Sunday, 25 January 2015

Review ~ Withering Hope by Layla Hagen

Reviewed by Donna ~ 4 Stars

“…it's that no one is unimportant. Every person means the world to someone. That makes us vulnerable, but it also makes life a gift. I had no one who could give me that gift. Now I do.”

This was one of those diving in blind reads through a recommendation; I didn’t even read the blurb so I was pleasantly surprised as the story unfurled.

This is the story of Aimee, who is a lawyer and is currently planning her ideal wedding to her childhood best friend come lover, Chris. These two have been together for ever and being the planner that she is Aimee is fired up to get to Chris to oversee the last few remaining final details. With a week to go and after finishing work early, Aimee boards the private jet to get to Chris. Tristan is the pilot and he is the only other person on board, he has been working for Chris for a few years and when he is not flying them around he is their chauffeur. Towards the end of their flight disaster strikes and they lose their one and only engine, Tristan has no alternative but to try and land the plane, a job made all the more difficult when you are flying over the Amazon jungle.

This is where the story really begins to take off and we find out Aimee and Tristan’s true characters. Facing adversity of the highest level, these two need to work together, they need to be a solid unit, a team if they have any chance of survival. Aimee is one of those bright and bubbly characters that always see the best in everyone, will do anything for anyone and can chat the hind legs off a donkey. Everyone she comes into contact with loves her and everyone is her friend.

Tristan is the complete opposite of Aimee, he is a bit dark and mysterious, brooding, sheltered, he keeps himself to himself and is a man of very few words, much to Aimee’s annoyance in the beginning. It soon becomes apparent that Tristan is well equipped for these kinds of circumstances and soon takes over and guides Aimee in what they need to do to ensure their survival until they are rescued. 

With only themselves for company and with team building and survival being at the forefront of their thoughts Aimee and Tristan make a great team. Slowly but surely you see them as individuals change, a lot of free time leads to lots of thinking time and reflection and each of them have their own demons and eureka moments. Being in such close proximity to another also lends to discoveries about yourself and of the other individual and Aimee and Tristan’s story is no different.

“I'm not a star ," I whisper. "I'm a satellite rotating around you. You're the star. I need your light to shine.”
“You can only discover your own light in the darkness.”

Aimee has to struggle with her conscience and Tristan has to struggle with his past, but between them they are there for each other. The friendship that these two build together was beautiful to read but you could tell that their kind of friendship was on a much deeper level. These two seemed perfect for each other, the ying to the yang, the salt to the sweet; they balanced each other out perfectly. They had that soul mate vibe going on and as longer time went on and their fight for survival intensified you could only see their connection getting stronger and stronger. I have to admit I was rooting for them, not only to survive, but to admit themselves what I the reader could see bubbling under the surface.

“There are many things you can hide in the rainforest. But not lies. Or love.”

I will say though that this was not an easy read in the beginning, I did struggle through the first sixty percent but this is one of those books that I classify as a slow burner and I was glad that I didn’t give up. The story really comes into its own for the last half and it was hereafter that I was gripped. I would have liked to have seen more dialogue between Aimee and Tristan, although I understood he was a man of few words, I personally felt that if they had communicated more in the beginning it would have led to better character connection for me from the start. The writing style takes some getting used to and at points it felt like the story was being narrated but as I said above, after the sixty odd percent I was so engrossed in the story I didn’t really notice it. 

“When you find the person who sees you clearer than you see yourself, you know you've found true love.”

While I loved the epilogues, personally I would have loved to have seen more from the early period, for me I felt that after all they had been through their “what happens after” deserved expanding. The last epilogue had me in tears, the floods of tears type cry and for me this was the most poignant and beautiful epilogue that I have read for a very long time.

“One stolen kiss, one gifted smile, one shared memory at a time.”

In summary this is a story of survival and self-discovery, living in the now and grasping it with both hands, making the most of a bad situation and learning about yourself along the way. Finding love in direst of circumstances but not just any kind of love, that all-encompassing, I cannot live without you kind of love and it was beautiful.

"He loved her so much he never wanted to say goodbye to her. He wanted to leave with her."
Buy Links:

Amazon UK:
Amazon US:

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