Between Octobers by A. R. Rivera
Between Octobers by A. R. Rivera is a modern romance thriller packed with everything you expect to see from both genres, and a little more you might not. It tells the story of an ordinary woman, Grace, who meets and falls in love with an extraordinary man, famous actor Rhys Matthews. The book details their intense love, the passion which unfolds and how it consumes them and all around them. Their relationship is not without its struggles, and they eventually take its toll. Interwoven with this tale, Grace struggles with a more real and intense danger, and as her love story unfolds, and she struggles to find a way to save herself, the bittersweet facets of love are revealed.
Rivera has done a superb job with blending a thriller with some small touches of action and mystery. The story moves along a just the right pace, giving the reader enough background on the characters, and letting them grow, without crawling along at a snail’s pace or cutting back in other areas. The novel grips you from start to finish, with a kind of mature drama, one that I think anyone who has been in a long-term relationship can understand, and those who have enjoyed passionate flings. It is so very real, portraying love in such a raw manner that at first it takes you aback with its authenticity, then just when you think this is talking about every relationship you have ever had Rivera cuts to the fantastical bits that season the story.
A romance novel is still a romance novel though, and this book does sometimes delve into the pitfalls of romance books. The language Rivera uses when Grace speaks sounds like every airport bookstore love story you might pick up. It always struck me as very nineties, the way a character would describe their outfit, or how they would narrate their actions; all so formulaic and aged. What struck me most especially was the way Grace spoke. I did the math, and based on the clues Rivera gives Grace is at most 31 years old for most of the novel, but she sounds like she is 45. It’s not that it detracted from the book, but is more so a source of distaste, as most romance novels read this way. There was a smattering of Christianity throughout, mainly on the part of the main character, but not enough that someone non-religious would be turned off, and just enough to potentially please those who aren’t.
I have to say, as far as romance goes, this book actually impressed me. I liked the pace of it, the length, and so often I found so many parallels between Grace and Rhys’ relationship to my own that I really got hooked. But the biggest bonus for me was the ending. As I try desperately not to reveal much, I do need to gush a bit about the bold choice in ending Rivera went with, definitely not your typical take on a romance novel, and quite refreshing. If you want the romance without too much longing looks, pouting lips and furtive glances, then this is for you. If you want something of a mystery, a touch of authenticity with a few embellishments, then this is the book for you.
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