sarah Mayberry came onto my radar, but she did and I’ve really enjoyed all the books by her I’ve read. She has become an autobuy author whose new releases I really anticipate.

Steam Level: Pretty much perfect

Blurb: Ally Bishop knows the settling kind when she sees one. And Tyler Adamson is definitely one. Ordinarily this never-in-one-place-long girl would stay far, far away. Maybe it's the way he looks in jeans, or the way he looks at her, but suddenly Ally is breaking her own rules with dizzying speed. All that Australian temptation right next door, well, there's only so much resistance one girl can have.

As she dives into a fling with Tyler, Ally assures herself she can maintain perspective. After all, he's only here long enough to care for his ailing father. That gives them a time limit, right? With each passing day, however, she falls for Tyler more. And soon she has the strongest urge to unpack her suitcase and stay a while.

My thoughts: I’ll have to investigate further, but a big thank you to the person or people who clued me into this author. This book really ‘got’ to me. It’s not often I want to cry at the end of a book but I did with this one – and that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s because I’m close to the subject matter with my own experience and the fact that I work in the palliative care department in my place of employment. Last week, while I was reading this book, a few cases hit home, one in particular, when I was speaking to the wife and connected with, and for the first time I told her a bit of my own history. I got a call from the nurse on Friday that her husband passed away early that morning.

Although without question a romance, the real power of this book for me, was how very brave the hero was. Tyler Adamson had a horrific childhood. His father abused him, emotionally and physically, and his mother never stood up for Tyler and his brother. So when his father’s next door temporary neighbor, Ally Bishop tracks him down to inform Tyler his father is dying of cancer, Tyler doesn’t want to have anything to do with the situation. And who could blame him? Speaking from experience, being a caregiver to someone who is dying is a death in itself. And when there is a history of systematic abuse of the kind the hero suffered, well, I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like. But rather than ignore the situation, which would have been so much easier, Tyler, travels back home to make that final visit with his father. But it didn’t turn out to be that simple. His father wanted to die at home and despite his natural inclination, Tyler sets things in motion to be there for his father in his final days.

But this book is so realistic in that there isn’t a sudden end time epiphany on his father’s behalf. His father was cruel to Tyler all his life and he remains cruel even as he is living out his last bit of time. And that is what this book is about for me. Tyler sticks. It isn’t easy for him. Ally is his lifeline and therein is the romance. Ally is someone who grew up rootless. Her mother, a self-absorbed artist who was only concerned about herself, moved Ally around her entire childhood. As a result, Ally has created a homeless life as an adult. She works as an advice columnist but she also house sits; going from different house to different house with no roots whatsoever planted.

So while she has ever growing feelings for Tyler and respects the hell out of him, she’s also freaking out at the same time; worried that he will want something permanent when his father dies and he heads back to his normal life. She also is a heroine I really, really enjoyed. She’s supportive, compassionate, upbeat; everything Tyler needs.

Both these characters had real crappy upbringings and it shaped who they became as adults. To see these two wounded souls find and bond to each other, I found very moving, especially in light of what Tyler was going through, living with, coping with and helping with a monster from his childhood.

It’s weird to call a book beautiful, but that’s what I found this one. It’s so true to life. Impending death can bring out the best or the worst and this book exemplifies that.

I don’t want anyone to think they can’t read this one because it’s sad. That’s not the case at all. It’s a romance and a very good one. But because of personal experience, for me, it’s also very real. Even now, while writing this review, I find myself savouring it. Harlequins have such a short shelf life, but this one came out in February so shouldn’t be too hard to find. I highly recommend it. Others probably won’t have quite the emotional connection I had, but it’s still a very, very good book.

Grade: 5 out of 5


Jan said...

Great review. I finished this book last week and had a reaction similar to yours. Sarah Mayberry is also an autobuy author for me. I liked the romance, but also really liked that she didn't trivialize the abuse Tyler suffered by sugarcoating it or suddenly changing his father.

sonomalass said...

I keep meaning to read Sarah Mayberry; I know Jane at Dear Author has recommended her books. I will wander over to the Harlequin site later and put this in my cart. Thanks!

Kristie (J) said...

Jan: That's one of the best things about this book. How many times do we read a book and at the end everything just turns out hunky dory; all bitterness and anger forgotten and forgiven in a Hallmark moment. Well, real life doesn't work that way and I really appreciated that the author made it real.

Sonomalass: I think Jane DID have quite an influence on me trying my first book by her. I did look back and the first Mayberry book I read was She's Got it Bad and while I enjoyed it - I gave it a 4.75, The Last Goodbye really touched me. I don't think you will be disappointed in this one at all so I'm quite confident if you say you're going to get it based on my review. I very rarely say that - heh, heh, heh.

orannia said...

Fantastic review Kristie. I think I should read this book. It might be a very hard read, but...well worth it.

Leslie said...

Great review Kristie. Mayberry is an auto-buy for me too. Love what she can do with the shorter format.

I've got this one on the TBR pile and really must get to it soon. :)

Kristie (J) said...

Orannia: I don't think it would be a hard read for most people - emotional yes. But I think I really bring my experiences into it so it affected me more than many a book.

Leslie: Oh yes, do give it a read. I'd love to see what you think of it.

Tabitha said...

I've enjoyed all the books I've read so far by Mayberry yet I debated to pick this one up because of the book blurb (I'm not too fond of the restless hero or heroine trope). But your review has really peaked my interest. Off to the Kindle it goes! Very lovely and intriguing review, Kristie. :)