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Book CoverSandy M’s review of In This Life by Christine Brae
Contemporary Romance published by Vesuvian Books 15 Nov 16

This is one of those stories that will hit you in the solar plexis and double you over. Even if you haven’t experienced life-changing events as these characters do. The emotion they go through, from sheer joy to loss and devastation, especially when it’s thought maybe this time life will change for the better, is raw and intense. Then there’s the secrets and their subsequent revelations…

Anna is on the fast track, medical school in her foreseeable future, but when a family argument is too much, she heads to Thailand, with her best friend Dante in tow, to help out after a tsunami hits the country’s coastal region. She and Dante have been friends forever, a friendship that has stood the test of time and, unbeknownst to them both, is heading toward its most heartbreaking challenge.

Anna meets Jude when teaching catechism to local children. There’s an immediate attraction and they begin an affair that’s full of passion and emotion. As their feelings change and evolve day to day, they each know they’ll be going their separate ways in short order. They promise to stay in touch, but Jude never contacts Anna once they part ways and return to the states. Though there’s a hole in her heart and her life, Anna finally has to move on. She chooses to do so with Dante, after finally giving up all hope that she’ll have a life of any kind with Jude.

Then as fate is wont to do in life, Anna and Jude do meet once again. And this is when all their secrets – from all three of them – come out, and the twists and turns thrown not only at these characters but also the reader are heart stopping and tragic. Decisions that weren’t dealt with in the past are now front and center for each of them once again. This time different outcomes are realized, and none of them escape unscathed. I always hold my breath when an author holds on to secrets until very late in a book, hoping what we learn is comparable to the heartache and drama that leads up to the revealing. I’m happy to say Ms. Brae does this very well and left me with no qualms about the varying results that these characters must face.

What I like most about Anna, Jude, and Dante is the fact they’re very human. Very flawed humans. They make mistakes just like we do every day, though their mistakes are on a much larger scale than most of us. But they have to deal with the consequences of those mistakes and make the best of life, even if they end up hurting the ones they love. Anna loves both of these men with all her heart, just in different ways. Dante does his best to give them the happiness they do deserve after all their trials, and Jude finally has to decide to take his life in hand for himself. Reading their story will lead you through elation to confusion to anger to love to loss and so many other emotions in between.

This book isn’t quite what I expected from reading the blurb. It took me by surprise several times, gave me so much to think about, and finally soothed my heart enough to get to the last page. Be prepared to go through something similar in your reading of it.

sandym-iconGrade: B


Secrets ruin lives, and lies protect those secrets…

Wanting to escape her life in New York City before starting medical school in the fall, Anna Dillon convinces her best friend Dante to travel with her to Thailand on a medical mission. While volunteering in a coastal village recently ravaged by a tsunami, Anna meets Jude Grayson. They share an instant attraction that leads to a brief, passionate affair. When she has to rush home for a family emergency, he promises to stay in touch.

But Jude never calls, and Anna tries desperately to forget him.

Five years pass, and Anna finally moves on with Dante after giving up hope that Jude will ever return—until they come face to face again in a chance encounter. Reeling, Anna discovers the life-altering secret of why Jude never contacted her—and why they can’t be together. But the passion that ignited between them on an exotic beach years ago never died, making it impossible to stay away from each other.

And Dante? Anna discovers that the friend she grew to love—and trust—has a secret of his own.

No excerpt available.