Monday, March 12, 2012

Always You by Shilpa Mudiganti

Lyla has to move on. She’s been stuck in a rut since her heart was broken five years ago. Trying to decide about life with her fiancé, Nick, she resolves to finish one last project before moving to Spain and starting a new life. That is, until she is face to face with the one man who broke her heart all those years ago, Alexander Knights.

Five years ago, when Alex and Lyla meet at his friend, Andrew's grave, they fall deeply in love. But, Alex is hiding a secret that will destroy his relationship with Lyla and does. What Lyla doesn’t realize is that Alex has changed since their break-up, because of her love, only she still has hate in her heart towards him.

But now, fate has brought them together in such a way that they have no option but to remain dangerously close - dangerous enough for Lyla to fall in love with him again. How can she? Not after what she knows about Alex and what he did to Andrew.

It’s true that love can change people for the better. But is it enough? What will happen when two broken people with a past come together? Can they forgive and heal?

Reviewer: avidscribe
They loved each other without knowing each other and when a dark truth, a twisted truth, emerged, it ended all the sweetness between them.

For five years, Lyla, who calls London her home, broods, rails, and tries to rid herself of the image of her soft innocent trust ravaged by Alexander Knights, a liar she took to her bed. She believes the man she gave her heart to had something to do with the death of her first love, Andrew, who died in a car accident. Now 26, she's become the youngest senior executive in a management consulting company but she's emotionally isolated and lonely, feeling burned out and hollow and has decided to move to Spain to be closer to her doting grandmother. She's holding her fiance's engagement ring in her pocketbook because after six months she can't bring herself to formalize their union; she needs more time and wants to do it alone and her fiance, Nick, concedes to her demand.

At work, she is handed a new project with a month's completion date. It's a high risk project with a big client, unlimited budget, two countries involved and no space for failure. This is her swan song, the last project she'll be heading up before she leaves the company and she's determined to do it right. But when she walks into the meeting to meet her new team and the boss she's assigned to she gets the shock of her life. Alexander Knights (or it could be Knight, that 's' could be an error in the ARC I was given) in all his glory, heads up the team and she will be forced to work with him a solid month. How is she going to manage being in close proximity to a man she despises yet feels drawn to?

I read an ARC which was rife with errors. I hope the finished work isn't harboring the same grammatical mistakes. Saying that, the book didn't reach me. It is positioned for someone who hasn't read as many stories as this borrows heavily from. I felt it suffered from its omniscient POV because I didn't get the emotion of Lyla or the other characters involved in this short story. 'Best friend' Stella gets the short shrift in plausibility and is shunted off to the sidelines as a lovestruck part of Lyla's team who falls for a guy on Nick's team. Nothing more is given her character till the very end of the story. For someone who holds the key to Lyla's happiness, more storyline should have been given to this woman as she is revealed as knowing the real story behind Andrew's death. That she knows Lyla has suffered for five years and said nothing to assuage her deep grief and finger pointing accusations towards Alex is outrageous and unbelievable. Friend? How could she be?

Alexander has never forgotten Lyla and for all the author's attempts at painting him 'dangerous', he's weak kneed and fawning over her, reacting to her like a lovesick boy rather than a man of the world as we're supposed to believe. He's painted as a Casanova but comes up thoroughly emasculated at every turn, over emoting and carrying a fierce torch for her that glows so brightly it's improbable, irritating, and ignoble. I kept wanting to kick him and scream, 'GROW SOME BALLS!'

When Lyla, inebriated, knocks on Alex's door in the middle of the night wanting to share his bed and unable to sleep I groaned out loud. Who couldn't see this coming the moment she started drinking? But the lack of reality is at every turn as the author finds ways to push them together and pull them apart.

The project that is so important to both of them is never discussed. It's the McGuffin that serves as the conveyance to throw Alex and Lyla together where they feel the thrum of desire while Lyla spins them both out of her own confusion. By the time the teams land in Paris, the City of Love, she's leaning towards the want of Alex but who should show up uninvited but her fiance Nick. He's flown over from Spain after 6 months of avoidance and wants an answer. Is Lyla ready to commit?

Lyla introduces both men in the hotel lobby with an inner cringe.
Lyla couldn’t decide which was the bigger lie—Nick as her fiancé or Alex as her colleague.
She puts on Nick's ring in the presence of Alex, feeling conflicted and guilty. Nick wants an equal, someone who will love him with an undivided heart. Apparently he has not had sex with Lyla in all the time they've been together—which sounds implausible to the nth degree when they have no problem sleeping together in the same bed. The author says
Not once did he try to force himself upon her, though he had a right.
Excuse me? When is it ever a man's right to force himself on a woman? Any woman? Wow, that was a line I couldn't get past and left me with a lot of distaste in my mouth.

Can Lyla accept the challenge or can she forgive Alex and move forward?

One star. I'll wait for the author to have a few more books under her belt before I pick her up again. It's a nice enough book for the start of her writing career but her approach and characterizations have a long way to go.

Publisher: InkSpell Publishing


Kimberly @ Turning the Pages said...

This is one I definetly won't be checking out!
-Kimberly @ Turning The Pages

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