I was particularly excited to see that Emily Colin was going to be attending the UCF Book Festival in a few weeks, and more than enthusiastic to read her debut novel. I had the pleasure of meeting her at SIBA in Naples last October. Actually, I didn't know who she was a first, just that we were both involved in a bit of humiliation one night while playing pub games at one of the SIBA events. It was the next day, when Emily showed up at my table for The Moveable Feast Luncheon, that I learned that she was an author. (So much for me making good first impressions! Ha!) Not only was Emily very personable, but she had a very compelling premise for her first novel.
Synopsis: Maddie Kimble has always known the risks. On any given expedition, her mountaineer husband Aidan may or may not return. Maddie knows that climbing is Aidan's passion, and generally keeps her concerns to herself, until he prepares to travel to Alaska to climb the south face of Mt. McKinley. She has a bad feeling, and begs him not to go. Aidan would just as soon not breathe, though, and makes a solemn promise to return home to Maddie and their son Gabriel.
It is a foregone conclusion, when Maddie gets the call from Aidan's climbing partner and best friend J.C...an avalanche, the unsuccessful rescue party, the survivor's guilt, the determination to take care of Maddie and her son. But strangely, Gabriel already knows his daddy is dead, because his daddy came and visited him in his bedroom and told him.
Across the country, Nicholas, a young man whose life is going nowhere, is in a motorcycle accident and wakes up in a hospital without any personal memories. He doesn't remember his friends, his fiance, or anything about his likes and dislikes. Instead he remembers being trapped in snow, suddenly smokes cigarettes, and is haunted by the image of a beautiful woman and her young son. He decides that he cannot move forward and reclaim his real life until he resolves the one that is living inside his dreams, and sets out to find some answers.
This emotional novel explores guilt, the depths of grief, love, loyalty, passion and the sacredness of a promise, and their lingering power even after death.
My thoughts: I went into this book knowing very little bit about it - my only information was what Emily told us at lunch. A love story of sorts, a tragedy, mountain-climbing. That was it. Was it a mystery? Was there a bad guy? What about the supernatural stuff in there? I tend to cautiously read books like this, waiting for things to surprise me, always looking for trouble. I read WAY too many murder mysteries.
All I can say is that the book was incredibly easy to read, compelling, and I found 90% of it mesmerizing and pleasurable. Agreed, a man has died, leaving a grieving family and friends, and that is heartbreaking and terrible. So you would think this book would be a huge buzz kill. But it isn't. Colin frames Aidan's death with a gentleness that is hard to explain. We get to know Maddie and Aidan's story through dreams experienced by both Maddie and Nicholas. And while Aidan is dead, he has unfinished business so he isn't quite gone yet, and that offers the reader some comfort. The chemistry is palpable, the bonds are strong, and the book left me feeling like I was wrapped in a warm blanket.
The supernatural twist did not bother me in the least. Like I said, it gave me comfort and I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Also I have to mention this. Colin was blurbed by Joshilyn Jackson, AND she mentions Marisa de los Santos' "Belong To Me" in the book. Two of my favorite authors ever. Major points Emily. Big time.
So why was it only 90% mesmerizing and pleasurable? I had one nagging issue with the plot. I won't be spoilery, so I will just say that Maddie does something after Aidan's death that made me feel really BAD. Was it realistic? Probably. But I was a little bit mad at her.
I think Colin has tremendous potential as an author. Her prose flows so smoothly, and she expertly captures the essence of chemistry and relationships on the page. I look forward to more from her!
4 out of 5 stars