Mallory Durham has been left behind and it is making her feel less like an adult and more like an afterthought. Divorce, sickness, educational aspirations being shattered, and her Aunt Sam moving into her home, have made Mal’s life nearly unrecognizable to her.
When Tucker Scott re-enters her life along with his band, will they offer what she needs to once again find her voice and self confidence or will it strip her of it even more?
Told through the dual voices of Mallory as she navigates her new world, and Aunt Sam’s letters to her niece, Beatless tells the story of two women at very different points in their life, fighting the same battles; proving that no matter what age a person is, there are always lessons to be learned.
There are some writers who are so talented that their stories are effortless to read. Amber L. Johnson is one of those authors. As a writer myself, I know that effortless takes a lot of work, no matter how much of a non-sequitur that might seem. Her words flow gently but they pack a punch, hitting you right in the gut when you expect it least. That’s one of the many things I truly enjoyed about Beatless. It’s a story that is narrated so well that I was almost lulled into a false sense of security, yet before I knew it, I was reading with tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart. And I LOVE that.
First things first – a little about the characters. It’s narrated in first person, past tense, by the heroine, Mal. Left behind at community college while all her friends head away, she’s lost at first, trying to keep her head up when circumstances want to pull her under. Her father has left the family, and her mum is working away and leaves Mal behind in the care of her Aunt Sam. For the first few chapters you feel Mal’s bewilderment as she tries to carve herself out a life from the little that remains. It resonates so well, because I think we can all remember being a teenager, wondering where we fit, whether we’re the only ones feeling that way. Amber captures that mood so vividly it made me have all the feelings!
Under the encouragement of her aunt, Mal gets a job and meets a boy. And what a boy! Tucker is the perfect hero; devoted to his disabled sister, and trying to become the man he wants to be. Like Mal, he dreams of getting away, but he also knows that his family keeps him where he his; he shares the care of his sister with his father, and they both need him.
As Mal and Tucker become friends, confidantes and finally lovers, their story is so poignant it’s almost like you’re spying on something so intimate and raw. Right at the moment when everything feels like it’s finally coming together, something happens that brings their world tumbling around their feet. Oh my, does it hurt.
The story itself is perfect. It’s an emotional journey for Mal, Tucker and Sam, without the plot feeling forced. There are times when they make the wrong choices, treat people the wrong way, but that only serves to make it more real and truthful. Though I can’t give away the ending, it was juicy enough to make my eyes water, and sweet enough to melt my heart.
I’ve no hesitation in labelling this a five star read. So go buy, read, devour and enjoy. Amber has a full schedule of releases ahead and I’m looking forward to every single one of them!
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