on December 13, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance, Second Chance Romance, Young Adult
My Josh. His Beth. Someone else’s Meredith.
Destined to fall apart before their lips have even touched, Samuel Michaels and Meredith Driessen have seven years of almosts between them.
Seven years ago, a night by the river would bind them together. Seven years ago, Sam’s entire world blew up before his eyes.
His only saviour …
She saved his life, exposing him to what it could be like to be with her. But that wasn’t Life’s plan. Because deep down, his secrets will destroy their lives and separate them. His secrets will break both their hearts until the day he finds her standing on the edge of the train platform, completely lost.
He did this to her.
And Sam knows that if he doesn’t go to her, he’ll lose her forever.
Will seven years be enough to mend their scars? Or will the secrets they both keep deny them once more?
One thing is certain …
You may never know tomorrow’s sunlight if you’re drowning in yesterday’s storm.
“You may never know tomorrow’s sunlight if you’re drowning in yesterday’s storm.”
I don’t know a single thing to say regarding the plot that won’t giveaway a spoiler so I won’t say a thing about it! Plus I don’t like to rehash a blurb or a story. If you want to find out what happens, read the book. The rest of this review will solely be my thoughts after finishing The First Touch of Sunlight.
“For you, Sam, I would never hesitate.”
This isn’t the heaviest book I’ve ever read but there are definitely a few scenes that are hard or extremely sad to read. Both of these characters have difficult pasts. Not only when hearing about the actual events that have taken place but how these events have shifted the main characters’ perception of themselves. The inner monologues and their struggles that they try so hard to keep buried are heartbreaking. It’s not for the faint of heart; there’re plenty of emotions that pack a powerful punch.
“Let me save you, Sam.”
Let me drown, Meredith.
Not only do we get multiple POVs (told in 3rd person narrative), but this book also switches from past to present and back again. Yes, there’s a lot of emotions in this book but they’re not all sad or tragic! The past deals more with the heavy stuff. It can at times be depressing, it’s full of angst (seriously, hello angst!) but Sam is also kind of swoony when he’s not being an idiot, and I loved the past version of Meredith. It’s so easy to see why Sam was drawn to her and likewise.
“There you are,” she said to her heart as she felt its rapid beats against her hand. “You’ve been gone for seven years … You should have stayed gone.”
On the flip side to the heaviness, I really enjoyed how in the present tense, while yes there was still some angst, it has a very hopeful feel. I could just feel it, everything was going to finally go right for these two and I loved it!
Sam’s struggle to do the right thing was such a visceral feeling, it came right off the page. I know he (understandably) struggled with not only the decision he made but also with how he had to keep everything a secret, but I felt so bad. Sometimes you just need a hug and for someone to tell you everything will be okay. Or in Sam’s case, that came in the form of Meredith, his first touch of sunlight, walking him through the darkness.
“Doing the right thing involved wrongness. But maybe that was what doing the right thing meant. If it were too easy, it wouldn’t be difficult, and it wouldn’t be justified. Right felt like wrong. And wrong certainly felt right. The way he felt for Meredith aligned with both. His heart torn over wanting, needing, and releasing her. For Sam, it felt as if his love for her was destined to fail before it even had the chance to bloom.”
Take in account your normal triggers before you read this book. There are some issues in which may cause distress but I won’t spoil. If you need to know, message me. I thought they were dealt with in a delicate and tasteful manners so I wouldn’t really anticipate there being any problems.
When I first finished reading this book, I didn’t rate it. I didn’t rate it and all I wrote for a review was a small comment about how this will be my most difficult review to write. And it sucks that because of this, I feel like I’m not able to put everything forward and write a review strong enough to do this book justice. I’m still reeling, even days later. I was such a mess that night. Here’s the deal: I don’t have triggers in books, or at least, that’s what I thought until I read this story. I in no way would’ve stopped reading once I came across these issues but truth be told, if I knew ahead of time, I would’ve skipped it. Now what I’m talking about isn’t your normal type of trigger, it has to do with a train. Yes, you know, the ones that travel on rail road tracks, some carry people, some cargo, they go fast, yada yada yada. When I was in college, the town I lived in had a set of tracks running right down the middle of town. Long story short and skipping a bunch of details, in my first year of college, my friend’s truck was hit by a train. She was fine, the passenger ended up in a coma. He’s okay today though took years and years of rehab. In my second year, an acquaintance and good friend of my roommate was hit by a train. He died that night. So for me to read a story where a character is contemplating suicide or in a different circumstance is standing near/in train tracks, I don’t handle it well. I think this is a big reason why I was such a mess. To this day, I will not voluntarily go near them if I can avoid it.
