“Don’t sweat it. Everything is temporary.” Except A Place without You.
Quite frankly, it has taken me a few days to really put my mind around Jewel E. Ann’s newest book and offer a review that would do her book justice. So here goes.
Before I begin, you need to know that Jewel E. Ann wears the crown of romance in my opinion. She is my #1 favorite author. Don’t get me wrong. If you have read any of my blog posts/reviews, you know I have several favorite authors. But Jewel is my creme de la creme. You should know that before I move further into the review of her latest book, A Place without You (APYM), releasing January 2nd. Also, you should know that she allowed me to edit the draft of this book, so I’ve read it twice — once in production and once after publication. There’s that.
There are three truths you should know about Jewel and her writing:
- She is a wordsmith. When I read her books, there are actual nuggets of word joy that spread goosebumps over my skin and build butterflies in my stomach. I want her to put together a Most Quotable Jewel E. Ann reference book simply so the words of her books can be compacted together and treasured. There is something vibrant and delicious in the way she weaves words into gleaming truths for her characters.
- Her characters usually struggle with some societal challenge, some taboo topic or concern. In When Life Happens, infidelity is explored. Look The Part reveals the emotional and physical consequences of drinking and driving. Her Transcend duet toys with the idea of soul mates and reincarnation (not in a paranormal way). These tomes are just a smattering of this. What she does through her writing is give you space to consider your values or thoughts on the topic.
- Jewel writes soul mates. Sometimes, the characters recognize this early; other times, it may take them longer to understand that their souls find completion in each other. Her characters don’t engage in empty relationships. They find solace in each other, oftentimes making her stories heartbreaking as they struggle through the challenges of their lives. Her Jonesies (the FB reader group for Jewel E. Ann) find exhilaration in reading the heartbreak and coming out a bit broken but resolved in the end.
All of these truths are evident in A Place without You.
As I read her draft and subsequent publication, I was bowled over by her words. Here are a few of my favorite lines from this book:
“Time is a weak force compared to other earthly phenomena like magnetism. Attraction doesn’t give a shit about time. It wants what it wants. I know one thing for sure—long after our time ends, I will feel an invisible pull to her for the rest of my life. Yin and Yang. Positive and negative. Bodhi and Henna.”
“We are greater than you and greater than me, and we are definitely greater than our life’s circumstances.”
“Timing guides our lives more than love. Love is just an emotion—timing is our destiny. Missed opportunities. Serendipity. Fate … it’s all about timing, not love.”
“His words overflow my heart, dripping down…staining my soul with the most beautiful promise.”
“Except for Bodhi. With Bodhi, I live. I breathe. I dream. I imagine. I’m limitless with him. But without him, I’m…”
“The Law of Henna and Bodhi: When love breaks, fall inward, fall together, and fall hard. Then let time pick up the pieces.”
“Hi. I’m pretty sure you’re still my greatest memory.”
“Funny…” I shake my head. “Because after two years, a million new faces, and countless cities … every place was simply a place without you. So it doesn’t matter that everyone wanted that for me. I only wanted you.”
“The world is big, but our time here is small and precious. Life is meant to be lived, not solved. And love … well, it’s like a white T-shirt with french fries and ketchup. It’s messy, but worth the risk.”
“The hate, the immaturity, the fear, the pain … it’s no longer part of us. Henna and Bodhi are simply more. More love. More days of living. More nights of passion. Just so much more…”
When you read her words, you breathe the life of her characters, Bodhi and Henna. In this book, though, it isn’t just Henna and Bodhi and their story. It’s the ancillary characters such as Barrett (Bodhi’s father), Juni (Henna’s mother), Zach (Henna’s step-father), and Mitchell (Henna’s father). With each of these characters, Jewel’s words flow. There is an emotional depth to all of their words which lets you know this story matters. These characters’ stories matter.
In this book, the topics are heady: euthanasia, forbidden romance, and timing. I don’t want to touch the first topic because it will give too much away in the story, and I implore you to read this book, especially to challenge your thinking on this topic. However, this book is something of a forbidden romance. When Jewel announced her intent for APWY to involve a “student-teacher” relationship, I was nervous. As a professor, the thought of a romance with a student makes my skin feel tight (and not in that sexual way you read about in books). She told me it would be tasteful, and I’d be “okay” with it. She wasn’t lying. Bodhi and Henna’s relationship, under romantic terms, would be deemed a forbidden relationship (age difference and guidance counselor/student), but it is tasteful. You accept their relationship, and you find yourself wanting to punch Principal Rafferty’s face due to her lack of grace for Henna. I never felt uncomfortable reading Bodhi and Henna’s relationship. It is natural; it is beautiful; it is necessary to understanding the biggest truth of this story: time.
Isn’t it true? Love is about timing, finding the right moment in your life to love someone else. There is no doubt that Henna and Bodhi are soulmates. That is a truth evident from the start. However, even though we understand that truth from the start, it doesn’t mean that their story is meant for now. And that is a truth for everyone. Not every relationship is meant for “now.” So, with that truth, you must know that this story covers time and space. If you are expecting something quick and fast, you will be disappointed. You will need to wait. Be patient. Trust Jewel.
Lastly, the story isn’t grandiose. The characters and their connections to each other are the strength of this story. This is where I shed most of my tears. (Yes, you will cry with this story. Either that, or you have a dead, cold heart). The development of relationships is never without heartbreaks, never without strife. A Place without You will show you that. And the depth of Henna and Bodhi or Bodhi and Barrett or Henna and Barrett or Henna and Juni is the gold of this book. It was a privilege to read about them, to encounter them in the story, living their lives. The connections between them all is, for me, the story’s zenith. If your romance kink is character development (which is mine), then you will love this book.
There is one more thing I love about Jewel E. Ann and her books. Like any good romance, there is $ex in her stories. However, unlike other stories, it is never a focal point. I’ve read so many books wherein the author writes an amazing se%ual scene, a little story, another amazing se%ual moment, a little story, etc. When you read a JEA story, you get a story with wholly-developed characters and little sexy mixed in. It never dominates or takes control; instead, it elevates and adds layers to the complexities of the characters’ stories. It is one more reason that she is my Queen Bee of Romance.
Overall, buy this book, read this story, and wrap yourself in Jewel E. Ann’s amazing prose. If you read on Kindle like me, you will have so many highlights that you can revel in later. From someone who has read this book a couple of times, A Place without You can never be temporary; it can only be eternal.
Add to GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41451308-a-place-without-you
In love and romance,
Photo Courtesy of Jewel E. Ann