Tuesday, August 11, 2015

REVIEW + EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY: The Moment of Letting Go by J.A. Redmerski

THE MOMENT OF LETTING GO by J.A. Redmerski (August 11, 2015; Forever Trade Paperback)
You can follow the rules or you can follow your heart...Sienna Murphy never does anything without a plan. And so far her plans have been working. Right after college, she got a prestigious job and gained the stability she'd always craved-until work takes her to the sun-drenched shores of Oahu and places her in the path of sexy surfer Luke Everett. For the first time, she lets her heart take control. Drawn to his carefree charm, she makes a spontaneous and very un-Sienna-like decision to drop everything and stay in Hawaii for two more weeks.

Luke lives fast and wild. When he meets Sienna, he's convinced that some no-strings-attached fun is just what she needs. As their nights quickly turn from playful to passionate, Luke can't deny the deep connection he feels. But there's a reason Luke doesn't do long-term. He can't promise Sienna forever, when the enormity of his past has shown him just how fragile the future can be . . .

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Shel: Dear J.A. Redmerski,

Shel: I finished The Moment of Letting Go hours ago and I've been thinking about it since I put it down. I think that's a good thing, right? It's a good thing when a writer creates characters and scenarios that you continue to think about, right? Court: I personally think this is a great thing...because it creates such internal conflict, and we can't deny that this thing she created is a great work for that simple reason.

Shel: Here's the thing, at first I was so frustrated with Sienna and some of her decisions. There were times when I thought she was so stubborn or too certain that her perspectives were the correct ones that I wanted to jump in the book and give her a talking to. I wanted her friend Paige to push her harder to see things in a less narrow way. I wanted her to quit overthinking. But you know what? I realized that part of why I was frustrated with Sienna was because she has some of my qualities--being stubborn, allowing fear to take over, overthinking, sometimes having a too narrow viewpoint--and it wasn't so much that it was Sienna that I was frustrated with, but myself for having those qualities. *facepalm* To your credit, you made Sienna so believable, so human, that I was very invested in her and how I felt about her. Court: As I was reading your view, and having pondered these same...characteristics of Sienna...I was thinking too, that the reason we don't like this in our characters is because it reminds us of ourselves. Sienna is a frustrating girl straightaway...she is so desperate to succeed that she shields herself, and as we open up the book and see her making herself smaller to accommodate her boss and her clients and reminds her best friend of things over and over...well, my newly assertive self is screaming internally because this shouldn't be! But...in real life, I do the same thing! So...whew. 

Shel: I know you're wondering, was there anything I liked about Sienna? Absolutely, yes, there was. I loved how Sienna was open to Luke and his help. I loved how you made Sienna open to reflection and change...god, I loved that about her. I also loved that she truly wanted Luke to be who he was, do what he loved, and to recognize that in order to heal he couldn't use her as a replacement for his brother. It takes a selfless person to take yourself out of the equation, sometimes, and she did that. So that's a lotta love but there are still other things--like that she didn't let a bad impression from a friend of Luke's be the only impression or that she didn't just heed his advice when they were together but she took it to heart and made some real changes. Court: Right. Until you read what Shelley said, you were probably wondering WHY on earth we would recommend this to you. Well, let's reflect back on J.A. Redmerski's writing and her flawed, multi-dimensional characters, shall we? Yes. We shall. Sienna was flawed, and human, but she took us on the journey with her, and hopefully you will enjoy the story as we did...and feel conflicted about it. And not get a psychotherapy session, but maybe reflect a little bit on the world too.

Shel: And what about Luke? I am thankful that we had many chapters from him--I think it was important to know where he was coming from and you showed us that he was a really nice guy--so sincere and sweet and still hurting from the loss of his brother. If anything, I wish I'd heard more from him at the end. He wanted the best for Sienna and never manipulated her or tried to force change on her--he accepted where she was and nudged her when he sensed that she wanted to take steps to overcome her fears.That you made him suffer from similar fears as Sienna and show how he worked through them, that you made him so understanding and kind--he was wonderful. Court: I can say that I enjoyed Luke from the get go...and maybe it was because I enjoy male POV a ton...and J.A. as history has showed us in loving all of her other books that she does a good job writing her boys....and maybe it was because Sienna made me a little bit, groany. But as Shelley said, he turned into a good one that should make a lot of book boyfriend lists!! 