Sometimes when reading a book you can just feel how strongly the characters need to be together and that’s exactly the case with Sam and Mere. I love when this happens. When the characters are so potent and vibrant that you need them together just so your own heart doesn’t break. The Furst Touch of Sunlight is about two characters with lost and broken souls finding solace, comfort, acceptance and love in each other.
His lips found her forehead, stopping her from continuing, terrified of what would roll off her tongue. “I want to make sure you love someone worth your time, Meredith.”
“Sam,” she breathed. “You’re worth all the time in the world. Every second, of every minute, of every day in a year.”
“Why me?” he asked unbelievably.
“Why not you?”
“Because I’m no one special.”
Meredith grasped his shirt between her fingers. “That’s why. You have no idea how special you are.”
I really did love this story. It wasn’t perfect, I did still have a few questions at the end or I wasn’t sure exactly of the character’s motives, but it reads like it is. Sure I questions certain small decisions here and there, but for the author to then turn around and make me 100% believe in the characters and their actions, that’s saying something.
A big thing I noticed was that The First Touch of Sunlight reads like a bestseller. It’s incredibly polished and written with precise details and dialogue. The author conveys each exact nuance needed to have the characters portrayed properly, and with how much intensity there is in this story, it would’ve been easy to go overboard and over the top, but Len didn’t. She let her characters do the work and show the reader who they are.
“Do you believe in true love?”
The flash of fear in her eyes had his heart clenching in his chest.
He used to.
Until his father had walked out on his family.
“I believe in you,” he answered without hesitation.
Her eyes widened. “Is that equivalent?”
“No, it’s more, Meredith. So much more.”
All she did was blink at him.
It was always so much more with Meredith Driessen.
My one issue with this has to do around the ‘big secret’ and what it really means for Sam. First of all, he’s an idiot. Good, I just wanted to get that out of the way. But my issue is more so with how long the secret dragged on and on for. Could it have been revealed earlier? I kind of wish so, because it was starting to get annoying hearing how ‘my secret will break her; my secret will this/that/changes everything, ruin our chances.’ etc. when no one had any idea what the heck was going on. Would this secret really have changed everything in the way the characters were expecting? I have no idea, but I’d imagine at 18 sometimes it feels like up there’s only one option. Maybe even a few more clues would’ve helped here. But once we did know, it killed me that Sam kept it from Meredith. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand it! But my heart hurt for that girl so bad.
So here’s the kicker: I went into this, not expecting an emotional story. Sure I assumed angst and considering I’m an angst whore, why wouldn’t I want this book? But I didn’t expect to cry. I’m totally okay with crying in books, it happens, but I never cry unless it’s something major. I can count on one hand how many books have made me ugly cry and this is freaking up there! This is number 5! 5 books ever have made me ugly cry and this one.., wow. I was a mess. You know those really ugly cries with snot bubbles and you just seem to be doing a weird like gargling noise and choking on your cries? Yeah, hello, that was me. I have no shame in admitting that because *excuse my language* but holy fuck, Len got me good! This story hit me like running into a brick wall.
He let out a shaky breath as he took off his bomber jacket. Then he draped it over her shoulders, the jacket consuming her small frame. “My jacket suits you.”
“You want me to wear it?” The softness in her eyes had his heart expanding. Meredith thread her arms through the sleeves and then glanced down at what he had stitched on. “An ‘M’?”
He nodded once her eyes returned to him. “Where it should be. My heart on my sleeve.”
You never know what to expect when picking up a book by a new-to-you author, but The First Touch of Sunlight is easily a top read of 2016. An emotional story which twists together two lost souls as they battle helplessness and fight off heartbreak as they come together into a hopeful and beautiful pairing. Sam and Meredith are a couple to embrace and root for. This is the type of book that will stay with you long after you finish the last page.
Then their eyes met.
For a brief moment, he saw hope.
Relief to see him.
Their steps seemed in sync as they walked towards each other.
The girl in front of him was his sunlight.
But sometimes, even the sun had to set.
And this was that moment.
Soundtrack: Not Easy by Alex Da Kid
*An ARC was received in exchange for an honest review.
Seven years ago
It’s my fault.
It’s always my fault.
Samuel Michaels picked up the bottle of Jack Daniel’s from the passenger seat. It was lighter than before he got in the car. His mother wouldn’t be happy. Disappointed wouldn’t even come close. She couldn’t look him in the eye. Not after what had happened.
