Thursday, July 9, 2015

review || ELUDE { release day ! } by Rachel Van Dyken

Self-Published | July 9, 2015 | New Adult / Mafia
Eagle Elite, book 6


Twenty-Four hours before we were to be married--I offered to shoot her.

Ten hours before our wedding--I made a mockery of her dying wish.

Five hours before we were going to say our vows--I promised I'd never love her.
One hour before I said I do--I vowed I'd never shed a tear over her death.

But the minute we were pronounced man and wife--I knew.
I'd only use my gun to protect her.

I'd give my life for hers.

I'd cry.

And I would, most definitely, lose my heart, to a dying girl---a girl who by all accounts should have never been mine in the first place.

I always believed the mafia would be my end game--where I'd lose my heart, while it claimed my soul. I could have never imagined. It would be my redemption.

Or the beginning of something beautiful.

The beginning of her.

The end of us.

{ about rachel van dyken } .

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at

{ review -- reflection } .

Let me start with this:

I pre-ordered the book and was sure to be up at midnight when it hit my Kindle. I read for an hour and had to put it down, only to pick it back up no more than fifteen minutes later -- I couldn't stop my brain. Finally, I put it down for the night at 3 am and woke up at 7 to finish. Finished. Took a break and wrote the review. Stayed holed up in my house because my eyes look like the Michelin man -- yes, just my eyes. Finally at 4 I ventured out because my glasses were able to hide most of the evidence.

But my goodness gracious, anytime I even start to reflect on this story, I get all weepy again. I am now at my father's for dinner and was trying to explain my swollen face. He asked how it could be a romance book and sad at the same time, so I'm telling him and again I'm crying.

Rachel... I don't know how you do it. You pull out all the stops in comedy (CONSEQUENCES), and do the mafia thing well. And the emotion? Goodness, gracious, girlfriend, I'm not sure how you survived writing this...

I’m not really sure how to write this, so here goes…

Talk about a roller coaster ride. We met Andi in EMBER and knew she was going to die. Sergio’s punishment for two-timing and working with the families and the FBI was to marry Andi and protect her from her father for her last few months. He wanted nothing to do with it (he has multiple reasons), even offered to shoot her the night before the wedding – a courtesy he’d give a dog.

Andi’s a pretty upbeat chica; she is definitely Sergio’s feisty counterpart. You cannot help but fall in love with her -- Sergio never stood a chance.

And then singing at the top of her lungs while making eggs with extra ketchup… the ketchup she said represented blood, and, since I’d killed so many people, she wanted to remind me of my sins every day.

Her words. Not mine.

She smiles and laughs and tries to see the good in everything (and if Sergio’s honest, he finds her amusing). She knows her days are numbered. She was taught once, though, that she should look at the gift of another day and be happy.

[Luca had] taught me that each sunrise was a new promise, a new beginning, a new chance at extraordinary.

She has her fears though. As she admits to Sergio one night, she fears that her cancer is her punishment for the life she lived, the life she was born in to. She also fears leaving behind her new best friend.

Watching Sergio go through so many changes was enlightening. He started to care a lot sooner than he would admit to – after the banging of pots and pans with baseball bats, you know. Andi shows Sergio again and again how well she’s gotten to know him (‘Stop rolling your eyes, Italy.’). Watching his heart thaw and him allowing Andi into it was beautiful and heartbreaking.

I would not necessarily say Andi was optimistic. Optimism kind of gives off the vibe that she thinks she’s going to be ok. But what she was was light. She was brightness and fun and giving and quite simply, she was love.

The time – we still had it – and that, my friend, is a beautiful ending.

Prior to this book, I read the family's other outcast and was absolutely in love with Phoenix. He had his stellar moments in this book...

“I have to say something.” Phoenix’s eyes were glassy with tears. “And I’m sorry if I’m being that guy right now, but I have to say it.”

“I’ve never…” He shook his head as tears filled his eyes. “…respected a man as much as I respect you, right now, in this moment.”

I swallowed the knot in my throat. “Oh yeah? Why?”

“Because I see it, Sergio. I feel it. I know it. What it’s like to be saved, to have someone see you for you, not just what you want people to see. But who grasps the innermost parts of your darkness and calls bullshit on your own insecurities, who takes you for who you are and says its okay. I know.” He licked his lips and looked down at the table. “I know it, probably better than most, and now, so do you. She’s dying, man, and I can’t…my brain can’t comprehend the gravity or the depth of the sorrow you feel, and I can’t help you —none of us can —and it’s choking to watch, to live through, so I can’t imagine being you, I can’t imagine being her, and because of that, I respect you so much that now, right here, right now, I vow to do my damnedest to help you when this is done. I’ll get your ass out of bed when it seems too hard. I’ll shoot you in the ass if you don’t eat. I’ll do what I can because I owe you at least that much for showing me what it’s really like to be selfless —to love.”

And I cried. 

Big heaving sobs wracked my body. 

And Phoenix De Lange of all people…

Held me.

When reading the EAGLE ELITE stories, you always have a sense of family – but it’s very much the dysfunctional family. In ELUDE, though, the family puts away the knives and the guns (ok, they’re still out and they do make appearances at family dinners) but there’s more normal to them. I felt like the family came together more so then they typically would. They come together and help when Sergio and Andi need it most; they give space when it’s needed and are right there to flank them on either side when it’s time.

“You will be [okay].” Andi cupped my face. “You know that, right?”

“No,” I blurted. “But for you… I’ll try.”

Sergio turns out to be a really good guy, but I think I loved him most when they went on their world trip, to the zoo and London and China...

...and because I can't manage to get my spoiler buttons to work: the following can probably be considered a spoiler, so consider this your warning...

{ you still have time to turn around ... }

{ turn off your browser ... }

{ ok, here goes! }

This book was like American Sniper and Titanic. You knew what was going to happen in the end. You knew that you didn’t want it to happen that way, but history couldn’t change itself. You knew she was going to die but you read anyway, having a slimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, everything would be ok. Now, yes, I did the Mignon thing and read the end. Sue me. So maybe that’s why I cried the whole damn book. Even when reading from the beginning, little things would be said, little moments would happen, and the waterworks started again. This book was my own PS I LOVE YOU – you know, the movie you go to when you need a good cry, except this was a book. I went through a lot of Kleenex (err… a roll of toilet paper, shh), Advil, water… I started the book at midnight, put it down at one only to pick it back up a little while later. Put it back down at three and slept for four hours; picked it up and finished. My eyes are so swollen that the swollen parts have swollen parts. My nose is chapped, my eyes are chapped, and my heart hurts. I love that on a man who hides his tattoos, he puts one for her in very plain sight, using a tally system that she gives him -- and I love him for that. No worries, though, there are lots of happy parts! Like Nixon knowing Trace’s body better than her own… The book kind of ends on a cliff hanger too, if you want to get down to it -- because he still needs his happily ever after. It will take time, but I think Andi had the right idea for Sergio.

"'re going to fall in love, and it's going to epic and beautiful and heartbreaking."

1 comment:

  1. I love how different this sounds. This is my first time seeing this book and author. Thanks for the great detailed review.