I just want to start by saying that I genuinely enjoy this author’s work, but she’s grown a LOT as a writer in the six years since this was developed – and it shows. This book also really needs a content warning, because the storyline features something that’s a dealbreaker to many, many romance readers. If I knew the reason why this couple broke up the first time around, I wouldn’t have read this. Simple as that. It’s not handled well either, so I was 100% emotionally detached from this love story before it was over. I’m sad to say that this didn’t work for me on any level, and that’s very disappointing.
I’m going to mention the reason for the breakup, so stop here if you don’t want to know. Essentially, the story follows Anders and Shay, high school sweethearts whose relationship went down in flames. Anders was struggling at the time, so he pushed Shay away in every way that he knew how – including cheating on her. Eight years have passed and they’ve both made their way in life without each other, but a chance meeting brings all of those old feelings crashing back to the surface. Despite the way Anders did Shay wrong, she still remembers the guy that she used to love. As they reconnect and rediscover the people they are now, these two former flames realize that they might just be right for each other this time around.
I have no idea why the author chose not to mention the cheating in the blurb, but based on the way it’s brushed aside in this, I’m going to assume it’s because we’re supposed to forgive it. There’s more than one instance where Anders wonders why Shay is still upset about the cheating years later and I’m like… uh, because her trust was irreparably broken? It was kind of a big deal? I’m the kind of reader who can forgive an antihero who has cheated in the past (preferably not on the love of his life), but ONLY if there’s a ton of groveling and obvious personal growth. I didn’t feel that here. Anders is sort of a manhoe in present day, and while he says he’s sorry, I don’t actually think he says that it will never happen again. I don’t think he genuinely acknowledges what a big deal it was. And I don’t think the relationship is overly romantic in present day. Shay doesn’t make him work all that hard for her affection or her body, and their interactions in present day are broken up by frequent flashbacks that just serve as constant reminders to the damage that was done. I’d like to think that the Halle of present day could’ve handled some of these issues better, but that’s not what we’re dealing with here. I appreciated receiving an early copy (and am voluntarily leaving a review), but this was a miss for me.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Where Sea Meets Sky and Racing the Sun comes a wildly romantic STANDALONE about a young American abroad in Norway who runs into the man who broke her heart eight years ago.
After years of bartending her way across Europe, Shay Lavji has seen almost everything the continent has to offer, but there’s one country she hasn’t crossed off her bucket list yet: Norway. It’s not that she doesn’t want to visit the land of the midnight sun—far from it; she’s obsessed with the culture and is dying to see the majestic fjords for herself.
What she’s not dying to do is run into her Norwegian ex-boyfriend, Anders Johansson, who broke her heart in America eight years ago before returning to his ancestral home. The last time she saw Anders, he was a cocky, rebellious, and tortured teenager who couldn’t stop himself from pushing all of her buttons—both good and bad. But Shay isn’t going to let Anders stand in the way of her wanderlust, and besides, it’s a big country, right?
She doesn’t count on Anders seeking her out the moment he learns she’s on his home turf. When Shay sees him again, she’s shocked at his transformation into a bearded, tattooed farmer and fisherman who values family over everything else. Is it possible that time has tamed this former bad boy? Shay wants to believe that everything can be new and bright again under the summer sun, but she knows, when it comes to Anders, the darkness is never too far behind.
About the Author:
Karina Halle is a screenwriter, a former music & travel journalist, and the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of The Pact, A Nordic King, and Sins & Needles, as well as sixty other wild and romantic reads.
She, her musician husband, and their adopted pit bull, Bruce, live in a rainforest on an island off the coast of British Columbia, where they operate Raven Ridge, a B&B that’s perfect for writers’ retreats and romantic getaways.
In the winter, you can often find them in California or on their beloved island of Kauai, soaking up as much sun (and getting as much inspiration) as possible. For more information, visit www.authorkarinahalle.com/books.
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