Coming Alive by Renee Harless
Series: Welcome to Carson, #1
Released: January 17, 2017
Reviewed by Sheena
Coming Alive packs a punch. It’s the story of a young woman reared by maliciously apathetic and cruel hands and her journey to love and healing. At eighteen, Avery ventures off into the world, and experiences heartache by the handfuls, so much so that she withdraws into herself, determined to never allow anyone close enough to harm her and starts her life anew in Carson, North Carolina.
A one-night stand cut short exposes Logan to a mysterious woman that flips his world upside down. Logan never expected to meet her; the one that would make him question everything. Undeterred by her need to keep him at an arm’s length, he goes against everything he believes in the quest to prove that they’re worth fighting for.
Will Logan be able to breathe life back into Avery’s heart and offer her the things she craves…family? Love? Or will their devastating pasts force them apart?
This is my first Renee Harless novel, so I was unsure of what to expect, however, the blurb promised an interesting love story, so interest piqued, it was time to experience Coming Alive. Spoiler Free because there are some things built into the story that should be gleaned first hand without any filter or preconceived lens.
Avery and Logan both come to the table with baggage, protective emotional walls and a healthy amount of cynicism. After being abandoned by a mother who didn’t want her and a grandmother who resented her and abused her younger sister, Avery, her beloved little sister and loyal household caretaker leave their unhappy home and begin a life anew. Their new lives are interrupted by tragedy when her caretaker passes away, then three more untimely and unexpected deaths send Avery reeling and running, once again escaping to start new, this time in Carson, a small city where she can use her medical assistant background to find work and live quietly and mourn her lost loves. Little does she know that Carson will provide far more than a place to disappear within her own loneliness. It will become her refuge, her home and will usher in a family she never thought she could possibly have. The challenge? Getting Avery to reach out and grasp the good things the universe is handing her, frightened as she is to dare hope she is capable of having real love in her life.
Logan is a man possessed. Growing up in a poor trailer park with a mother who abandoned him to the violence of his drunken father, he was determined to make a better life for himself. Logan became a physician and joined a small Carson, NC medical practice. Burned by an abusive father and faithless girlfriends, he isn’t a man to trust or love easily, the latter leading him to adopt a one-night stand philosophy. No strings means he isn’t in any danger of having his heart-broken by betrayal. When his latest exploit is fumbled by a family emergency, he sees Avery and is captivated. Logan can barely see her in the darkness, yet, there is a magnetism that he can’t deny. Fate tips the scales and she becomes more of a fixture in his life than he ever dreamed possible.
Falling for Avery was the easy part. Convincing her to return his affections and act upon her own was a completely different obstacle. After so much loss and heartache, Avery battled misplaced feelings of guilt and responsibility and while she too began to fall for Logan, she didn’t want to hurt him. Avery believed to her core that all she could offer Logan was pain upon death. Afterall, every man who’s ever loved her, met their death with their engagement ring upon her finger.
“I kill the people I love Logan and I refuse to let something happen to you. I don’t even know if I have anything left to give you, but I know I don’t have any more strength to watch you die.”
Logan sits there in silence as she wipes the tears from under her eyes. He can’t say it doesn’t hurt to hear that she had been claimed before, that if not for these horrific accidents in her life, they never would have crossed paths.
“You probably didn’t want to hear about other men, but I needed you to understand.”
She looks up at him, a shocked and confused expression on her face. “Understand why I can’t be more than friends with you.”
“Avery,” Logan says, reaching up and bringing her face closer to his, “We’re already more than friends.” And then he seals his lips over hers to prove his point. And just as he expected, her body responds immediately. She makes no move to touch him, but her kiss says everything she refuses to verbalize.
H-E-A-V-Y. Poor Avery and her black widow complex. Poor Logan and his tread upon heart. They had so much in common, almost too much in common. Both had mothers who flew the coup and left them to be reared by abusive and unloving family members. Both disastrously unlucky in love. Both humbly wealthy. The list goes on. I thought the author was laying it on a little thick after a while and my on cynicism ratcheted up a few notches.
Coming Alive was definitely a romance novel with interesting story telling. It is steamy, the love scenes intertwined nicely within the emotional fabric of the novel. I enjoyed the way the author unveiled the plot. I am no lover of overwrought, burdened plots with unnecessary and contrived twists and this novel rode that line well. There is one familial twist that I found to be a little too “well-what-do-you-know,” but on the whole, things remained just on this side of realistic-barely. My chief complaint would be the wall between the characters and I. I thought the characterizations were done well and on paper, things fit together but I could not ignore the disconnect that creeped in from the start. I didn’t really root for them, more so I felt so damn sorry for the pair of them, I figured they had to figure out their relationship or they would just be two of the most tragic romance characters, save Romeo & Juliet and that’s not saying much since, well….double suicide by poison and a dagger and all.
There is a solid HEA and a pretty great epilogue the final chapter that ended up being more imaginative and attention grabbing than the entire novel. It definitely did it’s job because I’ve already gotten my hands on book 2, Coming Together, that features secondary characters and dark horse scene stealers, Nicki and Austin, Perhaps with less tragic characters, there will be more room to get involved and root for the romance and HEA after all!