Review: The Air He Breathes by Brittainy C. Cherry

Reviewed by Joanna

Fancy a good dose of angst today? This novel of love after loss comes souped-up to the gills with Big Emotion. I just so happened to be in the mood to see two people mangled so this was right up my street.

Lizzie lost her husband, and father of her five-year-old daughter, in a car crash, and for the past year since his death, she’s been away from home, mourning and generally trying to hold it together for her child. Disillusioned by her mother’s constant stream of boyfriends, she returns to her own house, where she and her husband lived together. On the way, she runs over a dog and takes the creature to the vet, it’s angry and wild-looking owner in tow.

As the owner—a bearded and long-haired man—cries uncontrollably when he hears the dog will be okay, she recognizes something in him, having been through an awful lot of pain herself. Despite him being a mean jerk to her every time she sees him after—often, as it turns out he’s her new neighbor—Lizzie wants to know the dangerous loner everyone warns her about.

“Everyone in this town is afraid of me. Do I scare you, Elizabeth?” he whispered, his breaths brushing against my lips. “No.” “Why not?” “Because I see you.” The coldness in his stare softened for a split second, almost as if he was confused by those four words. But I did see him. I saw past the hate in his stare and noticed the hurt in his frown. I saw the broken parts that somehow matched my own.

When she finally starts getting through to Tristan, she’s bang on the money. He lost his wife and eight-year-old son in the same timeframe as her loss, and is barely surviving. He hides, unkempt, and runs barefoot to feel the pain in his bloodied feet. But he’s also kind, though not to Lizzie for a good portion of the beginning of this tale.

The horrors these people lived through turned them into walking ghosts, shells of their former selves. Yet like attracts like, and they enter into a strange kind of relationship where they use one another while pretending it’s the spouse they lost that they’re kissing or sleeping with. Unhealthy? Hell yes. Poignant? Definitely.

“Elizabeth?” “Yes?” “It’s easier with you.” “What’s easier with me?” His hand found my lower back. My hips arched toward him, our bodies slowly becoming one. He ran his fingers against my neck as I closed my eyes, and he spoke softly into my soul. “Being alive.”

If at this point you’re thinking OMG bleak-fest, it isn’t. There are sad elements to this tale but it’s more emotionally attuned to the connection between Lizzie and Tristan. I wanted them both to heal and fall in love, and make one another better, but of course it’s never as simple as that.

A couple of big plot twists had my jaw dropping, and was a nice mix to the relatively narrow scene focus. Some action scenes occurred which weren’t the strongest written, but mainly the plot takes place in small interactions between Lizzie and Tristan. And boy was that strong. The emotional depths plundered had me glued to the page. I loved the overblown, heartfelt dialogue, and the way they moved around one another as they became dependent, picking up one another’s pieces.

I also loved seeing Tristan with Emma, Lizzie’s daughter. The little details, like Tristan’s tattoos representing the books his son loved, were beautiful, and the side characters like Lizzie’s best friend was inappropriately hilarious.

She blushed, looking around. “It was an accident.” “Oh? Was it? Was it an accident? Were you casually walking down Main Street and then Matty started walking toward you and his penis accidentally tumbled out of his pants? Then did a strong whoosh of wind pass through, knocking said penis into your vagina? Was it that kind of accident?” I mocked. “Not exactly like that.” She pushed her tongue against the inside of her cheek. “The wind kind of pushed the penis toward my mouth first.”

There are four books in this series though all are standalone, centered around the four elements. I’m going to start on the next.

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Air He Breathes
by Brittainy C. Cherry
Release Date: September 25, 2015

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