Category/Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: 3/31/13
Source: Received from author for review
Rating: 3.5 stars
“I’ve been in and out of hospitals for the past ten months. I’ve had half my liver removed and even though this time the doctors are very optimistic that they’ve removed all of the tumours, they can’t be sure. In another three months they want me here again for a check up. Right now I feel better than I’ve ever felt. I know the damn thing is gone, at least for the moment. Despite that, I can’t make any plans for the future, not yet. I need to go somewhere where nobody knows me, where I can relax and maybe even forget about all this. Where I can meet people who don’t think of me as the girl who lost her father and her brother in a car accident, and who has cancer. I want to have fun, even if it’s for a couple of months.”
When Stella decides to visit her estranged cousin Lisa in Genoa, she has no idea Italy will give her a new reason to live.
“Her gaze locked on a scene so beautiful, the picturesque beach paled in comparison. A lifeguard emerged from the water, his orange trunks stuck to his legs and water dripping all over him. He shook his head to get rid of some of the water in his hair and Stella felt as if everything started developing in slow motion – tiny drops of water slid from his neck down his broad chest and muscular arms, along a weaving tattoo on his right shoulder, and continued downwards towards his chest and washboard stomach, finally getting lost in the waistband of his trunks. A part of another tattoo peeked over his trunks on his left hip, the other part hidden under them. It was a total Baywatch moment.”
Their love is epic. But there are too many things keeping them apart.
“How could you keep this from me, Lisa? If you had told me the first day I met him, I would have avoided him like the plague. Nothing would have happened between us.”
“I kept your secrets, too, Stella.”
Are Max and Stella strong enough to fight not only for their love, but for their lives?
I chose to read In a Heartbeat for a few different reasons. What first grabbed my attention was the gorgeous cover. I love the black and white (-ish?) photo with the splash of color in the font and the cover model's nail. I also was interested in the European setting, particularly Italy. Even though I'm 1/8 Italian, a book is likely the closest I'm going to get to Italy until my kids graduate. And most surprising, considering how anti-cancer books/movies I am, occasionally I like to test my feels to see if they still work. I don't mind crying happy tears -- I welcome that -- but sad, somebody's going to die tears are not something I'm fond of in books and movies.
In a Heartbeat also provides another theme that pulled my interest, how fleeting life is. How everything can literally change in a heartbeat. This is what drives the heroine, Stella's, life. Her father and brother, taken in a heartbeat. Her health, taken in a heartbeat. It's not something I like to think about, but it is a fact of life. After years of living in perpetual fear, and knowing her health is still at risk, Stella is ready to take a summer and live it the way she wants.
The story started out a bit slow for me, with the establishment of Stella's past, her current health status, and gives motivation to why she's prepared to leave her home for the summer. To stay with family in Italy and live the next three months to the fullest. Once she meets Max, the story does become a little more intriguing, but still, a bit slow moving. This isn't always the case for me, but the third-person narration did make it a bit difficult for me to get into the story for a while.
I guess I would describe it as a slow burn. I won't complain about it, though, because the author does take the time to let the characters get to know one another. But I felt like not a lot was happening, besides Stella swaying back-and-forth over whether to become involved with Max. And honestly, the girl is nineteen years old, and has gone through more than most. If any heroine has reason to be wishy-washy, it's Stella.
The second half of the In a Heartbeat really picked up on intensity, and I found myself caring about Max and Stella. There's also a bit of a side story involving Stella's cousin Lisa. At first this seemed irrelevant to the main story, but it actually served a purpose in helping Stella move forward. Anyway, back to Max and Stella, I liked them as a couple. The author made me believe in their feelings, and I was hoping against fate for a happy ending. Did they get one? I won't say, but I will say that the epilogue came as a but of a surprise. A pleasant surprise.
And yes, In a Heartbeat is a standalone. But, there is a companion Then, Now, Forever coming soon. This is Max's best friend, Beppe, and sister Gia's story. Based on what we get of them in In a Heartbeat (it's sooo good!), I've already put it on my to-read list.
He had black shorts on and nothing else. The muscles on his chest, arms and shoulders flexed with every step he took. The tattoo on his hip moved in sync with his body and at that moment all Stella wanted to do was yank his shorts down and explore it. With her mouth. ~ebook, 8%
She had no intention of shoving him away, because he'd been the best thing to happen in her life for quite a while, and for the first time since she could remember, Stella wanted to be selfish.
Live for the moment.
Because life was too damn short. ~ebook, 39%
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