****4.5 ‘The Sun Will Rise’ STARS****

PLEASE NOTE:  there are two significant plot twists in this story and as such my review may be purposefully evasive to preserve the integrity of the ‘surprises’ in this story for maximum reader enjoyment.

“No one is ever old enough to know certain truths.”

The first page of this beautifully tragic tale sets the scene for a roller coaster ride of emotion that grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go.  A boy forced to accept harsh truths and life’s unfair judgements and a girl so wrapped up in her own painful loneliness she’d lie to get what she needs without considering the cost. Shari J. Ryan crafted a powerful journey of longing, anger, guilt and remorse; I don’t think I’ve ached for a couple’s redemption quite this hard in a long time.

“This is my life.  Empty.”

From the moment Raine Carson (H) took his first breath the odds were stacked against him.  As the years progressed life wouldn’t be any kinder and the hits would…Just.  Keep.  Coming.  Scraping by doing any odd job he can manage and mowing lawns for the elite of Cascade, it’s the mayor’s daughter that catches his eye.  He knows she’s struggling in the life she leads and he’s in no position to offer any help.  Telling himself nothing good can come of their developing friendship he does everything he can to stay away.  But the heart wants what it wants…even when it knows better.  It wouldn’t take long for life to show Raine once more that it does not keep score and fair isn’t fair.

“When a person shatters, the particles rarely regroup into any sort of semblance of what they were before.”

Haven Leigh (h) is living a lie.  Forced to play puppet to her parent’s puppeteer strings she counting down the years until she can graduate high school and leave Cascade in the review mirror to start a new life.  Choosing to spend time hidden away in her bedroom the highlight of her day is the sexy boy that mows the lawns every week.  Only, he’s not a boy, he’s older and mysterious and Haven wants him.  And she’ll tell him what he wants to hear to get him.  Without thought for consequences, Haven has no idea that one flirty encounter will set one on a course for disaster…and decimate the life of the other.

“I was the cause of ruining a man’s life, and it has haunted me every day since I stood in front of the boy I was sure I was in love with and held onto a silly lie without concern.”

A charming mixture of mature waif and innocent liar Haven is an extremely well developed character.  Her immaturity and naiveté absolutely infuriated me; add in the brief moments of growth as we see past and present story lines and I was torn up; loving her one minute and hating her the next.  The progression of her life and maturity in the 10 year span of the story was very raw, making no excuses for the choices she makes – and she makes some horrible choices and comes full circle to a reality she would do anything to avoid at one time in her life.  The eventual dissection of her motivations and remorse ultimately had me shouting for her redemption and happiness; her heartbreaking internalizations had me tearing up and wishing I could wiggle my nose and make it all better – for them both.

“His touch radiated through me with heat, and my stomach sank with the realization that all I need in my life is someone who wants to be near me, someone who makes me feel like I’m something other than just the mayor’s daughter.”

At the same time, Raine’s doing his best to come to grips with his circumstances and the bleak future his life has already mapped out.  Knowing a relationship with Haven is the last complication he needs, he nevertheless can’t get her out of his mind and gives into the friendship and manipulations of Haven with his eyes wide open.  He knows she’s manipulating circumstances and does everything he can to help her understand and ‘be the better person’ – to learn from her mistakes and seek out genuine connection.  He’s so very wise beyond his years; alpha yet tender a young man on the cusp of experiencing a real loving relationship with the girl he wants but shouldn’t.  When he realizes the trouble he faces and the depth of betrayal I was gutted; the path to happiness is seemingly ashes to ashes dust to dust.  These two lovers are suffering in the same vein and leading completely opposite lives – they see those needs in each other and even though they’re both not equipped to handle them when the story starts off…they try.  They try and fail.  Spectacularly.  Cue ugly cry.  Rants.  Author cursing.  And kindle abuse.  It takes the incredible power of forgiveness and love to show these two what a beautiful life they can have – if they’re brave enough to try…one more time.

“I did say that, and it’s true, but I saw something in your eyes at that moment in the water that told me you were as desperate to be needed as I am.”

An incredibly emotional journey through the passion and pain of two broken yet vulnerable people searching for connection in a life that’s taught them it’s an illusion. Poetic prose, silky smooth pacing, multifaceted characters and a love so hard fought it’ll choke you up, I wholeheartedly recommend this story of overcoming life’s harsh truths and tragedies only to come out on the other side, basking in the warm glow of love through forgiveness…the ultimate second chance.

“The bright sunrise after the darkest night will always define where I’ve come from and where I am going.”

K’s Category: 1st date, first novel read by author to date

Characters: M/F

OM/OW: Yes

Sex: Yes, descriptive

HEA: Yes

Standalone: Yes

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