There is something quite exhilarating about reading an author’s work for the very first time, but even more so when you dive into their book choosing to know absolutely nothing about it and letting it transport your heart and mind wherever it wishes. I wanted to get a taste of Ms Rayven’s writing in a way that it could literally take me anywhere, allowing the distinct style of her prose to pull me in slowly, word by word, and with no expectations whatsoever. But I had no idea I was in for such a huge surprise! This was truly one of the most well-rounded, complete stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading, with the perfect balance of humour, steam and angst, and absolutely impossible to put down. Leisa Rayven is a gifted storyteller whose apparent emotional intelligence injects a remarkable level of self-awareness into her characters, turning them into compelling individuals that we understand, care for, and whose happiness we earnestly count on. As I found myself highlighting entire passages, nodding vigorously at each single word in them, I realized I had just found a new author to love. And that is no small feat.
“Working with a man who lights up my libido like the Vegas strip isn’t my idea of a good time.”
Elissa Holt might be one of the youngest and most respected stage managers on Broadway, her professionalism and integrity being something she works incessantly to uphold, but her life is suddenly thrown into a spin when two of Hollywood’s hottest commodities are set to star in her upcoming production, one of them being the only man she’s ever loved—the very man who broke her heart and left her behind to pursue stardom—now engaged to his co-star.
“Heartache doesn’t teach you to be resilient. It teaches you to protect your fragility. It teaches you to fear love. And it draws a bright red circle around all the ways you’ve failed as a person and laughs while you cry.”
Liam Quinn was only a wannabe twenty-two-year-old actor when he met Elissa, but the spark between them was instant. From the moment they laid eyes on one another, they recognised the rare pull between them, and they might have only known each other for a few months after that, but they never forgot the brief, passionate affair they once shared. Six years have passed since then, but emotionally, Elissa has not moved on at all. Her heart still yearns for the man who was never hers in the first place, and it never fails to skip a beat every time she hears his name. Now faced with him in the flesh again, with his beautiful fiancée at his side, Elissa is forced to confront her heartache head-on, putting aside her feelings and acting like the consummate professional she has worked hard to become. Even though her body cannot stop reacting to him.
“Could you please stop talking to me like you’re my bank manager? Like we don’t even know each other?”
“I don’t know you anymore.”
“You’re the only one who’s ever known me.”
As the production of the show slowly gains ground, Elissa and Liam’s past and present collide more and more each day, the remnants of what they once had refusing to be ignored, but trust can take longer to heal than a broken heart, and not trusting yourself with your own heart again is something the heroine has known for six long years. With painstaking attention to detail and true to the charismatic characters she has created, the author takes us on an emotional journey of second chances, of learning when to let your heart love again, and of never ever giving up on true love.
“…the deepest parts of me know without a doubt that the only man on this planet who could ever make you truly, deeply happy … is me.”
With an astonishing knack for effective, compelling characterization by truly mastering subtlety and nuance, Ms Rayven effortlessly infuses the story with the perfect balance of inner conflict versus exterior conflict, immediately hooking us to her characters and making us part of the journey that is set before them. There are so many inspiring messages interwoven into the story itself that inevitably led me to countless moments of introspection and soul-searching, as only a handful of books have ever succeeded in doing, and for that alone, I’d describe this story as truly exceptional. This book is a true delight for all the romantics at heart seeking stories that won’t compromise on strong heroines or resonant plotlines, all the while delivering a tale of never-ending love that will somehow make your toes curl and your skin tingle as your heart grows tenfold. An absolute must-read.
“One day, fate’s going to fix this. Bring us back together. I believe that.”