Title: After Always
Author: Barbara J. Hancock
Release Date: October 1st, 2018
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*I received an ARC copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my review whatsoever*
Lydia Li’s life ended when Tristan died. At least, that’s how it felt. Sure, they had problems and he could be a little…intense…at times, but he’d loved her. He was the Romeo to her Juliet… And now he was gone.
When her parents get her to agree to a summer across the country with a music teacher who runs an inn, Lydia agrees. But it’s different than what she expected. There’s something else there. Something that feels a lot like Tristan. But that’s impossible, right?
Then there’s Michael Malone, the quiet guy who’s Tristan’s opposite in every way. And Lydia can’t help but be drawn to him…and whatever the house is hiding.
With YA Thrillers, they seem to be a hit or miss for me, especially if romance is tied into it as well. This book holds a strong in every department I look for in a thriller. Despite a couple weak spots here and there, it’s a great tale of romance, healing, growth, and contains a compelling mystery.
Lydia is mourning the loss of her boyfriend Tristan. We listen to her tale of what her and her past relationship was through what we initially perceived as a perfect romance, but in reality, it was abusive and full of darkness. What is initially painted by Lydia to what seemed an overly obsessive relationship on her part, turns out she was a victim in the end. Lydia is used to a relationship filled with fear from Tristan’s physical abuse and manipulative ways while remaining devoted all because of her personal views on love.
Her parents finally believe Lydia needs a change of scenery and allow her to go away for the summer to stay in a mansion. Upon arriving, she meets Michael who is basically the healthy, compassionate opposite of what Lydia is used too. Their relationship begins as co-workers to friends and leads to more, however, Lydia is not used to a healthy relationship. Her self-growth and healing in this story is wonderful. Michael is a love, I could not get enough of him.
The paranormal aspects of this novel were an added bonus to this story. On the sole plot foundation, it read as a Contemporary novel then next thing you know you’re faced with a supernatural mystery tied into it. All in all, all elements come together in the end to keep you on your toes.
I could not get enough of this book and it was beautiful to see a broken character like Lydia find the power within herself to grow and pursue forward in a healthy manner with someone else who truly feeds her soul with love and kindness.