Book Review for “Just Remember to Breathe” by Charles Sheehan-Miles

October 9, 2012 at 12:36 am Leave a comment

Title: Just Remember to Breathe
Author: Charles Sheehan-Miles
Genre: New Adult Romance
Publication Date: August 30th 2012
Purchase: Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | B&N

Alex Thompson’s life is following the script. A pre-law student at Columbia University, she’s focused on her grades, her life and her future. The last thing she needs is to reconnect with the boy who broke her heart.

Dylan Paris comes home from Afghanistan severely injured and knows that the one thing he cannot do is drag Alex into the mess he’s made of his life.

When Dylan and Alex are assigned to the same work study program and are forced to work side by side, they have to make new ground rules to keep from killing each other.

Only problem is, they keep breaking the rules.

The first rule is to never, ever talk about how they fell in love.

Book Review

I requested Just Remember to Breathe because I was in the mood for some simple, uncomplicated romance. This book doesn’t give you that at all – major bad judgement on my part. What it does give you, is the complex life story of two college students struggling to keep their head above the water. There is nothing uncomplicated here: everything is complicated, and choices one has made in the past clearly affect the present. The characters are dynamic and intriguing, their personalities anything but generic, their life stories anything but simple. There is romance here, but it’s a heartwrenching romance, the kind that leaves your heart bleeding as the two characters keep on bickering for reasons that shouldn’t matter yet somehow do. A tough read, one that will make you cry and laugh at the same time, but one that will definitely leave you breathless.

Alex fell in love with a boy named Dylan several years ago, when they went to Tel Aviv to spend the most beautiful weeks of their lives together. Afterwards, they tried to keep up a long-distance relationship, but with 4000 miles between them and their histories and future even further apart, that’s not easy. Dylan enrolls for the army, and Alex goes off to college. After having drunk too much one night, she breaks up with him through Skype, only to regret it seconds later. But Dylan disappears off the face of the earth. No more Skype calls. No emails. Nothing. And Alex, suffering from a broken heart, is left to pick up the pieces. But after she returns to college after a summer away with her family, she runs into Dylan at school. They have the same work assignment, and switching is not an option. Forced to work together, they must set some ground rules, before they both break each other’s heart again.

Dylan on the other hand, feels undeserving of Alex. His father was an aggressive alcoholic, and although his Mom has cleaned up her act, his home life isn’t exactly spectacular. In fact, those weeks spent in Tel Aviv were the best weeks of his life. The army is harsh and brutal, and shortly after Alex broke up with him, a mission goes horribly wrong. Dylan’s best friend, Roberts, is killed instantly, and Dylan’s leg gets hurt severely. On top of that, he suffered some brain damage – he can’t remember basic words sometimes, and he’s suffering from Post Traumatic Stress. The man Alex once knew and loved is long gone, and in his place is a war-hardened veteran who feels more guilt than one person can bare. Can Dylan stand it to face Alex again, after how they broke things off?

The more these two spend time together, the clearer their bond becomes, and the underlying tension between them rises. They’re from very different worlds, but they’re meant to be together. The only person stopping them is themselves. There’s a love story here that grabbed my heart – it was so charming and sweet, yet so bitter and hurtful. Dylan was one of the most intriguing NA characters I’ve ever read about. It doesn’t happen very often that you come across a war vet in a NA novel. I definitely applaud the author for having the courage to take on such sensitive topics as losing one’s best friend in war, survivor’s guilt, PTSD and war in general.

You need to read this book primarily for the characters. Their voices are very authentique, and they come to live on the pages. The book reads like a movie script – fast and fluent, and never once does the pace drop. A must-read for all new adult romance fans.

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