Standalone – emotional yet uplifting story about grabbing a second chance at love
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Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
“This was not a mistake. I know what this is! You know what this is! This is love, Rachel. We are falling in love.”
WOW! What a debut! Caroline Nolan is an author we’ll be keeping an eye on because if this is her debut novel, we can only surmise the amazing stories we have to look forward to from her in the future!
In This Is Love, Caroline Nolan brought to life a story that not only hit us emotionally but was delivered so beautifully and with such striking imagery, we became a part of the story. There was a wonderful sense of realness, honesty and sincerity to Caroline Nolan’s prose that ensured every touch, every word and every nuance of her characters were achingly experienced as we found ourselves completely connected to this story as it unfolded.
“I know we can do this. I know it because I know we’re worth it. You know it too.”
This Is Love centres around Rachel Miller, who we meet a year following the sudden and unexpected death of her fiancée, Ben. Rachel felt Ben’s loss terribly and has struggled to come to grips with life without Ben. Rachel was so caught up in planning her future with this man, the last thing she expected was to be facing life without him. In the blink of an eye, Rachel’s hopes, dreams and plans crumbled when she lost the love of her life.
“Your relationship with Ben. It didn’t end by choice. It didn’t end because you fell out of love. It was taken. Unfairly, unjustly. It’s not how your story with Ben was supposed to end. You didn’t lose the love. You lost the man.”
Rachel knows she needs to pull herself out of the blackness of grief that has enveloped her and agrees to a night out with her friend Tess, who is an absolute hoot by the way. This girl has no filter and isn’t afraid to speak her mind with hilarious and cringe worthy results. It is whilst on this night out Rachel familiarises herself with Jackson Perry who has recently moved back into town after working in Switzerland for a few years as an Investment banker. Jax…oh dear god he stole our hearts! He was so…normal. A great sense of humour, successful, kind, sweet, romantic yet with a fierce determination in his pursuit of Rachel. Our hearts swooned over Jax! . His smile and attraction to Rachel is like a defibrillator to her heart as Rachel feels the first stirrings of attraction that excites her.
His eyes darken slightly. “This isn’t romance,” he says, correcting me. “This is a restaurant with good food and wine. Romance is what happens in the between. Moments I haven’t had a chance to show you yet.”
But for Rachel, her attraction to Jax also brings carries a lot of guilt. As thrilled she is to be experiencing these feelings, she’s also mortified that during the time she spends with Jax, Ben is away from her thoughts causing her to endure conflict and unease over her feelings.
‘How can I let go of someone I’ve been trying so hard to keep? How can I keep him if it could cost me everything I’ve just found? How am I supposed to leave one behind?’
We were there every step of the way as with Jax and Rachel. Their affection for one another never felt rushed and it was a welcome relief to have them communicating the way they did. Jax especially wears his heart of his sleeve and was never hesitant in verbalising and showing exactly what was in his heart and head.
“You took me by surprise, I wasn’t expecting you or even looking for you.”
It is through Rachel’s dreams we become acquainted with Ben and witness the effect he had on her life. The sheer happiness and joy they had shared when he was alive and how extremely difficult it is for Rachel to let him go and allow herself to open her heart for a second chance at love are explored through these dreams. We loved getting to know Ben and really felt for Rachel in her dilemma but Jax had burrowed his way into our hearts and we were hoping he would eventually be what Rachel needed to move forward….but would Rachel be able to let go of her past?
Although this is a story of a woman living through her grief, in no way did we find this story overly heavy, sad or depressing. Sure, it was full of emotion but we also found it to be quite uplifting in some ways as we became excited with Rachel over the possibility of new love yet understood her hesitancy due to her feelings for Ben. This book was romance and second chance love, it was passionate, sensual, at times witty and so beautifully brought to life. Our only gripe was that we would have loved more ‘afters‘ but that could be because we loved these characters and weren’t quite ready to close the pages on their love story.
“Do you know my greatest fear? My greatest fear is that someone else was meant to be the love of your life. It’s also my greatest hope.”