Always: A Novel - Sarah Jio

While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiancé, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense—everything connected and felt right. But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what—and whom—she wants.

Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she's willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.

 

I found myself completely engrossed by this book.

 

I adored Kailey as a character--she cares about everyone and has a lot of passion for her causes. In that regard, I didn't quite comprehend her relationship with Ryan, who had kind of an opposite view of the world, but I appreciated that they could put aside their differences. I also enjoyed seeing how she grew up a little bit and lost her naiveté across the two sections. However, I wasn't terribly fond of the way Jio dealt with other characters, as the ending was quite anticlimactic due to her portrayal throughout the book.

 

I absolutely adored the setting! The music references were a lot of fun and I definitely shoved the book in front of my friend's face multiple times to share my excitement over certain references. I felt like I got a real feel for Seattle in two different time periods and from two different lenses.

 

This was one time where I wasn't terribly fond of the alternating chapters from different time periods; I thought it would have been better done to simply have two parts as I felt like Kailey herself didn't change personality wise very much across the years and thus I had trouble remembering where I was.

 

This wasn't quite as predictable as I expected it would be, and there were times where I was genuinely unsure what would happen, which I appreciated greatly for the genre. However, I still felt like the romance was at times hard for me to buy, and that Kailey was kind of going through some of the motions.

 

I loved the social justice aspect of this book, and I loved how engaging it was. Definitely recommend for fans of romance.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.