Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Leo (Sign of Love #1) by Mia Sheridan

Leo (Sign of Love, #1)

Evie and Leo met in foster care as children and formed a bond of friendship. As they grew, their bond turned to love, and they vowed to make a life together when they turned 18 and were no longer a part of the system.

When Leo unexpectedly gets adopted as a teen and he moves to another city, he promises Evie that he will contact her as soon as he gets there and come back for her in a few short years. She never hears from him again.

Now eight years later, in spite of the odds, Evie has made a life for herself. She has a job. She has friends. She's content. Then a man shows up out of the blue, claiming that her long lost love, Leo, sent him to check up on her. The attraction between them is undeniable. But, should she trust this sexy stranger? Or is he keeping a secret about what his connection to Leo is really all about and why Leo disappeared all those years ago?

What a truly interesting premise this little book has.  Though I guessed at the secret early on, it in no way hampered my enjoyment of the book.  What did knock my socks of, however, was the reveal.  Totally did not see that coming.  So YAY for Mia Sheridan for coming up with something so compelling.  Truth be told, until a certain scene in Evie's apartment, I was so not willing to forgive Jake.  Afterward, I was completely on board with him.  Just goes to show you that it's possible to write a conflicted character who has totally messed crap up and still allow them to find a truly believable redemption.  With too many novels lately, I've been underwhelmed by the epiphanies or simply find that the plot devices used for dramatical purposes are so farfetched there's not even a modicum of believability in them.  Not so with this novel.  And while these characters went through some crazies, they were absolutely believable crazies.

I'm going to stay away from plot analysis as it's difficult to parse it out without spoilers and this is not the kind of book I'd want spoiled for me.  The mystery, or secret, is integral to the plot, so much so that to reveal it would detract from the story.  So I think, instead, I'll focus on the characters and hope you'll read the book to learn on your own how they navigate their story.

Evie was really a lovely character.  While I didn't always understand her decision making process (though it made more sense at the end of the book), I understood her enough to have faith in her ability to do what was best for herself, and that was enough for me.  Though her history is laced with some rather atrocious events and smothered in heartbreak, Evie had a remarkable capacity for love and understanding.  Through her relationships with her friends I discovered how fiercely loyal and kind she was, and her ability to hold on to the good in life was refreshing.  She had every reason to be bitter and resentful, no one would have faulted her for that, but she wasn't, and though she clearly hadn't worked through all the pain in her past, she wouldn't allow herself to live there.  Instead she strived to create a better reality for herself.

Jake was an easily likeable character, full of charisma and charm, though there was something off about him.  I think most of it is easily explained by the reveal, however, a few things weren't.  He had moments of alpha behavior that didn't resonate with me based on who he seemed to be outside of those moments.  My impression of him was that he was conflicted but had a tremendous capacity to love, there was also a tenderness about him that stood in stark contrast to those alpha behaviors and when he exhibited them, it all felt a little off to me.  But that could just be me and it probably wouldn't bother most people.  I battled with Jake a bit throughout this novel, even though, as I mentioned, I figured out what was going on pretty early in the book.  I think part of that has to do with his need for secrecy.  It's a hard balance to strike for authors, allowing their characters to reveal enough to be fully realized while still maintaining the big secret, and I'm not sure that Jake was as fully realized as he could/should have been.  That being said, I did like him very much, I just could have used more exploration.

Which leads me into the next little bit.  Without delving into the story, I did want more from this couple.  Even knowing what I knew, I had to begin this journey with them in the moment they began telling it, not during the earlier years that are relayed through flashbacks.  I had to see this couple as the people they were today and, therefore, wanted more development of their relationship.  Again, I know this is difficult to do without spoiling the reveal, but it is possible and would have made this really good book into a superb one.

Yes, yes, there are some grammatical issues and choppy transitions, but I forgive these and won't reduce my rating to reflect them.  This is an Indie publication so I forgive these little issues.  Other than that, really strong storytelling with a very unique plot made this a truly good book by an author I will absolutely read again.  And I will certainly be checking out book two in this series.

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