Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Edge of Never (The Edge of Never #1) by J.A. Redmerski

The Edge of Never (The Edge of Never, #1)

Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett had always been one to think out-of-the-box, who knew she wanted something more in life than following the same repetitive patterns and growing old with the same repetitive life story. And she thought that her life was going in the right direction until everything fell apart.
Determined not to dwell on the negative and push forward, Camryn is set to move in with her best friend and plans to start a new job. But after an unexpected night at the hottest club in downtown North Carolina, she makes the ultimate decision to leave the only life she’s ever known, far behind.
With a purse, a cell phone and a small bag with a few necessities, Camryn, with absolutely no direction or purpose boards a Greyhound bus alone and sets out to find herself. What she finds is a guy named Andrew Parrish, someone not so very different from her and who harbors his own dark secrets. But Camryn swore never to let down her walls again. And she vowed never to fall in love.
But with Andrew, Camryn finds herself doing a lot of things she never thought she’d do. He shows her what it’s really like to live out-of-the-box and to give in to her deepest, darkest desires. On their sporadic road-trip he becomes the center of her exciting and daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imagined possible. But will Andrew’s dark secret push them inseparably together, or tear them completely apart?

I've read and understand some of the complaints about this book and I'll get into those points I agree with a little bit later, but what worked far overwhelmed the negatives and I found this to be a wonderful novel.

This story took quite a bit of time to tell. Sometimes this level of character exploration works, sometimes it doesn't. It all hinges on how far the author is willing to take it and how true the characters feel to the reader. Redmerski, I felt, truly knew her characters well, loved them even. She allowed them to breathe and falter, she gutted them and re-forged them, she allowed them to stumble, as we all do, without apology.

The story initially focuses on Camryn who, due to some issues, takes flight from her home to destinations unknown in search of something, herself maybe, perhaps answers, not even she is certain. It is during this soul-seeking adventure to nowhere that she meets Andrew, who is on a mission of his own. Though his reasons at first seem fairly similar in many respects, the underlying motivations are not. This is a secret which is not revealed until well, well into the book, though it's often hinted at. I will not reveal Andrew's secret, because that would ruin the story, though I will say it isn't what I initially suspected, but the clues were certainly there, enough so that I smacked myself in the head when it was finally revealed. But isn't that the mark of a truly good storyteller? Someone who is able to sprinkle the answers amongst the text and still keep you guessing. There are no red herrings, no misleading clues, it's all there, you just have to look, but even when you do you can still miss it because everything else is so vivid and mesmerizing.

Camryn's pain and trepidation was palpable and honest after a few other life issues which have sebsequently shut her down emotionally. I understood her motivations, got why she felt trapped, recognized her fear of intimacy and commiserated with her as she struggled to reconcile and accept her burgeoning feelings for Andrew.

Andrew is a character searching for hope in what he feels is a hopeless world and his serendipitous encounter with Camryn offers him a glimpse into a future he does not believe he can have. While his feelings about his life in general may seem clouded by impending doom, this is certainly not how he lives his life. In fact, Andrew lives with reckless abandon and a true zest for tasting life. The issues he's working through do not impede his ability to seize the moment, in fact, it propels him to do just that.

Together, this couple struggles to understand their grief and begin to explore feelings of intimacy they each thought were well beyond their reach and capacity to obtain. As they tear across the southern U.S. they reveal to each other their inner demons, though Andrew's biggest secret is one he will not part with until the end, and discover that life is something which cannot be scripted or contained.

I've read some reviews in which some people have complained about this story's pacing. Yes, I guess I can see that, at times, especially in the very beginning and toward the 3/4 mark, I found it slightly dragging, but not enough to warrant a true complaint on my part. Once into the story, I understood why certain elements needed more time to explore. Others have complained about the ending. Again, yes, I can understand that, perhaps, it should have ended before the epilogue. I guess maybe I'm just a sucker for HEA. I think without that epilogue I might have taken off a star after tossing the book. It really all depends on what you're looking for really. Was it realistic? No, probably not. In real life there would have been no HEA for these two and once you read the book you'll understand why. But that's okay, I wanted that HEA, regardless of how implausible it was and I felt satisfied when I closed the cover.

Will I read book two? Abso-freaking-lutely. Without question. Regardless of the above complaints, Redmerski wrote some fantastic characters and I will follow their story wherever it leads.

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