Because of Beth.
Because of what they had done.
They destroyed what they knew.
They destroyed how they lived.
Their lives would now change.
He uncapped the bottle of whiskey and brought it to his lips. He paused and stared out at the river. It had started raining almost ten minutes ago, and in those ten minutes, his phone had rung a handful of times. Looking out the windshield, he was thankful the moonlight aided in his view of the river. Sam could just make out the raging waves. A sigh had left his lips before he threw back the alcohol and felt the burning on its way down his throat. Whiskey had never been his drink. The way the liquor scorched waves in his stomach was one he hated, but for Sam, he needed strong. He didn’t want weak beer.
He wanted to be numb.
The ringing of his phone had him returning the bottle back to the seat next to him and picking it up. He saw Phillip Hall’s name flash on the screen—no doubt, his mother had called his best friend. Sam declined the call and threw his phone next to the empty bottle. It’d been over an hour since he’d run out of his house to his car. He drove to the bottle shop and then to the riverbank. It was too dark for anyone to notice his car, not unless they came close.
Sam curled his fingers tightly around the leather-wrapped steering wheel and let his forehead rest on it. He wouldn’t cry. He promised himself he wouldn’t. But the flash of Beth’s trembling lip had him sobbing. It had been a mistake. She had said that months ago, and now, that same mistake had caught up to them.
The alcohol had finally kicked in, and he no longer felt. Instead, he relished the numbness consumed by his body. He smiled and then belted out a heavy laugh.
“What the fuck has she done?” He leant back into the driver’s seat, and his hand searched the door for the handle.
The moment he found it, he opened the door and fell out of his Jeep, landing on his hands and knees. Sam ran his palms through the wet grass and rolled onto his back, laughing. Once he was able to get back on his feet, Sam lifted his arms up and down as if he were flying and stomped towards the riverbank. He let his feet sink, even squishing his shoes into the sloshy mud. He laughed like a child, continuing to march in the dark night.
When he had reached the edge of the bank, he watched the water rush past him. With the moonlight beaming from above, he was just able to see the river current drowning a log.
“I want to be that log,” Sam said as he bent down and unfastened his shoes. He removed them and placed them on the wet ground. Moisture seeped through his socks and hit his skin, causing his toes to wiggle.
“Can’t save me,” he said to the sweet and gentle voice. “I need to be the log… I need to die.” He closed his eyes and leant forward, intending to fall into the cold water and never resurface.
To be free.
The impact of the water had him opening his eyes. The current was strong, trying to force him under. His instincts had him fighting against what he had wished for. Water rushed into his mouth, and he swallowed it for air, choking him. His arms fought against the strength of the river.
“Dutch, stay!” the voice commanded.
Sam turned his head to see her. She was on her stomach, reaching for his hand. His heart had drowned at the sight of her. The look of determination on her face was one he could not miss. Sam paddled—not to reach her but to get away from her.
To die quickly.
“Sam!” she screamed and reached out further, almost falling in.
I can’t let her die.
The sight of her instantly sobered him.
Sam pulled his hand up from the water in time for her to take hold of it. He kicked his legs to get closer to the bank and to stop her from falling in. When he was close enough, she had tried to pull him out of the water, but Sam had fought her. He just wanted her to fall back on the ground.
“Stop fighting me!” she demanded loudly, tugging on his hand.
A wave hit him, dragging him under and pulling her entire arm into the water. It was a miracle he hadn’t dragged her with him. He broke through the surface, and his eyes met hers. It was too dark to see the colour, but he already knew they were a bright blue. Not dark enough to resemble the ocean, but not light like crystal clear water. The colour was somewhere between.
Sam coughed, trying to breathe in air. “My life isn’t worth much. Let me go, Meredith.”
Can’t let her die.
She gripped his hand tighter, as if she knew he was moments away from letting the current take him.
Meredith blinked once, and the fear in her eyes left her. The determination had returned along with her tears.
Meredith Driessen was crying.
Because of him.
Because she thought he was about to die.
“Your life is important to me, Sam. The moment you give up, I’m following you,” Meredith said.
Don’t save me, Meredith.
His heart squeezed in a way it had never done before. He held Meredith’s hand tighter, his lifeline.
Don’t let me live a life where I want you.
Meredith nodded. “Yes, Sam, I would. I wouldn’t hesitate.”
Don’t let me love you.
She wrapped her other hand around his arm and gave him a small smile. “Let me save you, Sam.”
Let me drown, Meredith.