Relentless - Cassia Leo (2013)

Claire Nixon has left her old life behind and tried to start afresh, but forgetting the past, her ex-boyfriend Chris and the secret that she's kept from him proves to be a difficult endeavour. When Adam Parker waltzes into her life, it's even more crucial that she keeps the past buried even if Adam wants her to share the truth. Cassia Leo's first novel in the Shattered Hearts series has all the ingredients of New Adult but maybe not the right balance or mix of them all. Firstly, the secret from Claire's past is certainly a bombshell and she's right in thinking that it may not endear her. But the main problem with it is that her feelings, reactions and reasoning behind her choice are never really explored enough to understand and empathise with her. But my main issue with the novel was the relationship between Claire and her ex, Chris. This is portrayed as a special, beautiful and equal relationship and the ending of it premature. As such, there's no real breakdown between Claire and Chris and it's clear that neither party is really over it. So whilst Adam is a hugely likeable and appealing hero, Claire's getting with him diminishes the sanctity of her relationship with Chris and also the authenticity of her feelings for him. And for me, it was Chris who should have been the primary love interest in the novel. Now I know I'm probably reading too much into all of this, but it did spoil my enjoyment of the novel, although at the same time I must admit I think part of the intention is to give readers a conundrum over their responses to the characters and their allegiances - not to make the heroine too perfect or the choice between the love interests too predictable - and it certainly does that. But with a second novel, Pieces of You, which looks set to pursue Chris' character and role further, perhaps this will clarify things. (JC)

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