Opening a new Fisher Amelie book is an adventure in itself, perhaps akin to the feeling of standing upon a cliff, high above a whimsical but luring sea, basking in the beauty of the landscape before us, while pins and needles tingle our skin from the sheer magnitude of the jump that is ahead of us. We know that once we leap forward, the free-fall might exhilarate us, but the sea will inevitably then greedily engulf us and force us to fight for our next breath. And yet nothing compares to the thrill of those few stolen breaths, of those powerful moments of struggle against a mighty foe, because we know, we just know we will eventually come up for air, find the sun again, and immediately start looking forward to climbing our next cliff. Every story in this extraordinary series has brought light to a ‘great foe’, a social issue that is quietly bringing our society to its knees, humbling us daily and putting our entire lives into perspective. But in every story a bright beacon of hope has also emerged—powered by love, self-sacrifice, kindness—and this story is no exception. From the angry ashes of loss and despair, a phoenix of courage is born, boldly taking flight and thus freeing itself from the shackles of its own pain. This is a story of two broken people who find their way to each other by facing their worst fears and embracing a new purpose in life. It’s a story of hope, forgiveness, atonement and a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love—pure, selfless, compassionate—a love that erases all hurts and fills all voids. I adored this book, as all its wonderful predecessors, and remain in awe of the thoughtfulness it takes to write a story such as this.
“The fury raging in my blood was more than I could contain.”
Ethan Moonsong is an angry young man, drowning in a sea of uncontrollable rage and resentment because he is incapable of voicing his pain. Unable to cope with the loss of his fiancé to another man, and still clinging to a romanticised idea of what that relationship meant to him, he has channelled all his anger into a misguided need for revenge, with each passing day losing more and more of himself to the fury that boils inside him. Until an auburn-haired spitfire re-enters his life and shows him all that he’s been too blind to see.
“Don’t you want forever with someone who burns for you the way you burn for her? You deserve that just as much as she does.”
Finley Dyer has never let her painful past define her, bravely shouldering the weight of her memories and making the most of each day in her life with a bright smile on her face and a spring in her step. Straightforward, confident, and full of life, she comes across as fearless and uninhibited, but deep inside this young woman hides a suppressed anger even more destructive than Ethan’s, an anger that makes her feel lonely, unloved, an anger that she has learned to control, but is yet to fully rid herself of.
“So you got your heart broken. So what! There are worse things, you know. There are things out there that would curl your toes to know about, Ethan.”
Finley’s past takes them far away from the safety of their small home town in Montana, to a place where their most basic instincts come to life, in search of retribution, justice, hope, and a little peace for Finley’s broken soul. But igniting Ethan’s inherent protective streak and thus unleashing the fury brewing inside him proves to be both a blessing and a curse, each day his conscience growing heavier, and the marks on his soul etching themselves deeper and deeper as he tiptoes the fine line between right and wrong. Each day he fights to erase Finley’s scars, to make himself worthy of her love, but in a world where justice is always a step beyond their grasp, his every action only puts the young lovers’ future in jeopardy even before it started.
“She’d become more important to me than myself.”
An extraordinary tale that I cannot even begin to analyse without giving too much away and depriving you of some crucial twists and turns in the storyline—this is a book I awaited for so long and it did not disappoint in the least. Ethan and Finley are two characters that I understood, empathised with, became invested in. I loved the subtle manner in which their romance was presented to the reader, almost platonically, where all focus remained on the nature of their connection and little or no importance was given to the more intimate aspects of their relationship. I understood the reasons for such an omission, even though I would have wholeheartedly welcomed that facet of their romance too. A beautiful friends to lovers story, a great addition to the series, an unforgettable journey.
“I love you. I love you because I can, because it’s my right to. I love you because I want to. I love you because it was my choice. You are my choice, Ethan.”
“I’m not afraid of death, Ethan.”
“Is death a possibility?”
“It is. I’m prepared for it. Plus, I’m carrying hope with me, so I’m cool.”
I turned toward her, my left ear sinking into the lake. “Finley, you’re not even the slightest bit afraid?”
She looked at me, the lake water rippling from her movement. “Ethan, you can choose to hope or you can choose to fear. Fear is a crippling disease. It takes over and paralyzes. Hope bolsters, motivates. People who fear, die. People who hope, live. Even in death they live.”
I let her words sink into me while we paddled closer to shore to prevent ourselves from drifting too far. We did this when the music started to feel too distant. We floated in silence, listening to her dynamite playlist and memorizing the stars and moon.
“Finley?” I asked a half hour later.
“You said at the bar that we were never friends in high school.”
I turned toward her again, our bodies rippling with the movement. “Do you really believe that?”
She sighed toward the stars. “Yeah, I do.”
“That’s bullshit,” I said matter-of-factly.
She didn’t respond, but I could practically feel her eyes roll.
“It’s bullshit,” I explained, “because there’s still merit in small conversations. Yeah, we might not have waxed philosophic, but we most definitely talked real life. I think you forgot that. To be honest, those seemingly nothing talks to you meant so much to me.” She furrowed her brow. “I needed to talk to someone so badly at that time about regular things, regular life. I was overwhelmed with responsibility then and felt like I was drowning. I found solace in our synoptic talks, Finley. I found worth in the culmination of those hundreds of hours we spent in one another’s company. I didn’t do that with anyone else.” I paused. “You were a soft place to fall,” I whispered.