Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
As Thea and Ramsey’s story in Aly Martinez’s Release slowly and achingly resolves itself, a huge secret is revealed that seeks to derail their resolution. That secret is born of Ramsey’s sister, Nora. I remember reading it and being completely astonished by it, but thankfully, Martinez rectifies Thea and Ramsey’s story albeit leaving Nora’s side quiet. With Martinez’s newest book, Reclaim, Nora finds her voice. Had you told me that Nora’s story would usurp her brother’s, I would have laughed at you. See, I read Release on a whim. I was intrigued by the premise, although I had not yet read a romance by Martinez. I downloaded the Audible edition one day and couldn’t stop listening to it. Thea and Ramsey’s epic love story stole a little piece of my heart. When Martinez announced Reclaim, I knew that I needed Nora’s portion of the story, and this book feels even bigger than her brother’s.
At its most essential level, Reclaim is an enduring romance about resiliency and tenacity. It’s about overcoming trauma and abuse. Reclaim is an ode to overcoming the odds and finding yourself when almost everyone in your life has left you behind. It’s a beautiful story of two people, fated for each other. Camden and Nora are meant to be before they ever really understand what that means.
Like Release, Reclaim is an epic love story. It spans years, beginning as a friendship between two outsiders and ending as a relationship of soulmates. It is a slow burn. If you are impatient and want immediate results, it isn’t here, but there is a supreme beauty in the evolution of Camden and Nora’s story. Reclaim falls under the friends-to-lovers trope, but it’s one that feels believable. You know from the outset of their meeting that these two will eventually find a future together, but Martinez crafts their story to make you wait. This has more to do with a need for Nora to love herself before someone else can love her.
Camden is that man. He is the type of hero who feels like a do-gooder, but he’s bucking the society of his upbringing. He has an honor and awareness of right and wrong, even though his immediate and extended family live by a different type of honor, one grounded in family secrets. He is a gem in the context of his upbringing, and he pours so much into Nora that you become enamored with him. Martinez makes you fall in love with Camden because he loves Nora to the marrow of his bones.
In terms of Nora, Martinez’s heroine, there is a complexity in her characterization. When her secret is revealed in Release, you can’t help but feel angry by her decisions. Yet, Martinez brilliantly humanizes her in Reclaim. You understand her choices even if it causes issues for other characters. You want her to hurriedly heal so she and Camden can find a future together, but Martinez puts you through the paces. This feels like a necessary evil to underscore her message about the need to ask for help and love yourself even when you’ve made poor choices. This feels essential to Martinez’s story.
Every moment of Martinez’s Reclaim feels like poetry in action. While there are moments when you die for Camden and Nora to be together, I love that Martinez draws a story that meanders through the difficulty of her characters’ lives. It invests you in their heartbreak so that you can cheer on their successes. Aly Martinez’s Reclaim is a story that makes you wait, and in the end, the result is a beautifully wrought ending that promises that even bad choices can result in happily-ever-afters.
In love and romance,