Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Anyone who has read A.L. Jackson knows that she corners the market on the tortured hero. She writes the heck out of them and causes you to fall deeply for them because their brokenness and belief that they don’t deserve the heroine is attractive. Her newest story, Give Me A Reason, is no different. LIke her Sunder Guys or her Falling Stars heroes, Trent, her newest hero, is the epitome of the broken hero. Jackson writes darkness into him which means, based on the rules of romancelandia and Jackson herself, he needs light and life to counter his shadows. And Give Me A Reason does not disappoint in presenting Trent and Eden as the yin to the other’s yang.
Beautifully constructed, Give Me A Reason is lyrical in its presentation. Jackson’s writing is as much poetry as it is prose, and she entices you into her story with punctuated fragments to mimic punches to your soul and words that feel like the overwhelming emotions of Trent and Eden.
The oscillation in the denial of their feelings for each other pulls you in while the broken chronology of her story holds you in its thrall. Moving forward for most of the story, Jackson keenly punches into their forward motion with the details of the past, and she builds her story like an expert mason does a brick wall. Little by little, she teases at your own emotions as Trent and Eden move back and forth between denial and attraction. At just the right times, Jackson gives you more of them, but everything feels precarious even to the last 5 percent of this book.
I love the message of forgiveness: forgiveness for past wrongs, forgiveness from others, but most importantly, the forgiveness of one’s self. This is the underlying theme that twists and turns through Give Me A Reason. Trent’s denial of love and light comes from his inability to forgive himself of his past. He believes he cannot have good in the world. Jackson makes you empathize with him through his self-flagellation. Then, she gives you his Eden, his paradise, in the form of his heroine. She speaks truth into his darkness, and you find yourself lost in their love affair.
Add to the message ancillary characters such as Gage, Trent’s son, who steals the story. Jackson has this ability to write children characters that add dimension to her story while providing levity. Additionally, we meet Jud and Logan, Trent’s brothers, who will find their own stories in this new Redemption Hills series. These two act as his wizened and closest advisors, a true place to fall when he becomes overwhelmed by his adoration for Eden.
One moment, Give Me A Reason is a study in chemistry, and the next moment, it’s a heart-pounding bit of suspense. At its core, though, A.L. Jackson’s newest book is a fluid, beautiful romance that reminds us that forgiveness and love should rule our lives.
In love and romance,