|Hydraulic Level Five by Sarah Latchaw|
September 3, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: eARC from publisher for honest review
How does a woman get over her one great love? With whitewater rafting, bluegrass, and a touch of revenge…My Review:
Kaye is an extreme sports addict with a kind heart and an axe to grind with her childhood sweetheart and ex-husband, renowned writer Samuel Caulfield Cabral. While Samuel enjoys a celebrity life in New York, Kaye remains in their hometown of Lyons, Colorado, running her PR agency and chatting daily with Samuel's family, the beloved Cabrals—first-generation Mexican-Americans who have embraced Kaye as their own.
But when Samuel returns home for his sister's wedding with a new love interest, stunning editor Caroline Ortega, the gloves are stripped off. Kaye is determined to unearth the reasons behind the death of their marriage and why two people who lived to love each other were driven apart, all leading to startling revelations about Samuel, about life...and about herself.
I just finished reading Hydraulic Level Five, and I can honestly say I am blown away by how special this book is. I truly loved it.
First Impression: The book had a bit of a rough start for me in that I was I was not expecting this book to touch me the way it did. I became much more emotionally attached than I'd anticipated, but that turned out to be a good thing. Also, the format in the beginning and the numerous characters took some time for me to adjust to. There are book excerpts, definitions, email messages, present tense, and flashbacks. Initially the changes confused me and I had to reread parts to put everything together. But once I figured out the author's format, I really got into it, and enjoyed it for what it was. So I will forewarn you that if, like me, some of these techniques throw you off, I say hang in there. This is a beautiful story. And if you're brighter than me, than you shouldn't have a problem.
Plot: This is a second chance story. I won't say it's a second chance at love story, because there's a second book coming, but it's still a second chance story. We have Kaye and Samuel who divorced seven years ago under heartbreaking yet confusing circumstances. They are reunited when Samuel's sister is getting married. They have layer upon layer of unresolved issues, and Kaye has finally decided she needs gets things settled between them and get answers. This book is laced with humor and pranks, tender moments recollecting the beauty of childhood friendship and young love, the heartbreak of secrets, lies, and mistrust, and the fledgling hope of new beginnings and forgiveness.
Characters: I loved that we get to know these characters throughout the story, and not completely up front. While this can sometimes be annoying, in this situation it was really well done. The main story comes from Kaye's POV, allowing us to get her perspective on not only her present self, but her past self as well. What I liked about Kaye was how she was finally working toward finding peace or resolution or whatever it was that she thought she needed to be able to move on. She was persistent yet fearful, timid but real. The way she handled things felt sincere and true, particularly because it wasn't perfect. We also get some of Samuel's perspective through his book excerpts and emails, but mostly it's through Kaye's eyes. This was the fascinating part for me - watching Kaye truly learn about this man she thought she knew so well. Samuel has so many layers that he had hidden and I loved the way they were exposed. He's not the bad guy she thought he was - but who is he? These are two imperfect people who grew up together and are now realizing there is so much about the other they don't know or didn't allow them to know. But through it all I still felt their connection.
Culture: I love that this has a strong Mexican-American base for many of the characters, yet it was not overpowering to the story. This was a nice change of pace and I loved the subtle cultural nuances.
Feelings: I was not expecting the depths of this book, and to be so touched the way that I was. It hurt to watch the pain this former couple was in, and heart broke for their circumstances. I actually felt pulled into the story and grieved the loss of their relationship right along with them. I related to the immaturity of some of their decisions. I mourned those lost years for them. I also felt the stirrings and twinges of hope. Is this the hope of friendship or future love? I don't know yet. But I like that the author did not do a quick fix of their problems. It would not have been realistic to tie everything up in a pretty bow in the last 10 pages. Because they feel like real people to me, and I love that. I feel their connection between one another, I feel connected to their story, and I look forward to how the rest of their story will play out.
Bottomline: This is a beautiful "second chance" story of hurt and heartbreak, disillusionment and disenchantment, but love and tenderness and friendship and hope. I truly loved it, bittersweet moments and all. Just writing this review has me feeling very emotional thinking about Samuel and Kaye all over again. There will be a second book, but this does not have a cliffhanger ending, so you are safe to read it. And then, like me, you will eagerly anticipate the next book.
About the Author:
Sarah Latchaw was raised in eastern Iowa and appreciates beauty in mud-splattered gravel roads, weathered farm faces, and combine harvesters powering through cornfields. She also loves to explore the world, thanks to countless family minivan trips across the States to coastal cities and national monuments. This passion for finding stories led to college adventures to Israel and Palestine, Jordan, Slovakia, Germany, and other European countries. Each place’s story rests in the back of her mind and in her childhood photo albums.
In 2002, Sarah received her BA from Wartburg College in public relations and media, and entered the workforce, ready to climb the ladder. However, when researching MBA applications evoked feelings of dread, she realized a corporate marketing career wasn’t for her. With the unfailing support of her loving husband, she chose to pursue a career in freelance and creative writing, and received her MA from Iowa State University in 2009.
These days, Sarah wakes every morning thrilled to cuddle her small children, show them the world, then capture that world and shape it into stories on paper. She also enjoys her piano, volunteering in her community, and reading anything with a cohesive plot. She and her family reside in Des Moines, Iowa.
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$25 Omnific gift card, Five (5) signed, paperback copies of Hydraulic Level Five, Ten (10) eco-friendly Duck Duck Farms totes containing signed books, music, and other Colorado-centric items.
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