New Life - loved it!
Reviewed in the United States on 2 June 2013
"Love came in all sorts of different packages and mine just happened to be shaped like Jason."
Bonnie Dee had been recommended to me several times, but this was my first book of hers. She writes unusual heroes, I was told. They aren't traditional romances. She tackles difficult subject matters. Well, yes, New Life fits in all those pigeon-holes, but it's so much more besides.
What would an up-and-coming lawyer see in a brain-damaged janitor? And how could Jason ever think of sustaining a relationship with her?
From the opening pages, I was locked into this story and hated to put it down. Bonnie Dee has crafted a sensitive and moving story with a delicate hand. Her characters leap off the page, they're real, and I identified with them every step of the way.
** "Try counting sheep," I blurted.
She stopped and turned, blonde-streaked brown hair flipping over one shoulder. "Pardon me?"
"It helps... when you're having a hard day."
I knew she thought I was simpleminded by the way her eyes went all soft and pitying. "I think that's for falling asleep."
"It works for other things too. It's a technique. Like a - what do you call it - mantra. Helps you calm down...when you're anxious and... focuses your thoughts."
I could parrot therapist-speak, and I definitely wanted this chick to know I wasn't dumb. **
Jason is painfully aware of his limitations and is slowly rebuilding some form of life for himself.
** She blushed and dropped her gaze to her plate. Damn, was I actually flirting? I hadn't done that since... Actually, I couldn't remember ever flirting. That was pre-accident Jason and I was Jason 2.0. I never felt as if his experiences were really mine. **
We follow him through his initial meetings with Anna, and we can see - as clearly as he can - that they are worlds apart. However, Bonnie Dee also gives us Anna's POV, and she can see beyond the shattered exterior.
** He stared even more deeply into my eyes and asked, "Why?"
I blinked. "What?"
"Why would you want to go out with me? Why'd you even ask me to meet you here?" He sounded honestly curious.
"Why not? I like talking to you. Look, if you're not interested, just say so."
He was silent long enough for me to start feeling like a fool. "I'm interested," he said at last. "I just don't understand why you are." **
You'll have to indulge me. I'm including lots of quotes from New Life as I struggled to narrow it down to just a few extracts. The writing is beautiful. Bonnie Dee takes a mis-matched couple and makes them fit with each other, despite all their differences.
** He was anything but slow, despite his halting speech pattern. His sharp features would've been almost too conventionally handsome without the jagged scar that ran from temple to jaw on the right side. It gave the impression of trial by fire. This man had been through something heavy duty and emerged on the other side. **
Jason comes across as brave and self-reliant, and not prone to self-pity. He's making the best of things and Anna adores him for it.
** "I'd like to keep seeing you," I said. "But it's going to be hard to find time when we're on opposite shifts."
He took his arms from the back of the bench and folded them. "Plus, it's not like we're in the same social circle, I understand." He sounded as if he were responding to a "get lost."
I touched his arm. "Wait. I'm not saying I don't want to get together, only that it's going to take some arranging. But I want to, if you want to."
"Hell, yeah." **
Since he works nights, and she works days, it adds another layer of difficulty to their blossoming relationship. However, Anna buys a puppy - Baby - and since Jason is good with dogs, she invites him to come and care for her puppy and things take off between them.
** I kissed her hard enough to make her gasp when I let her go. Whether we saw each other again or not, it was a kiss she wouldn't forget.
"I'll text you," I said before I got out of the car.
"Me too." Her voice sounded a little breathless which was very satisfying.
I went into the building, but before the door closed behind me, I watched her drive away. Something was starting here, the first really good thing in my life in a long time. Now, if I could just keep from screwing it up. Excitement and happiness mingled with dread as I envisioned a hundred different ways that might happen. **
Of course, things do go wrong. Anna's parents call by unexpectedly for an excruciating visit that highlights to Jason just how different they really are.
** He gripped the handle of the floor polisher as if it were a crutch. "I think maybe we should chill things a little."
I would not let him know how much that hurt. "If that's what you want," I said so lightly the words bobbed up to the ceiling like helium balloons. **
** I took a last glance at his shoulders stretching the coverall as he guided the polisher back and forth, and felt a pang of pure desire. A crystal-clear realisation flashed in my mind: this was no longer a fling. I'd fallen hard for a guy I'd known only a short time, a guy who was damaged in more than physical ways, and nothing about that was going to be easy. **
And when Jason tries to patch things up between them, it makes an uncomfortable situation a thousand times worse.
** It didn't take nearly long enough for me to review the steps of my brilliant master plan: go to Anna's office, knock on the door, offer the flowers and a heartfelt apology for hooking up with Lisa, accept Anna's forgiveness and her kiss. How hard could it be?
If you feel impending disaster looming, you should probably listen to the voice in your head yelling, Danger Will Robinson. **
It would be hard not to like and admire Jason. Even when he screwed up, I still desperately wanted him to be able to fix things. I longed for them to not only survive as a couple, but to thrive on it.
** When you've hit rock bottom as many times as I have, you start to redefine what "bottom" means. Is it the moment when you wake from a coma and realize you've lost half your memories? Is it the time when you collapse during rehab and seriously doubt you're going to walk again? Is it the look in your girlfriend's eyes when she tells you to go away? **
I loved this book, can't you tell? The strength of the characters, the raw emotions on every page, the heartfelt longing for them to be together and to beat all the obstacles that kept rising before them. There was hot sex too, and that was a delicious garnish on an amazing story.
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