Overall Grade: More than ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
There is something in the literary world called Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory or the theory of omission. It asserts that “the deeper meaning of a story should not be evident on the surface, but should shine through implicitly” (Wikipedia). Even though Hemingway’s words and style seemed stark, it’s clear that there was something more to glean underlying those words.
After reading Jewel E. Ann’s newest book, The Life That Mattered, the first book of The Life Series, like Hemingway’s theory, there is much more beyond the words of her story. In this space lies its truth: the realization of the unpredictability of life. Through Ronin and Evelyn along with Lila and Graham’s stories, there is this potentiality for nothing to be as it seems. It’s this realization that both guts you and challenges you to reconsider love and the temporality of life.
I won’t tell you anything about this story. There is too much revealed in its pages. There are four main characters, although Ronin and Evelyn “Evie” are our core hero and heroine, Lila and Graham are key to this story. These four are intertwined and act as foils to the other. Ro and Evie are the ubiquitous soulmate match. They are so deep into each other that saying “I love you” instantly reduces the way in which they love each other. There is a knowingness of it, but the words seem ineffective in quantifying it. Lila and Graham act as the foil to Evie and Ro’s relationship. As the story progresses, they predictably follow a more linear path, one created through the careful planning of Graham for his future. With Ro and Evie, Ann gives us the depth of love, while Lila and Graham feel like the lack. However, as I’ve stated above, there is something more at play here. This is where you find the genius of Jewel E. Ann. It’s there where her devoted readers love to exist even when we know the emotional gutting will come because nothing is at it seems here. Through her storytelling, the depth of the story isn’t stated, but it is most definitely implied.
There’s this delicious quality of The Life That Mattered where the silence between the words speaks louder than the words on the page. As the reader, you find yourself wanting in to that silence because you know that’s where the story’s secrets lie. It’s clear that there is more to know, yet, through her skilled writing, Jewel E. Ann keeps the story’s secrets from the reader. It’s there that the emotion begins to build, creating this story that reaches into your soul and takes pieces of it.
I came away from the story with so many questions and concerns. These roiled through my mind and soul for two weeks after reading this book as I tried to make sense of it, as I tried to create meaning where it might not reside. This book is part of a duet, so there is definitely more to be told; however, Ann leaves us on a huge cliffhanger at the end of The Life That Mattered. Even more, the story finds itself in the midst of emotional turmoil due to its secrets. There is clearly nothing predictable about Jewel E. Ann’s story.
As is the case with her books, the Jewel E. Ann stamp is here. Her beautiful prose continues to sing off the page. She is one of those writers who is quotable, and her words burrow into your heart and soul as little nuggets. Additionally, her voice feels different with this book. This one holds some interesting sexual secrets that read differently from her other books. The story itself has a similar quality to her Transcend Duet. In fact, she mentioned in one of her posts on FB or her newsletter that this book is as paranormal as she has been to date. Personally, I hate characterizing her in the context of a trope because it reduces her storytelling. Instead, there is suspense here, contemporary romance, and a little PNR. Yet, when you read The Life That Mattered, all that you need to know is that Jewel E. Ann’s storytelling is impeccable as she illustrates the tenuous threads of time intertwined with the precarious nature of humanity. For me, it’s this depth of storytelling that set me into a delicious emotional spiral that has yet to fully resolve itself. I am certain that, maybe, the second book of the duet, The Life You Stole, might right my ship, so to speak.
If it isn’t clear here, Jewel E. Ann is one of my top authors. She doesn’t qualify herself as a certain type of writer. Instead, she tells the stories of her soul. The Life That Mattered (and its successor) offers these intimations that there is always more to life. That, when we believe we can anticipate life going a certain way, it will inherently choose its own path. Ro and Evie seem like fated soulmates, and the depth of their love is clear. Yet, life will hand them complications, and we hope their love is deep enough to survive it. Jewel E. Ann’s The Life That Mattered is a juggernaut of emotions and will both make your soul sing its song of praise and sorrow. Be ready…there are definitely secrets between its words.
In love and romance,