on June 28, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
-Mila-“Don’t let go.” Those were my first words to him, as I hung over the side of a London bridge. The words I would soon say again, in a moment that didn’t involve bridges, but something much more fragile: my heart.
He held onto me for three weeks, in a time when I needed to be held. Needed to connect to someone who understood how loss tunneled unrepentantly through the fabric of your soul.
Although he said he'd stay, we both knew he wouldn't. I had already survived one loss—I didn't know if I'd survive another.
-Ames-She spun into my life like a tornado of smiles and chatter and everything else I'd long avoided, with a persistence that I admired, albeit begrudgingly. She broke down each neat wall I’d constructed without even trying. Her presence alone caused me to remember what it felt like to smile, to look forward to what the day would bring.
But it was only supposed to last three weeks.
“Don’t let go,” she’d pleaded.
I’d promised her I wouldn’t—but I would. I didn't have a choice.
Sometimes my reviews are funny, clever, sassy, or ranty. Sometimes they’re aloof, off putting, angry, or just downright foolish. BUT! I’m honest, and always will be. People may not always agree with my reviews or how I write them, but they’re my personal thoughts. On that note, opposed to all of those aforementioned options, this review is going to be a personal one. Not something I’ve sat down and analyzed, I haven’t planned it out for what paragraphs I’ll write or what I might skip over, I just opened a new page and started typing.
“Thank you, Ames.” He lifted his head, eyes connecting with mine from across the room. “For not letting go.” I gave him a small smile just before I pushed out the door.
I’ve never been in love, but just like everyone else in this world, one day I hope to feel truly loved and accepted. And while no, I don’t mean the kind of love that my excellent family has stowed upon me, but the consuming and provoking type of love. Where you’re cherished and valued, treated as more than an equal and like your ideas, thoughts and expressions are not only important, but nurtured. Now with this being said, I don’t just mean that a girl should feel this way from her man, but visa versa as well. Doesn’t everyone want that feeling? I’ve never had it, but I can hope that one day, I happen to find a man who can treat me how Ames treated Mila.
“I only make promises I know I can keep.”
A new light came over her. “On the bridge. You promised you wouldn’t let go of me.”
I nodded and hoped she saw the sincerity in my eyes. “I don’t promise things that I don’t know, with absolute sincerity, I can fulfill.”
“But you weren’t able to pull me over the railing. Eventually, you would’ve had to let me go.” I shook my head, and turned more fully toward her. I tightened my grip on her, not painfully so, but to emphasize how serious my next words were. “I meant it. I would’ve fallen in with you before I would’ve let go of you.”
“Oh.” Her voice had taken on a whisper of air—like she was suddenly weightless. She didn’t stop looking at me. It was if my words had suddenly taken on weight, making me feel completely grounded, stilled to stone.
And then, she blurted, “Why?”
I blinked. “Because I didn’t want you to be alone.”
^I think I squeaked a little when I read that.
Romance novels often have a negative connotation to them in the ‘real world’, to the point were I have at times felt embarrassed to tell people what I prefer to read. Partially because I don’t always have a lot of confidence, but also because people just associate it with your mother’s smut books from the 1980s (or so I’m assuming. Also not suggesting that there is anything wrong with these books, just not my thing). They don’t care to understand what romance in this day and age is about, they just judge, so I’ve always brushed this question off. But you know what? I read romance because I’m sick and tired of all the bad shit happening in the world. We deal with that enough in our day to day lives, I don’t need to read about it in fiction as well. I’m a huge believer that if we spread a little more love, we wouldn’t have as much violence. When there’s more love in your heart and your mind, there’s less room for the bad. Now, all of this was just sort of a roundabout way of getting to my next point, and that’s this: The Weight of Life reminds me of why I fell in love with reading romance books. Not only did we get a story about two deserving people falling in love, but we got a complete story about characters and their growth, perseverance, morals, and even their outlooks on life. Barbetti shows the reader exactly what it feels like (I can imagine) to fall in love with someone who so unexpectedly breezed into your life and left an impact. These two were open with each other and extremely vulnerable, even early on. They didn’t want to give it a chance and had so many reasons not to, but they showed us that sometimes all you need is one reason why you should try. I think the best things in life happen unplanned, and that’s exactly how the relationship between Mila and Ames came about. This story just felt so organic, like I was sitting in the street people watching and spotted them, or like I was a customer in Ames’ bar (HA!) watching it unfold. With the industry being so saturated, everyone wants to up their game. Make the hero more alpha, the heroine more broken, the sex hotter, the risks bigger, the drama more outrageous. But what about those stories where two people can just quietly fall in love without putting on a big production? To each their own, but these are the stories that I prefer, and that’s exactly what TWOL is.
