Review: Start Again by J. Saman

Reviewed by Joanna

Kate suffered a huge loss – probably the worst a human can go through. One night as she was working her late shift at the hospital, she’s paged to go down to the ED. Her 2-year-old daughter has been brought in. The kid doesn’t make it. Her husband was already gone after their car crashed.

This prologue had me welling up. How can this be the start of a romance story? Is J. Saman trying to hurt me? Bear with, dear reader. This is not a tale of woe.

Two years on and Kate can’t hang around her home city anymore. Everything reminds her of her loss and drags her deeper into the mire. She decides she had to leave. Go somewhere, anywhere, where her memories won’t haunt her. A new start in a new home to be discovered.

Thus starts a road trip with Ryan. He’s the son of her mom’s friend, and he doesn’t like flying but needs to be in Seattle in a month. Their meddling moms set them up.

I LOVE road trips. And this is a real road trip paradise. Off they go, strangers who met once as kids but essentially know nothing about each other.

As Kate wants to try towns and cities for size, their route is happily scenic, and as they’re both good for the readies, they don’t have to slum it. There’s fancy hotels, beach resorts, spas, glittering suites in Las Vegas.

Soon they’re close friends, and though Kate can’t even conceive the idea of replacing her husband and lost family, she starts to fall for Ryan.

He’s much quicker in that he’s all-in pretty soon, but can’t tell her as he knows she’s suffering survivor’s guilt as much as she wants to stay true to their memory.

Despite this, Kate is fun and Ryan is gruff and sexy, and they enjoy themselves at every opportunity. Their interactions made me grin.

His arms cross against his chest again. “I’m not overly chatty, open to pretty much anything except country music and have enough money that this could be a lot of fun. You in or out?” I cross my arms to match his stance. “What’s your opinion on classic rock?” “Could take it or leave it.” “Do you smoke?” “No. Do you drink?” “Anything except beer and gin.” He tilts his head considering my answer. “I guess I can live with that.”

He’s a very successful computer programmer and ex-hacker, and there’s a side plot involving his business pursuits. It doesn’t dominate but it gives him a source of never ending cash and makes him a good prospect as a solvent steady guy. It’s also kinda cool and I’d happily have read more about this.

The living-in-the-moment air to the trip turns into no strings attached sex, and though it fills Kate with horrible guilt, she can’t resist the fun, sweet guy who is everything a girl could want.

There’s some lovely scenes between them as they become a couple without being a couple, but the repetition of the Big Reason they can’t be together was a tiny bit frustrating, though they kept moving the relationship forward so it didn’t drag.

“I’m so tired of this grief, but I can’t seem to stop it either. It’s so completely consuming that I feel it in my mind, body and soul. It’s everywhere, suffocating the life from me and I would do almost anything to get it to stop.”

Naturally the trip has to end as Seattle nears, and with Kate’s feelings so messed up it’s hard to see how she can settle down again. I actually thought at this point I’d be happy for her to get over her issues a bit quicker, or do it with Ryan’s help rather than what she did.

The tale is of course HEA, but I wish the end had been a little easier. But hey ho, a super story overall and I’m looking into this author’s other work.

Rating: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon

Start Again
by J. Saman
Release Date: July 24, 2016

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