What an absolute mind-trip this book has been! I wish I could tell you about all the unexpected ways this story has sent my mind spinning over and over again, continuously changing my perception of it from one page to the next, but I cannot. Books like these need to be experienced with no preconceptions, no expectations, with not even an inkling of the story that the author has so meticulously woven for us, because Mia Sheridan has delivered a story like no other—a story bursting with mystery, surprises, hauntingly beautiful imagery, and a plotline that keeps slipping through our fingers until the very end. This is a book that stayed with me long after I finished it because I couldn’t stop mentally rearranging the puzzle pieces, exploring all the mind-blowing possibilities, and to be honest, I am still not quite sure I have fully grasped them all. An outstanding new novel from an author who keeps gifting us with such distinct, timeless tales of true love, always injecting them with a unique twist, and never failing to leave a deep mark on our souls with each and every one of her stories. And this book is the pinnacle of them all in my eyes—a defiant take on love, life, happily-ever-afters, and an absolute must-read for all romantics at heart.
I dreamed of her, and in the darkness, she held me in her arms. In the darkness, she whispered that I was strong enough to hold on, that I was worthy of the love she’d given, and she reminded me who I was before I was anyone at all.
Our hero is Holden Scott, a disgraced sports hero, a party animal, an addict. He has sequestered himself to a lodge in the Colorado wilderness, far away from civilisation, hoping such isolation would help him beat his addiction and provide an opportunity for some much needed soul-searching. A man on the brink of self-destruction, Holden is drowning in sadness and loneliness, but he keeps hoping for a change, hoping that he would eventually stop feeling like a bystander in his own life, hoping that someone would save him from himself. And the endless forest all around him might be the perfect setting for a desperate man’s search for himself.
Out here it didn’t matter that I had millions of dollars in the bank. It didn’t matter that I was a superstar in some people’s minds, or a tragic fuck-up in other’s. It didn’t matter that I had a Super Bowl ring or a fleet of cars. It didn’t matter because the forest didn’t care.
But Holden’s unexpected salvation comes in the form of a beautiful dark-haired girl in a white, lace dress, who seems to appear out of nowhere whenever he needs her the most. She refuses to talk about herself, to tell him much about her life or where she comes from, but her very presence heals him, gives him peace, comfort, the kind of happiness he’s never felt in his life, and makes him want to be the kind of man worthy of a woman like Lily.
The effect she had on me was new and familiar all at once—as if we really had known each other in another lifetime—and my soul held the mere hint of a memory, even if my mind and flesh were just learning her now.
Then just as quickly as she appeared in his life, she vanishes without a trace, making him wonder if he ever knew the real Lily, whether she ever felt the same, or whether she was just a figment of his imagination. Until a year later he finds himself suddenly facing her in a room full of people, and a million unanswered questions on his tongue. But nothing could ever prepare him for the answers he finally receives.
“We will never be perfect or without flaws, the lives we’ve been given are not like that. But, Lily, in my heart, you are perfect for me. Perfectly mine. And I’m yours.”
In what can only be described as a breathtaking marriage of mystery and romance, Mia Sheridan demonstrates once again her remarkable insight into the human mind and heart by giving us two complex, utterly fascinating characters whose selfless love for one another becomes their only hope in life. This is a story that delves deeply into the human psyche, into the darkness that envelopes us all, in varying degrees, and it intentionally loosens our grip on reality to show us the awe-inspiring power of true love. It might have felt like a Rubik’s cube at times, but I was quite literally hypnotised by every single mind-twisting word in it. I wished at times I could have felt a greater connection to the characters, the very nature of the mystery surrounding them becoming my greatest obstacle in fully understanding them throughout the book and bonding with them as a reader, but this did not lessen in any way my absolute enjoyment of this book as a whole, or its everlasting impression on my mind.
I am still not sure how she pulled this off, how she so seamlessly put this intricate puzzle together, but Ms Sheridan has given us an astonishing tale of an endless love that leaves us guessing until the very end. I am still reeling in its aftermath, unable to stop thinking about it, and in my eyes, that is the very mark of an extraordinary read.
“Happily ever after doesn't mean a lifetime of perfection. I don't think anyone believes that happily ever after means there are no unhappy days, even unhappy years. It means loving forever, despite all the many reasons it's easier not to."