Reviewed by Sheena
Blurb: Forever is a heartbeat away . . .
Kerris Moreton knows how to make things work. Bounced from foster home to foster home as a kid, she adapted; when opportunity arose, she thrived. Now, about to open her own business and accept a marriage proposal, Kerris is ready to build the life she’s always wanted. The only thing missing? A passionate connection with her would-be fiancé, Cam. Kerris wants to believe that sparks are overrated-until Walsh Bennett lights her up like the Fourth of July.
. . . but what about love?
As one of the East Coast’s most eligible bachelors, Walsh enjoys financial independence, fulfilling work with his family’s nonprofit, and plenty of female attention. But lately he’s been distracted by the one woman he can’t have. Lovely to look at and even sweeter to know, Kerris is the soul mate Walsh never thought he would find.
The problem is, his best friend found her first . ..
When I started reading When You Are Mine, I felt like it would be pretty interesting. Kennedy Ryan is a debut author, so I had no preconceived notions on what kind of story I would get. I have to say, I really like Ryan’s voice. She draws you in and you find yourself invested before you know it. I was fully engaged- picking sides and drawing my own lines in the sand; warring with myself when characters overstepped some boundaries, and then ran in retreat when I needed them to charge ahead! The story begins with a wedding toast that is rife with turmoil…the emotional disquiet so thick that you’d likely need a serrated knife to cut through the tension. We then flashback 18 months and we meet Cam. And Walsh. And Karris. And then you begin to understand. This is a love story that not only tugs at your heart-strings, but pulls them taunt and strums them like a friggin guitar. My eyes watered so much at one point the words were blurred on the screen. Then I had to click back a few pages and re-live the pain just to convince myself that I was seriously F-ed up over the transpiring events. This is a love triangle where there are no winners. There is no “bad guy.” You want Karris to break free out of her own head and ideals of propriety and follow her heart! You want Cam to face his demons and not settle for less than he deserves, and likely most of all- you want Walsh to be happy. The breadth between happiness and “the right thing” is a running theme throughout the book and the complexities of being happy vs resigned adds real substance to the plot.
Walsh reached behind her ear…“You wear flowers in your hair a lot…which flower is your favorite?” He strokes the velvety, petals of the flower he held.
“The orchid.” She didn’t even have to think about it.
“What would you say an orchid needs to grow?”
“Um soil, water, sunlight…”
“Those are optimal conditions for growing, right?”
“I suppose so.” She frowned, unable to wrench her gaze away from the fragile flower cuddled in his strong hand.
“What would you call an orchid that sprang out of thin air….a flower that had no soil, no roots, the worst conditions to grow in, but just sprouted out of thin air, beautiful and exotic and perfect?”
“I’d call it a miracle….Karris, your childhood was a nightmare sometimes, but you managed to become this amazing woman. Your past haunts you, but it hasn’t twisted you, hasn’t ruined you. That’s a miracle, you’re the miracle, baby.”
Forlorn sigh….star-crossed much??
Cam and Karris endured the cold and calculating blows of a hard knock life. Raised as foster children and living their own unspeakable horrors, they came together and instead of their common background bonding them in a healthy way, it more so leashed them to one another in ways that whispered of co-dependency. Walsh led a far better childhood, however, his affluent broken home left his own scars open as he navigated his relationship with his tough business tycoon father and his damaged mother.
The character development is superb. Cousin Jo, Cam, Walsh and Karris are written as clear as I could see them on a tableau. Cam is a transformative character. I hated that Karris’s decisions were almost always based on what she interpreted as opposed to what she knew/felt. I wanted to push Jo into a lake many times- until I understood her motivations. I wanted to fiercely champion Walsh’s desires and undo the major foiling of what I had decided would be a great love match between Karris and Walsh. Events that were utterly tragic and drew Karris and Walsh together also sparked hope that what was wrong would be righted. I pitied Cam- until I hated him. I was indifferent toward Walsh’s mother- until I saw her wisdom, I loathed Walsh’s father- until I understood him and I despised scheming socialite/model Sophie until- well, no… I still do hate her!
The throbbing pulse, beating between Walsh and Karris just twists you in knots. You know it is “wrong” but it feels so right. Until you’ve decided that it is not so wrong after all- eh? You live for the stolen glances between the two and as they romanticize one another in their own quiet thoughts you want to expose their attraction, consequences be damned.
Throughout the story, I found myself vacillating between hopeful delight, to being gutted, to salivating over the scathing review I just knew I would be writing- I even paused to fantasize about how I would open my relentless tirade- to feeling a wash of relief because the story is not over! So while I did NOT enjoy the turn of events, I am certain that The Bennett’s series will easily become one of my favorite romance serials. The sneak peek into book 2, Loving You Always, proves that Kennedy Ryan is hitting her stride and taking off running and I am eagerly anticipating more to come!