Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Review: Eight Goodbyes - Christine Brae

Eight Goodbyes 
by Christine Brae
Published: August 28, 2018 by Vesuvian Books 
Genre: Contemporary Romance

“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.

4 Stars

They say opposites attract and with Eight Goodbyes' Tessa and Simon that is definitely the case. He's a smart, sensitive scientist and businessman, while she's best described as having her heads in the clouds. As an author Tessa is afforded the ability to travel the world, giving in to the words in her head whenever she wants and keeping everyone at arm's length. Simon, though, is persistent in winning her over and as they meet up in various locations all over the world she begins to find comfort in the consistency. They say goodbye each time, there's no promise of the future, no plan, until one day finally Tessa gives in and offers Simon everything. Life though, like love, is unpredictable and the two are set on different paths.

"Take me to the stars with you."

Oh my, the first half of this novel I cringed at each goodbye, hoping the pair would find a way to be together and yet still be their individual selves. I liked both main characters, connecting with Simon's clean way and formula style thinking and envying Tessa's ability to hop around the world embracing every new experience, though I wasn't quite a fan of her arrogance. They changed each other with each meeting, each evolving into a new version of themselves, though they seem to already fit perfectly together. Tessa gradually becomes less flippant about life and Simon becomes less rigid, more open to the unknown. We only get glimpses of their time together, relatively unaware of what goes on when they are apart. We see Tessa with new walls built around her each time they meet, unable to shake the loss from her life. Simon, on the other hand, wields emotions like a sword, working Tessa's walls down and learning to embrace her adventurous side. He keeps secrets from her though and I struggled with how much he asked of her while still not giving all of himself. Their vulnerabilities seem to be something that both attracts them to one another and pushes them apart. Finally though we see them embrace this unknown, this love, only to watch it shatter. It's difficult, the struggles they continue to face are hard, but it is realistic and Christine Brae takes you on a journey of loss, love, and rediscovery.

"His heart had been besieged with rules. Just this once. Let him keep the one thing."

There is an event in this book that is a topic I currently avoid, so when I got to that scene I set aside the book and pondered how I felt about reading about something that I had a similar experience with. I wasn't sure I'd go back in, but Simon and Tessa called to me and with a bit of apprehension I started reading again. Christine Brae deals with the topic delicately, similar to how she writes about sex, she skims the actual events, leaving us with the character's emotions and the aftermath. I found it really interesting how the timeline of the book skipped ahead after the event, revealing that the characters are still reeling from the event though their lives have moved forward. I appreciated how Christine Brae worked through the emotions with the characters, showing each having done something different. It was unpredictable and there were certainly some twists that I loved and some I hated, much like how I feel about real life sometimes.

"Up to then, the details are murky. How she let him go, how he let her go."

Eight Goodbyes is a romance novel that takes you on a journey, embracing all that life has to offer, the beautiful and the painful. Christine Brae has a lyrical writing style and while it isn't for everyone I think it worked well for this type of story. For me, this book was reminiscent of One Day by David Nichols, with the characters going about life and meeting briefly, and I generally enjoyed the unknown even if the characters didn't. I loved the various settings and the character growth Tessa and Simon go through as they discover what love is together. I absolutely recommend this novel, if anything read it just for Simon who is obviously in the running for Book Boyfriend of the year.

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