Hello, my lovelies!
This really is a wonderful debut novel and I am so happy that it has now become my turn on the blog tour. Besides my review, you will find the book trailer and a giveaway.
Two women. Carly and Tabitha. They each have suffered life-altering events that have left them both traumatically damaged.
Carly Sloan’s life was perfect until her security and innocence was torn from her. The vast repercussions from horrific events threaten to destroy her stability and her chances for a happily ever after. Kyle Finnegan comes into Carly’s life at the height of her turmoil. Can he help her find what she desires most?
Tabitha Fletcher has constantly suffered from a very young age. She has been hiding from her past, which was full of sadness, loss and abuse. She has been so brutally damaged that she has very little hope for redemption. The revolving door of men only leads her deeper into misery.
What circumstance brings these two women together and can they help each other heal? And will they each find what they need?
“Dear Emily” is the first book in the “Forever Family” series.
This book is not suitable for young readers. It is intended for mature adults only (18+). It contains strong language, adult/sexual situations, non-consensual sex and some violence.
ARC received by the author in exchange for an honest review
When I read the synopsis of this book, I was not entirely sure if it would be to my liking, but I am happy to say that I was completely invested in the book after having read the first few chapters. It is a beautifully written story about surviving horrific pasts, about hope, loss, and, ultimately, love.
The story centres around two women, Carly and Tabitha, who, although coming from entirely different upbringings, both have suffered in the past and who become connected through an unborn child, Emily. We are told their different stories through both past and present and through alternate POVs, and I for one was never confused when the timelines and POVs changed from one character to the other.
The prologue of the book is very difficult to read as it describes how Carly is raped one night – her virginity is stolen from her in the most brutal and horrific way – and as is the case with many rape victims, she chooses to try to forget about the entire experience. She is not being left alone to do that, though: her friends – Becca, Callie and Manny – corner her a few weeks later over wine (later known as Wine Wednesday) and she tells them about the rape. Naturally, she is comforted by them all, and they convince her to go to the clinic on campus to get a physical exam done.
After having had many tests done, Carly finds out that she has been infected with chlamydia, and this will prove to have an important impact on her life later on.
When reading Carly’s story, we are also introduced to Kyle who is so warm, caring and, quite literally, Carly’s hero later in the book. Obviously, I do not want to give too much away, but let me just tell you this: Kyle shows Carly what it means to be loved unconditionally, he gives her strength and he helps her overcoming the rape and gives her hope for a wonderful future.
“I love this man with all that I am and I love the father he is going to be.” (Carly)
Now, Tabitha is an entirely different character from Carly: having been abandoned by her biological mother just hours after she was born, she grew up in different foster homes. Her first foster mother was tragically killed when Tabitha was only 7 years old, and she was never given the same kind of love afterwards.
“I have no one. I’m alone. Alone in the present and alone with my past. Alone with my demons.” (Tabitha)
Tabitha is so lost and lonely, and your heart will ache while reading her story. She is pregnant for the second time in her young life (she is only 21 years old) and as with her previous child, she has decided to give up this one – Emily – for adoption. This is how Carly and Tabitha’s lives become entwined, and as I stated above, these two women are so different from each other. But one thing that binds them is their love for baby Emily.
Even though Tabitha has made some bad choices in the past, I do not blame her at all. She is yearning to have what Carly has – a loving, doting husband – but she does not really know how to get what she wants. She is, after all, very young and she needs to heal and find her place in the world before she is able to move on in life.
Reading about these women made me feel so many different emotions: sadness, for one, but also happiness and hope. I was torn between wanting Tabitha to keep Emily and knowing that, given her situation, it just was not possible, and then hoping, until the very end, that Carly and Kyle would get their “Forever Family” like they had always wanted.
Learning all about Carly’s feelings towards her unborn child, reading her journal entries, made me cry many times. And you should know by now that evoking tears is the greatest gift an author can give me because it makes me FEEL, it makes me truly believe in the characters, and – what is just as important – it means that the story is REAL to me. Miss Stiles truly made me believe in her story – the pace is never rushed, and the secondary characters all compliment the main characters. I honestly believe that this author is very talented as her writing sucked me right in from the beginning.
Now, the epilogue…well, again, I do not want to say too much, BUT I have to warn you by telling you this: Tabitha’s story does not end in this book. I find myself happy with this fact, actually, because I really long for her to find her happy-ever-after. This is one cliffhanger I do not mind one bit!
All in all, I loved this story. It is written with passion, and the only thing I miss is that I would have liked to get more scenes with Carly and Kyle in the past – while they were still in college – but that is just personal preference as I am a real romance junkie (*wink*). I really cannot wait to read the next book in this series.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Trudy Stiles is a New Adult author, avid reader, mom to two beautiful children and married to the love of her life. She just wrote her debut novel, “Dear Emily, and cannot wait to share it with everyone.You’ll know that she’s writing when you see her plugged into her laptop with her earbuds and she always has a playlist ready for her writing sprints.When she’s not writing, she’s carting her children to their various activities while avoiding any kind of laundry or housework. She also loves to run along the boardwalk of the beautiful New Jersey shore.She’s always been an avid reader and frequently escapes into the fictional worlds of the many characters that she has come to love. Well now there are some fictional characters in her head dying to get out! This first story is called “Dear Emily” and will begin the “Forever Family” series.
Here is the book trailer, girls!
Dear Emily from t. h. snyder on Vimeo.
And be sure to enter the giveaway!