*****5 ‘Salvation Kisses’ STARS*****

Have you ever wanted something with everything in you, but you let fear talk you out of it?  Let fear tell you not to try, don’t rock the boat, you’ll fail?  K. Langston’s new release Sylvie is an incredibly raw and real story of a girl and a boy – best friends forever – and their heartbreaking and painful roadmap to forgiveness and love after longing, fear and the inexperience of youth had put them on another course.  I was immersed from page one in this beautiful journey of the human heart – past and present.

“Mama says love doesn’t always need a reason, it speaks from the irrational wisdom of the heart.”

Sylvie Dawson (h) and Lincoln/Linc Matthews (H) became forever friends one afternoon in grade school.  Thick as thieves, these two would grow up intuitively accepting each other and learning all there is to know about each other, always there for one another.  As the years pass and feelings grow it’s easy to listen to the little voice telling them not to jeopardize their friendship with romantic entanglement.  It wouldn’t be until Sylvie meets another man while starving for affection and belonging, that Linc would realize his mistake in listening to his fears.  Sylvie’s inability to tell Linc how she really feels plays right into the attention and affection Dean Winters is paying her.  Lost to the novelty of lust and new love it would be years before she realizes her mistake in listening to her fears – letting them lead her away from Linc.

“There are moments that mark our lives.  Moments when we realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts.  Before and after.”

So.  Many.  Feels.  This story is an agonizing yet stunning story of young love unrealized, lost and then regained.  The multifaceted characters of Sylvie, Dean and Linc never failed to take my breath away, make me sob or delight me.  That feeling of impending heartache and doom killed me as I watched Linc and Sylvie succumb to the fears of ‘what if this doesn’t work’ and turn away from their feelings before they ever took a chance.  I felt like I was watching an accident knowing I could do nothing to stop it – eyes wide open waiting for impact unable to look away knowing there’d be carnage.  I understood why, they’re both so young and afraid to lose the friendship they have, but as I watched Sylvie fall in love with Dean a piece my heart died and I ached for both Linc and Sylvie knowing this was the beginning of the end – in so many different ways.  Add in that Sylvie truly loves Dean in a different but no less important way than Linc and then the complexities of the story starting to unfold through carefully paced flashbacks and I was devastated.  The narrative is so purposeful and focused, the feelings are a tangible entity, almost another character in their depth and sentiment; I spent a lot of time grabbing my chest, shaking my head and cursing at my kindle.  Sylvie is so lost in life, unsure what she’s supposed to do next, so anxious over the possibility that Linc will never love her.  Dean arrives in a perfect storm of Sylvie’s emotions and whether it’s meant to be or not she falls for a broken man that hides his problems all too well – for the time being.  The triangle of anger, hurt, love and longing from these three as they push and pull each other apart shows the insecurities, guilt and shame each of them carry in different and harmful ways.  Ultimately, Sylvie is not just a second chance love story, it’s a LIFE story.  It’s ugly and beautiful and hard to take; tender and romantic and tear-jerking.  A story of regretting your choices, not letting the past define your future, learning from your mistakes, forgiving yourself and taking a chance on the biggest gift of all – love…even when you think you don’t deserve it.

“Sometimes, the most important lessons in life are the ones we learn the hard way.”

An evocative love story that seemingly died before it lived only to see that love always prevails if only you have the courage to believe in yourself, it left me euphoric and drunk on the power of a tale I didn’t expect and adored all the more for its raw heartfelt messages.  A love hard fought…and won.

“I swear, every time our lips touch I can taste the next sixty years of my life.”

K’s Category: 2nd date, read author before

Characters: M/F

Sex: Yes, Descriptive

OM/OW: Yes, prior to H/h romantic relationship

HEA: Yes

Standalone: Yes