Wednesday, October 19, 2016

All At Once by Vera Mae

How do you review a book that has forced you to rip open your own soul and poke around amidst the gore and begin stitching yourself back together?  I don't have a clue, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

Firstly, this is a pseudonym for an author that I absolutely adore.  She's one of the most brilliant literary minds alive today.  I don't read romance, but I'll never pass up the chance to read something she has written.

In this book, we're treated to a front row viewing of the magic that is Jayne and Lyel.  A chance meeting, or is it?  Love at first sight.  Immediate connection.  Following that, we have the intensity that is blinding, passionate love.  Time stops existing.  It simply isn't.  Then we have the torture that goes along with such love.  The agony, the despair.  We're stuck where reality and dream conflict.

This is billed as a contemporary romance, but it isn't.  Vera Mae uses a classical literature style that reminds you of Bronte.  You feel like you're back in the 19th century, except that you're in today's downtown New York.  Most contemporary romance is fun and flirty and by the first or second date, there's a whole lot of sex.  All of this culminates in the ultimate marriage.  What Vera Mae has done is nothing like that.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy sex as much as the next person.  However, sex and romance are not the same thing.  I'm sorry, dear writers, they simply aren't.  Jayne and Lyel's story isn't one of fun, flirty sex.  This is core deep.

I don't read romance for two reasons.  The first is the reason listed above.  Most romance stories don't actually contain any romance.  Second, I'm damaged.  Logic doesn't hurt and I am a coward.  This book gutted me.  Gutted.  I had to reach out because I couldn't handle it on my own.  Logic ceased to exist and I was running on pure emotion.  The fact that any writer can do that to me is astonishing.  Near the beginning, I was reading along when I realized, quite suddenly, that there was no chocolate in my hand and I was grinning.  I wasn't just watching this love story.  I was mesmerized by it.  Later, as the story unfolds, I began to identify so heavily that I grew angry.  I began swearing at the author.  That's when the chocolate came out.  Four Reese's cups.  I ate four.  It felt like all of my old wounds were ripped open fresh.  And then a surprising thing happened.  Jayne began to cope.  And she made sense and she was logical.  At that stage, I began to cope again.  What a wild ride, huh?

Perfection is born of perception, dear readers.  Sharing this perfection with Jayne and Lyel and the entire cast, well it was a life changing experience for me.  Even though I've sworn off romances, I will pick up anything Vera Mae writes.  I'll just be more prepared next time.  Though it was a beautiful, rough experience, I've come out the other side stronger and better for it.

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