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Kate Armour and Evan Maxwell fell hard and fast for each other while attending college. Their once passionate and loving relationship ended when old scars eventually tore them apart.

Two years after their breakup, they’re each struggling to piece together what went wrong in an attempt to move forward.

Kate, a no-nonsense bartender, must face her past while attempting to focus on her future.

Evan is stifled by his bitter heart, which threatens each and every relationship he attempts after walking away from Kate.

Will life offer them a second chance at love or are old patterns simply too hard to break?


BOOK REVIEW: Champagne Toast

Melissa Brown

BOOK SERIES: 

RATING:

“I’m scared,” she says, looking into my eyes, pleading for reassurance. “Don’t be. I’m here … right in front of you. Stop pushing me away … or eventually I’ll go.”

This is the tumultuous story of Kate and Evan, two people deeply in love with each other, and their battle to find their happy ending. Over a time span of five years, we follow the ups and downs of a relationship that is tainted by mistrust, jealousy, self-doubt, pride, and eventually distance, all the while carried forward by an undeniable connection of souls that cannot fight the pull their feel towards one another.

Kate and Evan meet while both still at college, but while Evan is driven and with a clear path in front of him, having always had the loving support of his family in everything he ever did, Kate is a drifter. She works at a bar and secretly dreams of becoming a photographer, but does not have the courage or financial backing to pursue her dream. Her parents’ lack of encouragement and disparaging attitude towards her artistic affinities have shaped her into a young woman with very little self-confidence when it comes to her craft.

“… my mother has no faith in me. She thinks I’m a flake, someone who never follows through.”

Her insecurities have also affected every relationship she has ever been in, repeatedly choosing men who are not interested in ‘scratching under the surface’, and always afraid to express her true self with them. She has hopped from one relationship to another, often overlapping them, never giving herself a chance to find herself. Her track record of infidelity is more of a reflection of her low self-esteem and fear of being alone, rather than an inherent inability to commit to one man.

Until she meets Evan. They fall in love effortlessly, immediately, completely. Evan is the first boyfriend Kate has ever had who supports her unconditionally, always pushing her to want more out of life and never settle for anything less. He is her champion, her one-man-fan-club, her reason for daring to dream and want to make something of her life, but Kate’s demons are deeply rooted and inescapable. The more Evan pushes her to turn her dreams into reality, the more she feels unworthy of his love and faith in her, making her keep pushing him away. This only feeds his jealousy and suspicion that she would replace him eventually, spiralling them towards an inevitable end.

“Maybe my mother is right about me. Maybe I am a terrible investment, and Evan’s made the horrible mistake of investing himself in me. Maybe I’m nothing but a self-saboteur who pushes away anything good that comes along in my life.”

Two and a half years together and then two and a half years apart. They never stop thinking about each other, grieving the loss, aching for one another. By hearing both their voices, we feel their pain, their longing, their regret, and it breaks our hearts. They constantly crave what their let slip through their fingers, wondering whether the other has moved on, found love again, forgotten about them. Their issues of trust, both in themselves as well in each other, keep them apart but unable to move on.

“You were my first and only love, and you ripped my f*cking heart to shreds! … You demolished me! You turned me to f*cking rubble, and I’ve never been the same.”

A moving account of the turmoils of a relationship lacking the necessary foundations to survive without significant change. Time is their enemy but it is also their greatest ally as it teaches them to put things into perspective and learn from their mistakes. Nothing is rushed, nothing is forced. Through a subtle lesson of needing to believe in oneself and never expect the worst in people, Evan and Kate travel their journey honestly and willing to change for the sake of what they want the most. Each other.

You never lose faith in human nature when reading a Melissa Brown book. I believe a book often reflects that author’s general view on life and now after having read two of her novels, I want to keep ‘swimming’ in her unique brand of positivity. In true Melissa Brown style, we are given two characters to love, invest ourselves in, and cheer for. We are shown true heartbreak but we also stay confident that she would look after our hearts in the end. There is great joy and comfort in that.

A book for the heart and from the heart, a beautifully narrated story that will feed every single romantic bone in your body.

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“From the moment you walked into my life, I belonged to you, Ev. Only you.”

Original Epilogue

Enjoy a second ending that never made it into the final version of the book…

Kate

June 14, 2014

I used to think weddings were cheesy. I used to think all those girls who spent months agonizing over flowers and caterers and guest lists were wasting their time on things that just didn’t matter.

And then Evan asked me to marry him. And everything changed.

Today, just forty minutes ago, Evan became my husband and now all of those things makes sense. The flowers, the caterers, the guest list. It does matter.

I used to picture Evan and I alone on a beach, saying our vows to a judge. He and I against the world. But, I don’t feel that way anymore. We decided to have our wedding here at the Blue Door Gallery, the place where our future began. It’s cocktail hour now and all of the guests are mingling in the courtyard as the staff replaces the ceremony decor with tables and chairs for dinner.

