We are so very excited to be sharing the release of Christine Brae’s all-new contemporary romance, THE YEAR I LEFT.
What. A. Read! And we have not one, but two 5-star reviews and to celebrate Christine’s release, we are doing an exclusive giveaway!
Carin Frost doesn’t understand what’s happening to her. A confident businesswoman, wife, and mother, she begins to resent everything about her life. Nothing makes sense. Nothing makes her feel. Maybe it’s the recent loss of her mother in a tragic accident. Or maybe she’s just losing her mind.
Enter Matias Torres. As their new business partnership thrives, so does their friendship—and his interest in her. Carin is determined to keep her distance until a work assignment sends them to Southeast Asia where a storm is brewing on the island. In the midst of the chaos, Matias asks her to do something unimaginable, exhilarating, BOLD. Carin knows the consequences could be dire, but it may be the only way to save herself.
An honest look at love and marriage and the frailties of the human heart, this is a story of a woman’s loss of self and purpose and the journey she takes to find her way back.
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Reviewed by Anna on behalf of KFF
Carin is a successfully independent career woman, a wife and a mother of a ten-year-old boy frantically juggling chores and duties. The recent death of her mother plus the growing distance between her and her husband adds up to her feeling of despondency and resentment, emptiness and overwhelming emotions. Reading through all these and how she reacted to family situations you don’t need to be a rocket scientist or a psychologist to know that she is clinically depressed; although her husband’s laissez faire attitude towards her doesn’t help either.
This beautiful narrative is written in three parts, the first two in Carin’s point of view and the last one is from Matias’ perspective. Ms. Brae never disappoints with her stories, she has a knack of weaving a tapestry of words that will keep you entertained. Although I loved the plot of this story, I find the main characters a bit hard to like at some points in this book: Carin with her life-changing decisions, Jack’s emotional detachment and Matias’ selfish attitude. They might not be the lovable characters I hoped I’d find in this book but one can totally relate on how they feel. There are some minor details regarding Carin’s background that I thought was contradictory but I don’t want to split hairs about it because overall this is a wonderful story about life, love and second chances.
“Because of you, I have heard the colors of the sky, seen the rushing of the wind and tasted the sound of love’s sweet words. To you, I give all my life, all my love, my present and my past.
Whether together or apart the one truth I will always have is you.”
I have followed this author’s journey in writing and considering that this will be her last one, I thought that she finished it on a high, at the top of her game. A truly poignant swan song this book is one of my favourite reads this year. Highly recommended!
Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF
If I had to describe Christine Brae’s writing in one word, it would have to be magnificent. The flawless second-person singular narrative in past tense is a powerful one, taking the reader on a crushing journey from the protagonist’s perspective. In my opinion, using this inner thoughts method was brave as it could easily have isolated the other characters. This was by no means the case. And then came another delightful surprise. Plentiful dialogue between her heroine and the other characters was executed in such a way that I couldn’t pull myself away. The true-to-life plot is remarkably good, and it’s clear to see from this book and others from Brae that’s she’s a well-travelled woman. Her description of places and happenings gave me a certain déjà vu feeling, bringing out all the smiles, sometimes tears. And not only did the fish and chips scenario make me chuckle, but the mentioning of Spanish cities and wording was delightfully spot on.
I found it a tad difficult connecting with Carin Frost straightaway. If she hadn’t been so indecisive and got to grips with her issues earlier which was what I wanted, maybe I would have thought differently. Ahh, but later I realized how unfair my opinion of her was. The author clearly wanted me to suffer. Because I did…and a lot. With so much to lose, what’s there to gain by upsetting life’s balance when it appears that you have everything? Granted, she works long hours, is away from home more often than not and responsible for the running of a multinational business. A loving family, a husband who’s attentive and an adorable son wise beyond his years, yet with her admission, even when her selfishness was manifested, it became a welcome reprieve.
‘When you open up to even your closest allies, they always turn your deepest darkest secrets against you.’
Carin’s personal conflicts became mine and despite those around her having a very good idea she’s in pain, they don’t know to what extent. Unless she opens her heart to those who care for her, neither she nor they can move on. I’m sure many of us have had at one point or another experienced distress similar to hers. Illness, vulnerability in relationships, losing someone dear, these factors and more affect us deeply and we’re at a loss. Although her guilt is excruciatingly heartbreaking to read, I never ever blamed Carin for her actions. Intent on finding the peace of mind she desperately needs, I thought she would eventually find it. I’m leaving this question open for you. Will she?
‘I should be grateful, my life is so good. I have nothing to complain about. They’ve been trying to get me back, but I’m so far gone. I’m so far gone!’
Matias Torres is a successful Spanish businessman, drop-dead gorgeous, well-mannered and outwardly calms troubled waters. Inwardly, he also has problems of his own but of a different kind. Carin and Matias’ magnetic attraction for each other leaps off the pages. She tries to ward him off…well, as much as is possible and goes out of her way not to be around him. Still, all is not what it seems.
“When he’s around, I live a few brief moments. And then I die again.”
Here’s one totally smitten guy who’s respectful of her wishes. In one scene which left me aghast, he convinces her to take a running jump into the unknown. If Carin’s state of mind worried me, Matias’ worried me more. Why, when he has such a promising future, did he go to such extremes? Easy to answer, love. But in all its fragility and with so much at stake, trying his hardest to help Carin feel at ease with herself might not be enough.
“Could love come that quickly? Could it die in haste too?”
The before and the after. Part II is a game-changer. If I cried in the first half, heartfelt scenes in the second left me with a feeling of utter joy. Yet Brae still kept that sense of the fragility going. She gave me hope, she made me take a serious look at things we take for granted. Surrounding ourselves with seemly essential things that make us happy in Carin’s book, isn’t the answer. Actually, Brae’s look on life is nothing less than awe-inspiring, her descriptive writing which took me to paradise, out of this world.
‘We steal the moments that belong to others.’
Sadly, Christine’s creative penmanship we shall see no more. I can’t thank her enough for leaving us this legacy of characters impossible to forget, impossible to say goodbye to. The Year I Left is a masterpiece, it is everything. Brae coaxed every imaginable emotion out of me and had me rooting for both Carin and Matias. After turning the last page, I quite honestly didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or shout at the top of my voice. Not at all expected, it was an ending for a beginning. Or was it really? A love story with a difference, a top-quality romance not to be missed. Bravo!
‘Every beginning has an end. And every end starts with a beginning.’
Thank you Ashley Baker for making these beautiful teasers with our favourite quotes!
Christine Brae is a full-time career woman who thought she could write a book about her life and then run away as far as possible from it. She never imagined that her words would touch the hearts of so many women with the same story to tell. Her second book, His Wounded Light was released in December, 2013.
Christine’s third book, Insipid, is a standalone that was released in June, 2014, and her fourth book, In This Life, released in January 2016.
Her latest work, Eight Goodbyes was released on August 28, 2018.
When not listening to the voices in her head or spending late nights at the office, Christine can be seen shopping for shoes and purses, running a half marathon or spending time with her husband and three children in Chicago.
Christine is represented by Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo Helin Literary Management.
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