When I read the synopsis for this book, I couldn't wait to read it. I love stories about people overcoming incredible obstacles and finding true love. In this book, the main character, Catherine, is raped, stabbed, and left for dead. At the hospital, Dr. Alan Peterson takes over her care and as soon as he lays eyes on her he feels an immediate connection. He's never even seen her before, but he already feels like he knows her. As she slowly recovers, he makes himself a fixture in her life, being there for her always. Catherine starts to fall for him too, but will she ever be able to overcome the physical and emotional trauma that haunts her every day and be able to have a normal relationship with Alan?
1) Character Development: I really didn't connect with the characters in this book. I wanted to, but it just didn't happen. Catherine ("Cat)" is tough, but understandably she has a lot of issues after the attack. As horrific as her attack was, I just didn't sympathize with her like I felt I should. That's when I knew I wasn't connecting with the characters. I thought Alan was sweet for sticking by her side all of that time, even before she even knew who he was, but if I was Catherine I might think that it was kind of creepy. Especially after what she had just went through; he was around a lot, asking about her and sending her flowers. He wasn't really being pushy in the beginning, but his shows of concern could have very easily pushed her away. Madeline ("Maddie") starts out being a crisis counselor for Cat, but they end up becoming close friends. I felt like her friendship with Maddie seemed a lot more genuine than her "relationship" with Alan; I'll explain more about that later.
2) The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: The Good - This story has a great message about taking a stand against rape and violent crimes against women. It also deals with the terrifying and devastating effects of cancer, both the physical effect on the person's body who is suffering from it and the emotional toll it takes on those who love them. I also like how at the end of the book the author gives links to resources: RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) and the National Brain Tumor Society. They are certainly both issues that we can all help bring awareness to and give support. The Bad - I found the dialogue between characters to be slightly awkward. It didn't flow well for me. For instance, when two characters would be talking to each other, they would use the other person's name every time they addressed them. Without it, the dialogue might have felt a little less clunky. There is one major plot point in particular that bothered me; it was extremely predictable and far too convenient in my opinion. It's actually a revelation that Maddie makes, but I won't go into any more detail because I don't want to ruin it for anyone. The Ugly - I appreciated the major issues that this book tackled, but I think it took on a bit too much. The book really had 3 main themes: rape, love, and cancer. I think it would have been a lot better read if it had just focused on Cat's attack and then on her healing process, with more emphasis on her growing relationship with Alan. The cancer aspect just threw a wrench in everything and, to me, made everything even less believable. I appreciate that awareness that the author is trying to bring to the subject of cancer, but maybe it could have been tackled in a separate book.
3) Romance Sizzle or Fizzle?: I have to say fizzle. I wanted to believe in this blossoming love between a woman who has her world torn apart and the man intent on saving her. In the end I just didn't believe in it. It's not that I don't think that maybe everyone has a soul mate; there's no guarantee you'll ever meet that person, but maybe when you do, you instantly know. I think that idea might have worked. But the story jumped around too much; one minute she didn't really know who Alan was, aside from being her doctor, the next they were basically in a relationship. There was no gradual easing into it, them getting to know each other and us as readers getting to see sweet moments between them that would make us believe that they were truly falling in love with each other. I wish there would have been more time taken for those little details, it would have built the story up a lot more, made it much easier for us to connect with these characters. The way the story skipped around, it made it seem as though they were barely together at all, surely not long enough to develop a healthy relationship. Even at the end I still wasn't convinced that they were really soul mates.
4) Uniqueness of Plot: I didn't find the plot to be especially unique. It was kind of like a mash-up of other fiction/romances books I've read in the past.
5) Final Thoughts: To be completely honest, I didn't enjoy this novel. I couldn't connect with the characters and therefore had trouble sympathizing for them. I did shed a tear at the end because I've had a family member die from cancer and I know how heartbreaking it is. By reading the synopsis I assumed that the story would focus more on Cat and Alan's relationship and although they did think about each other a lot and attempted to communicate occasionally, they simply didn't spend enough time together to show us why they were in love.
(reviewed 18 days after purchase)