Evan and I walk, hand in hand, as we visit with our guests. I am in awe of him as he greets each guest with a smile, a pat on the back or a warm hug. We’ve decided to keep it small—just those who matter to us the most. Giving Evan a kiss on the cheek, I say, “it’s time for me to get to work.” He shakes his head at me with a knowing smile. We hired a photographer for the event, but I can’t help myself. I want to take some on my own, with my Canon, that Evan and I can develop in our new darkroom. Evan helped me build the darkroom a few months after we moved into the apartment and has been an eager student ever since. He’s even developed a few rolls of film on his own without any help from me. And he did a pretty good job. I was really proud.

Walking a few steps away from Evan, I snap pictures of the courtyard at Blue Door. The hanging white lights connect the few trees together. I can’t wait to see them shine when we return to dance after the dinner hour. Our thirty guests mingle as they drink cocktails and munch on hors d’oeuvres.

My parents are having pleasant conversation with the Maxwells. And even though they are so different from one another, they’re all making the effort, which is all Evan and I can ask for. My relationship with Richard and Angeline isn’t perfect, but we’ve come a long way since the night my mother came to my exhibition. When I told her that this was our chosen wedding venue, her eyes filled with tears and she hugged me so tight, simply saying “Thank you.” This location is special for her, just as it is for Evan and me.

Angeline and I bonded over my dress as well. When she told me she wanted to accompany me to the bridal shop, I was floored…and then I was nervous. I was terrified that she’d want me to wear a dress that would make me look like a big meringue; something flashy and expensive, something that weighed a ton. But, she surprised me. The very first dress I tried on was just as I had imagined my dress would be. Flowing and light, classy and comfortable. And Angeline started to cry. She cried and cried without saying a word. When I asked her, “Do you like it?” She nodded emphatically as she wiped her eyes with a tissue. And in that moment, I knew it was the right dress.

Bree, who is is single once again, is talking with Evan’s friends Daphne and Tanner. They’re a very nice couple who Evan has known for several years. Even though I’ve only known them since getting back together with Evan, I am taken with them. They’re so kind to one another, so sweet and good natured. They inspire me to be a little less guarded, a little less skeptical. Daphne holds a special place in my heart ever since Evan told me about how she pushed him to trust me and to follow his heart. In many ways, that gentle redhead has changed my life and I will forever be grateful to her.

“Hey there, Bride,” Jason says as I take a few quick shots of him and his date, “I’m not sure you’re supposed to be working today. Let someone else do that.” I raise an eyebrow at my friend and he laughs, “Yeah, yeah. Okay, I get it.”

“Yep,” I smile, giving him a warm hug, raising my camera in the air, “taking pictures of this day makes me happy. It makes it complete.”

“Jason, so glad you could make it,” Evan says, extending his hand. Jason shakes Evan’s hand, pulling him in for a brief hug.

“Congratulations, man,” Jason says, raising his glass to Evan, “this is my friend, Erin.”

“It’s very nice to meet you,” Evan says to the petite girl who’s blushing like crazy. She and Jason just started dating. It’s still new and fresh and he hesitated on whether or not he should invite her to our wedding, but I insisted.

“Mind if I steal my bride away for just a minute?” Evan asks.

“Of course,” Jason replies, placing his arm around Erin as he smiles wide at the two of us.

Evan’s bride. I love the sound of that.

“You know,” Evan says as we near the center of the courtyard, “I always knew this day would come.”

“You did?” I ask, raising an eyebrow, not sure if he’s being serious or a smartass. Sometimes with Evan it’s hard to tell. And I love that.

“Yep, I always knew that no matter what mistakes we made, we’d end up just like this.” He says, running his hand down the side of my cheek, “husband and wife.”

“Husband,” I say aloud, “I like the sound of that.”

Evan kneels down before me, planting a kiss on my hand as he smirks to himself.

“What are you doing, Ev?” I ask, surprised as I look down at him with curious eyes.

“Sweets, my gorgeous wife,” he says, looking in to my eyes, “You were worth the wait.”

“As were you, Ev.” I smile down at him, doing my best not to let the tears come.

“And I’m going to be such a great husband.” He laughs as he stands.

“Oh, awfully confident there, Maxwell.” I say sarcastically.

“Yep, I am. And that’s why you love me.”

“It’s one of the many reasons, yes.”

Later, as we take our seats for dinner, Evan stands to great our small group of guests. I look at him in shock. We didn’t plan for any toasts so I wonder what he’s up to. He gives me a warm smile before addressing everyone in the room. And as he does this, I see the wait staff is passing out glasses of champagne to all of our guests, Evan and myself.

“Thank you so much for joining us today,” Evan says, taking his glass of champagne, “this is, without a doubt, the happiest day of my life. I just want to thank Kate for teaching me the most important lesson of my life.

He turns, looking me in the eye, “You’ve taught me that with faith and trust, love really is the most possible thing in the world. And I can’t thank you enough for that. I will love you forever, sweets.” A tear rolls down my cheek as I smile at my husband.

“To Kate,” Evan says, raising his glass. The crowd echoes in unison.

But, as they repeat his toast, I raise my glass and simply say, “To Evan.”

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3 Comments Hide Comments

This is an awesome review and I have decided to buy this book even if I don’t win this book. And I never looked very close at the cover, but it is really beautiful.

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