Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
I know that Kandi Steiner promoted her newest book, Say Yes, around the nostalgia of the 90s. And while I had my time in the 90s, for me, the essence of this book that I found most compelling, most endearing is its geography which ties to the culture of her book. Even more, its central message is its power, and it girds the beauty of the romance for Harley and Liam.
You should know that Kandi Steiner is a must-read author of mine. Her ability to craft stories that are infused with angst and light in equal measure, allowing readers like myself to get lost in her romances, is the reason for my adoration. There is a generosity in her storytelling in that she gives you everything of her characters. And she does this while staying focused on a central idea. The intentionality in her choices is clear. In Say Yes, her overarching theme about acceptance is interrogated in different ways. Each of us struggles with a past decision, with a sense of ourselves in the context of limitations either physical, mental, or emotional, with the challenges of present life. Steiner doesn’t limit her readers. She shows her message in a variety of ways and she asks her readers to apply that message to themselves. She takes you deftly from a point of origin where she introduces you to her message. Then, she weaves that message through the lives of her characters, ending her story with the final conclusion: love can help you conquer and help you accept your past, your limitations, your fractured sense of self. This idea is strewn beautifully through Say Yes, and it makes you fall in love with her characters.
As I was reading this book, I was transported not to the time of this story, the 90s. Don’t get me wrong. There were moments when I smiled at Steiner’s references. However, two summers ago, I found myself in Florence, Italy, the place of this book. For me, this book place me back there, walking the same roads as Harley and Liam. As their connection evolves all over one of my favorite places on the planet, I was reminded of Florence’s beauty and splendor, one of the birthplaces of modern art. As much as Harley and Liam hold a distinct presence in this book, so does Florence, and it becomes almost its own character, a marker of the light and darkness of her characters’ journey.
And once again, as she has done with her other books, Kandi Steiner’s writing evokes emotions. From connecting with the kindred spirits of Harley and her roommate, Angela, to laughing at the 90s references to feeling gutted at Harley and Liam’s fraught romance, this book takes you on a road trip of a 1000 emotions. Say Yes is quintessential Steiner, a story that reminds you that living requires us to feel pain and joy equally.
There is a reason Kandi Steiner is a must-read, and you’ll find it in Say Yes, a beautiful story about the ability of love to redeem us and make us better.
In love and romance,