Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Loganism (n.): (lo-gan-ism) that one singular sentence in a Karla Sorensen Ward romance that flips the perspective of its titular character, usually a Ward sibling or son; a turning point; a reminder that Logan Ward (with a bit of competition from his son, Emmett Ward, is and will always be Karla Sorensen’s most swooniest MMC/hero, no matter whose story he exists in.
And so begins Karla Sorensen’s beautiful rendering of Emmett Ward and Adaline Wilder’s love journey in The Crush. To say that the anticipation for this book is high would be an understatement. When you live through the gorgeousness that is Logan and Paige’s romance in The Marriage Effect and fall deeply in love with his sisters’ stories in later books, you can’t help but want the happily ever after for the youngest Ward. And true to her skill and craftsmanship, she absolutely does not disappoint.
As Sorensen has done repeatedly, her masterful storytelling draws you deeply into Emmett and Adaline’s story. She has a heavy task ahead of her: make the reigning golden child shine in the wake of his own parents’ and aunts’ delicious stories. How do you craft Emmett Ward when his parents are beloved, the infamous markers of Sorensen’s talent? You combine the attributes into one while also giving him the space to be himself. And Emmett, well, he gives his father a run for the title as one of Sorensen’s most beloved heroes. He’s the definition of a swoony hero: handsome; a gentle giant; a feminist, raised under the careful hand of a brood of willful, independent women; and a hard worker. And he loves people, namely Adaline, hard. He loves beyond himself. There are so many gorgeous moments in The Crush that create little fractures in our reading hearts. Sorensen quickly and deftly fills them, but the mixture of nostalgia combined with Emmett’s own personal journey makes you emotional.
And there are layers of wisdom in this story: a Loganism, a deep discussion with Isabel, and a heart-to-heart conversation between Adaline and her stepfather, Tim, that create the underlying message of this book: that any relationship is hard and requires sacrifice and effort to make it profitable (not the sexiest word for a beautiful romance such as this one, but an apt word). Sorensen has the benefit of The Marriage Effect, Focused, Faked, Floored, and Forbidden as foundational to Emmett’s understanding of relationships. It’s a detriment as much as a benefit to have been surrounded by incredible relationships, but we learn through Sorensen’s storytelling that it impresses upon him incompletely. That is often the danger of romances: the idea that romance and relationships should be easy and stay easy. However, her characters and readers learn quickly that life is never easy, and we must often do what is difficult for the greater reward. To underscore that idea, Sorensen makes her readers work for Adaline and Emmett’s happy ending. In doing so, she crafts realism into the fictional world many of us love to inhabit during our reading time. This is the single main reason why I adore Sorensen to my toes. There is spice, sweetness, and light, but there is also a shade of reality in her stories that allows us to find ourselves situated with her beloved characters. And we need the promise that we can escape our own troubles and find our own happy endings too.
Is Adaline Wilder a breath of fresh air in The Curse? Indeed. She is seminal and necessary to Emmett’s growth. She is self-possessed, independent, loving, compassionate, and everything good in a romance heroine. And she knows her boundaries and lives to them. Through her characterization, we learn the importance of choosing yourself and expecting a love interest to make you a priority as well. Together, Emmett and Adaline are pure unadulterated divinity.
From her wordsmithing to her characterizations to her capacity in wringing out the details of her story, Karla Sorensen’s The Crush reminds me why she is an automatic one-click. I want to read her stories because I find life in them despite personal struggle. Emmett and Adaline will absolutely steal your heart, but you will end this book in complete and utter peace with the biggest smile on your face and happy tears in your eyes. I know I did.
In love and romance,