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. (Goodreads)
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t have very good feelings about this book when I read the synopsis. When my eyes fell on the the word ‘Candlelit dinner,’ I kind of sensed, and wondered, that this might be a cheesy read. Don’t get me wrong- I hold nothing against candlelit dinner itself, I think it’s romantic, but something about this book kind of put me off. It was more like a gut-instinct. And I am afraid to tell you this, that my gut-instinct proved to have been right.
Two stars is the justice I possibly could do to this book; it really pains me to say this, but I just did not like this book.
I do appreciate the prose; it’s beautiful, exuding calm, tranquil ambiance throughout, and I valued the writing style where the story is alternatingly narrated in two timelines – present (2008) and past (1996 -1998) depicting how the romance between the heroine, Kailey and her ex-boyfriend, Cade, had fired up and how deeply they had been in love with each other. It flows nicely and smoothly. The writing is pretty decent. That said though, when it comes to emotional impact which I really look for in a book, it was lacking. Yes, I did appreciate the tender, gentle tones of her writing, but it kind of resulted in the lack of emotional impact and I was never truly hooked by this book. I was just gliding through the book, along for the ride.
There are, in all fairness, what I found compelling – albeit not quite – scenes that drew my attention. And the social elements as in homelessness and prejudice intrigued me and made me expectant about how it’s going to play out at first, to what an explosive destination it would lead me. But alas, IT NEVER HAPPENED.
Basically, there was no complication whatsoever. No, there IS romantic complication BUT it solves pretty quickly, like, one night you have a huge fight with your fiance and the next day you two reconcile regardless of the ENORMITY of the underlining cause, and it just didn’t click with me.
More than anything, I couldn’t stomach the sappy heroine, Kailey.
Yes, she lost the love of her life – or, she thought she had lost him and then he suddenly springs back into her life. It stands to reason that she is devastated to find her old flame fallen into a state of homelessness – his downfall and was unsettled by her ember of affection toward Cade. I know where she’s coming from.
That said though, I just couldn’t relate to her teetering emotions nor could I stomach her guts. Seriously, HOW COULD SHE EVER DO THAT TO HER FIANCE??? I cannot talk about much without giving anything away, but while I partially understand Kailey’s struggles, I couldn’t justify her actions. To me, she only seems selfish and deceptive, and incredibly sappy. Ugh.
In addition to that, none of the characters seemed realistic, they are almost saint-like, forgiving her irrational actions. WOW. Are they blind??? Although almost all the characters sing their praises as to what a great, generous person Kailey is, it was NOT well-executed in my opinion, so it lacked conviction. It wasn’t convincing enough to get me invested and root for Kailey. Obviously my lack of empathy for Kailey is the biggest issue that I had with this book.
I also seriously doubt the credibility of the elements ‘homelessness’ and brain injury thrown into a book. These are, indeed, intriguing but I wonder how much research went into writing them. Those elements are only briefly touched in the plot, like, just for the sake of spicing things up. There is also a mystery element intertwined, but the crucial, ‘whatever happened to Cade’ is only partially answered; there are still some unanswered questions but the author wrapped up the story WAY TOO NEATLY. All the issues and problems dealt in this book MIRACULOUSLY vanish, a literal denouement but it feels too convenient. Everything told in this book seemed on the surface level; there was not much depth to it which I didn’t appreciate at all.
I must agree it may be fine as a romance novel, but to be honest, this is just not for me.
Again, for the sake of the fact that I reached the end and the decent prose, I will give this book 2 stars, but on a personal level, this is a 1 star book. I am terribly disappointed and sorry about this, but I just couldn’t give this book any more than 2 stars.