AUTHOR: Jamie Howard
GENRE: New Adult Romance
Available @ AMAZON
RATING: 4 Stars
REVIEWER: Pistol Annie
(Copy provided in exchange for honest review.)
Bianca Easton is the perfect senator’s daughter.
Law school? Check.
Camera-ready smile? Check.
A dull and boring existence? Double check.
But that was before. Before she lost her best and only friend in a tragic accident. Before she found that friend’s unfinished bucket list. Definitely before she turned her life upside-down by deciding to stay in New York for six months to finish it.
It’s while she’s checking off her first item on the list–buy coffee for a stranger–that she meets Ian Mathis. Between the tattoo sleeve curling up his right arm, his guitar-roughened fingertips, and the secrets shadowing his past, he’s a complication Bianca doesn’t need but desperately wants.
With every item they cross off the list together, Bianca uncovers a piece of herself that she’s buried under what’s expected, all the while breaking her own rules by falling hard for Ian. But when her six months run out, Bianca has to decide if she’s willing to risk her empty but picture-perfect life for a chance at real, messy love.
This is my first book by author Jamie Howard. It won’t be my last!
The blurb does a grand job of hooking a reader’s attention. There are enough details to push readers toward reading the rest of the story. My review is spoiler-free, and I won’t be retelling the story. All the Ways You Saved Me is a standalone story and the beginning of the Love Unplugged Series. You won’t have to wait to continue the series because the other two books, The Feeling of Forever and The Way Back to Us are available now as well.
Drawn in from page one by a well-crafted and heartbreaking page-turner that is still able to put a smile on your face and happiness in your heart, Bianca Easton and Ian Mathis are engaging characters. They make you cheer for their happiness. Their first encounter is perfectly orchestrated and so much fun to watch unfold. The bucket list is priceless and carried such worthy personal and meaningful items for completion.
There is a thread of sadness running throughout this story as we watch each protagonist struggle to find peace and a path forward out of their personal darkness. That little black cloud hovers overhead a little too long though. Springsteen sings it best for me because I was certainly Waitin’ on a Sunny Day.
From a dual POV, Ian’s POV is provided via in flashbacks to his past. And that leads me to my biggest complaint overall. Too many flashbacks to earlier years in Ian’s life and a prior relationship with a girl named Maggie. With each return to the past, those interferences seemed to derail the progression of the present relationship between Ian and Bianca. Ian is a bit of a mystery man, and certainly the most confusing of the two main characters. That boy had some ‘splaining to do – his secrets were interesting though. Some of his emotions came across as a little over-the-top and a bit immature for his age and experiences in my opinion. Don’t misunderstand, I very much enjoyed the developing storyline between Ian and Bianca, but the past felt overly dramatized and overshadowed the present.
Bianca was an engaging young woman. I felt her hesitance and doubts. She, too, was very immature and weak in respect to her age, a law degree, and experiences living on her own all through college and law school. I get that she has lived her life doing exactly what was set-out for her in specifics by her parents. But I didn’t quite swallow the entirety of the explanation vs. the situation. And let’s just say that her uppity parents were pathetically nauseating. A reader can really get into that love to hate mode towards them!
A friendly suggestion: There were several places I found myself flipping backwards to gain my bearings and sense of direction. Inserting a symbol — ### — centered on a line between transitioning from one character’s POV to another, moving from scene to another, changing locales, etc. would certainly clarify and remove any uncertainty in a reader’s mind when these changes are made.
Otherwise the writing is clear and well-paced. The plot was designed to tug emotions from readers on every level. This story is a haunting and moving love story. Howard does a good job penning, as she capably weaved themes of personal growth, family relations, friendship, loss and love, and discovering oneself, in a perceptible manner.
Tender, compelling and a satisfying slice of life all rolled into a deliciously sexy love story with a satisfying happily-ever-after.