Monday, January 9, 2012

Bittersweet Memories - Jannifer Hoffman

I dare you to read this and not say, “Wow – now that is a good book.”  Unless you are one of the very rare few that married your First Love you will be able to relate to Bittersweet Memories on a very deep level.   After all most of us have been in Jace and LuAnn’s shoes – a relationship has ended, you are past the anger/disappointment stage and find yourself content with life but not willing to go down the relationship rode again.  As Jace says, “Been there, done that, bought the whole damn wardrobe.”  Because really when was a t-shirt ever enough to cover up all the scars left behind from a failed relationship. 

From the first page Ms. Hoffman does an amazing job pulling you into the story and the characters.  LuAnn is a charming, divorced, schoolteacher with a pleasant simple life, albeit lonely.  After marrying because that was what people do, she realized that marriage is not the answer to mend her damaged heart due to her dysfunctional childhood and teenage affair that resulted in her having to give her baby up for adoption.  Jace is a private investigator and is also divorced and content in his job.  He at one time had been a very well respected attorney but after having to manipulate the system to ensure that a case went in favor of the innocent he was bared from practicing law.  His divorce was also due to a lack of love in the marriage and resulted in him grieving the loss of contact with his ex-wife’s son from a previous marriage who he had grown to love. 

Jace is hired by one of the wealthiest men in town, Bart Harridan, to find LuAnn.  He is given very little information other than he is not to make contact with her and to find her quickly.  During his investigation into her he realizes that he is being followed and that everything may not be as it seems.  Why is he being followed if Mr. Harridan’s intentions with LuAnn are legitimate?   Jace decides to meet her and find out why Mr. Harridan might be looking for her?  From this point forward the story takes on a captivating ride of cat and mouse as Jace and LuAnn evade Mr. Harridan and his associates while trying to discover what is really going.   The nail biting plot will keep your on your toes and unable to put the book down wanting to see what is going to happen next.

What I really loved about this book is that the characters are so genuine.  You can really believe why they would fall in love with each other and have a happily ever after.  They are both coming from a disappointing past but are emotionally healthy.  They both have nagging friends and relatives that are trying to set them up, who provide great comic relief, but also show just how mentally ready they are to move on even though they are reluctant to.   The characters are constantly moving throughout the book, which I really loved.  One minute they are in an common place like Applebee’s and the next they are jumping around to different locations – Jace’s yacht taking it out to sea, his log hunting cabin in the woods, his sister’s, LuAnn’s House, etc.  The constantly changing scenery makes for a rich exciting backdrop adding intrigue and romance to the intricate plot.  By having to evade their pursuers they are forced to really get to know everything about each other in a very short period of time in order to put the puzzle together as to why they are being followed.  I found this to be a really huge perk to the story development.  Lately I have been frustrated when a couple claims to have a quick declaration of ever lasting love when they really don’t know anything about each other.   By having to divulge their secrets and immerse themselves into each other’s lives, while trying to stay out of sight, they really get to know each other. 

When they finally realize that they are in love and that they have found the illusive Happily Ever After it is truly a touching moment.  I don’t want to give too much away because the plot has so many twists, turns and exciting revelations that it is as much of a thriller novel as it is a romance.  I’ll just say that their discovery of why they are being chased is as rewarding as their new love. 

RATING:  I give this one four chocolate-dipped strawberries. 

I would have given it a five except for the fact that it is a novella and I would have loved to learn more about what happened to the villains in the end.  It would have been nice to have had more closure and seen them pay for their dastardly deeds but the book closes on a really happy note  - leaving you with my favorite feeling…closing the book with a sign and the thought “now that was a really good book!”

This book was given to us by Resplendence Publishing. Many thanks.
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