“He tasted like heartbreak and hope.”
I guess I should probably talk about the characters and how they had issues, how one was running and the other was hiding, how they grew with each other and the like. But what I’m going to do is leave those discoveries for you to find. What I would prefer to say is how Ames was one of the most romantic heroes that I’ve ever had the privilege to read. He understood the importance of small gestures and touches, tenderness, of letting the heroine know he was thinking of her or wanted her close by just because. How he liked to make her smile or laugh, he’d take her to places that she would appreciate because they meant a lot to him. Then on the flip side, how Mila could be the sounding board to get Ames out of his head. The sunlight to his darkness, and music in his quiet world. She taught him how to live again and feel.
“I don’t know what we’re doing. I don’t have any answers. I’m not looking for a relationship, especially not one with an expiration date.”
Her bottom lip jutted out and I glided my thumbs along her jaw. “But there’s one thing I do know, without a shred of doubt, and that’s when I touch you, I go a little stupid.” I felt her throat jump under my caressing. “You have an effect on me that I don’t want—but now that I know it exists, I don’t want to let go of it.”
I held her eyes as long as I could. “I promise.”
One of my favourite parts of this book was Mila’s outlook on the hand she had been dealt, and how this changed the way Ames looked and reacted to certain things out of his control. This novel is a complete standalone, but set in the same world as Into The Tomorrows and Back to Yesterday, so there are repeating characters. In the first book especially, I really wasn’t a fan of Mila, and with good reason. But wow, do I love when an author redeems a character for me! Mila is now one of my favourite heroines.
Without spoiling any of the stories, Mila has an extremely hard time with a promise that she was forced to keep. Not only this, but the fact that she had dealt with and witnessed so much, so recently, and was still able to smile and be happy. This doesn’t mean she felt the pain any less, just that she wasn’t letting it define her life. This value and this outlook on life was so amazing to me, I felt like it just opened my eyes to different ways of dealing with things. Stuff goes wrong. People make mistakes. Bad things happen. But these can’t (and shouldn’t) let you stop your life just to dwell in them. Otherwise, you’ll never start living again. Mila takes this and applies it to everything and everyone which was so incredible to witness. This book was everything that I didn’t know I needed in my life. A definite top favourite of the year.
“I thought to myself, this woman has never touched any sadness in her life.”
I let that sink in as my heart tumbled just a bit in my chest. “Well, that’s not true. I’ve touched sadness. But I refuse to let it consume who I am.”
“It’s a choice—to wallow in despair or to acknowledge what can still bring happiness to my life. And I’m choosing to live despite the heartache.”
I really liked the different emotions that are associated with the stories too. With Trista and Jude, the (I don’t really want to call it a theme but I’m going to call it a theme) theme was sorrow, whereas with Mila and Ames it’s heartbreak. And sort of along the same note, yes, Barbetti writes super angsty goodness that I love so much, but this book isn’t overbearing. At times, heavy, sure, but other times there are so many feels and smiles and laughs that you can’t help but join in. Then when she hits you with the angst, it is ANGST. This woman knows how to not only execute a novel, but write a story that her readers want to read. It’s exceptional. From her sentence structure to the research she does, to crafting her characters to imagery to even the dialect of being in a foreign (to the heroine) country. You can feel the love this author has for her craft, and that’s what’s going to make her a big success.
“Don’t,” I pointed a finger at her and stood up from the bed, “tell me how to love, how to heal, how to breathe. Because you don’t even know me.”
After all of that, I feel like I hardly covered any of it but I need to stop somewhere. So really, someone hit me up, we’ll go for lunch and I’ll tell you absolutely all of my feels over this book. As for how I rate it? Who needs stars? Here Whitney, just take all of them, I don’t need them anymore. #kthxbye
Ames: I was hoping there was a trellis or something of the sort for me to climb. Romeo and Juliet, right?
Me: You were going to climb up to my room?
Ames: Yeah. But not in a creepy way. In a very suave, Romeo way. And hopefully I wouldn’t be arrested or break something on my person.
I can’t wait to return to this world. Until next time. <3
*An ARC was received in exchange for an honest review.