Shel: A few more things, and I promise I'll stop the mushfest--I appreciated that Sienna and Luke chose to live lives of fulfillment and passion but that you didn't make them so idealistic or naive that they thought they could live on passion alone. They were both willing to work jobs (plural!) that were in or close to their fields and I thought that was an important thing--it added to the realism. They weren't these rich spoiled kids, they were willing to work to live lives that were full of joy and happiness; they were willing to sacrifice the career ladder to live simply but happily. In this there was a definite idealism and I know that it can't always be that easy but I loved that you showed their willingness to work hard at what they loved and not sacrifice who they were or wanted to be to work on their dreams. Court: (Shelley...I don't need to tell you what I think of being able to sacrifice the career ladder to live simply and happily, so I'll just let that sleeping dog lie...aka, y'all...my job sucks)....hmpf...lol...but yes. The relationship with her parents, must be mentioned...their sacrifices for her, and their perception of that...I am learning these days as an adult that our lives are so much more enriched when families give to each other equally when we're adults. Let us pay you back parents! Sienna and her parents were a softer touch to this story, and I liked it.

**Possible spoiler alert!**

Shel: If I could, I'd like to ask you why you had Sienna so insistent that Luke died? That was something that felt so irrational on her part, and I wasn't sure why you made her that way? But thankfully you had Luke rectify her misconceptions, so thank you for that.

SHel: Ms. Redmerski, I've been a fan for a while now and I love how you give me things to ponder and feel conflicted about. Please keep doing what your doing. Court: Indeed. Happy reading, dear people.


“Damn, my back is killing me,” I say, grimacing and reaching behind me for my muscles again. “Sleeping on this sofa is brutal.”
Sienna’s face falls under a little veil of guilt and pity.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she says. “Is it bad?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty bad.” I groan deeply for added affect. “I should’ve crashed in Seth’s room—would have if I’d known he wasn’t coming home last night.” Truthfully, I’m not sure of that; Seth might be in his room and I just slept so well through the night that I didn’t hear him when he came in, like I usually do.
“Now I feel bad,” she says and stands up from the coffee table, her long, lightly tanned legs stretching for miles underneath the thin fabric of her cotton shorts— damn,
she is sexy; the things I want to do to her right now. “I’m not really hungry anyway, so don’t worry about breakfast. I was just messing with you.”
“Nah, don’t feel bad.” I wave it away like it’s nothing, while at the same time still kneading my back with the other hand. “I’m going to make you something . . . but you could help me out by walking on my back.”
“Huh?” Her face scrunches into a cute, confused expression. “You want me to walk on your back?”
“Well, yeah,” I say with a nod, suddenly realizing myself how just the thought of her touching me—with her feet, her hands, her lips; I don’t even care which—makes my heart ache and my palms sweaty. “It’ll work out the kinks.”
She smiles ridiculously and shakes her head—I fight the urge to reach out and pull her down on my lap; the image of her bare thighs around my waist, my hands hugging the curvature of her ass…breathe Luke…just breathe.
“I’m not walking on your back,” she sort of laughs the words out.
“Why not?” I tilt my head to one side.
“Well I think I’m a little too heavy to be walking on your back,” she says as if I should already know this. “And because it’s weird?” It was more a statement than a question, but something else she thinks I should already know, apparently.
God, she’s so fucking cute.
I roll my eyes. “Don’t tell me you’re one of those girls who wears a size zero and thinks she’s fat.”
“No! I’m not one of those,” she defends. “I just don’t want to hurt you!”
I laugh without restraint.
“OK, well you’re not going to hurt me, I can promise you that.” I get up from the couch—with pretend difficulty—and step around Sienna and the coffee table and then lay on my bare chest on the floor. “Come on. It’ll really help me out a lot.” One side of my face is pressed against the rug as I look up at her at an angle. She stands over me with her flimsy arms crossed—I grow even harder beneath my shorts.
“No, Luke,” she laughs, “I’m not going to do it.”
“Yeah you are,” I say casually and wave my hand at her as if there’s nothing to it. “The only way you can hurt me is if you jump up and down really, really hard. Now get on.”
She shakes her head repeatedly, her smile growing.
I break out the big guns.
“It’s the least you can do for me letting you stay here for free and have my bed.” I grin subtly, which I imagine looks strange with my cheek smashed against the floor.
“No!” She laughs out loud. “I’ll sleep on the couch from now on if that’s the case.”
With me? I want to say—and almost do—but restrain myself.
“No you won’t,” I tell her sharply. “What kind of guy would I be if I made you sleep on the couch while I was all sprawled out on the comfy bed? Now step on and start walkin’.”
“You’re crazy.”
Absolutely, one hundred percent, no-going-back crazy for you—I admit it.

About the author:
J. A. Redmerski, New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with her three children, two cats and a Maltese. She is a lover of television and books that push boundaries. 

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