Beautiful Life by Brynne Asher
Published by Self-published on February 24, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Suspense
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Available on KU at posting: Yes
Webster’s defines to heal as “to make healthy, whole or sound; restore to health, free from ailment.” But Webster’s also defines to heal as “to free from evil; cleanse; purify: to heal the soul.”
My soul is shattered.
I’m one hell of a mess because I need both and I don’t know how both can possibly happen. Sure, I know my body will heal. I understand the science of healing, it’s my profession. But I sense the ache in my heart and fear in my head will never heal. Can I ever recover from losing my unborn child at the hands of my abusive husband? Will I ever learn to think for myself again? No, I’ve been trained to fear those who are supposed to love me, conditioned to watch my every move and word so as to not suffer the consequences. I don’t think being healed will ever be a possibility for me.
Or I didn’t until Tony Carpino fixated himself in my life.
Tony is patient. Determined. He knows exactly what I need even before I do. He’s wants to give me everything, make my life beautiful when my life has always been ugly. But as perfectly determined and patient as he is, I don’t know if I can ever be whole again. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve wanted him…and I’ve wanted Tony Carpino for a long time.
This is a story of heartache and broken souls. A story of being exactly what the one you love needs when they need it, even if it goes against every being of your nature. Because love isn’t love unless it’s selfless. Can Tony love Leigh enough to heal the demons that haunt her broken soul and have the woman he missed out on years ago?
This is a love story.
This is the story of Tony and Leigh.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
We were pretty happy to be asked to do a buddy read of Brynne Asher’s second book, Beautiful Life. Overall, it was pretty clear Ms. Asher is coming into her own as a writer. Although there were a few editing errors, this one felt a lot more polished than the first book in the series, Overflow. During our buddy read, we actually had some pretty heavy conversations going on about how a battered woman’s mind works as she is going through the process of getting rid of her abuser. We love books that make you think and this one did, even if there were differing opinions on what Leigh should and shouldn’t have done. One issue we all agreed on was that although this was a lollipop sweet book at times with some pretty heavy subject matter, it felt slow at other times and definitely needed more suspense. Beautiful Life had a Kristen Ashley feel to it but not so much that it felt like a cheap knock-off. I loved the laugh out loud moments like with the clown car, Tony’s golden doodle, and the 80’s Birthday Party (I am definitely having one of those and it’s going to be epic!). We can’t wait to see what Ms. Asher has in store for us next. ~Spice
I read Overflow, the first book on the Carpino series, and while I enjoyed it I felt at the time that while being a great tribute from a Kristen Ashley’s fan, it wasn’t quite there yet as a story in itself.
In this book, I felt Ms. Asher’s growth as an author, and it made a real and big difference. It still has a very distinctive KA feeling to it, but in a way that you can enjoy it and it’s clearly evolving into Brynne Asher’s own thing.
The story in Beautiful Life takes up where Overflow left off and tells the story of Leigh, who just made it out of a very abusive marriage with a great loss, and Tony Carpino (Gaby’s cousin from the first book). Tony, in true Alpha fashion, decides he won’t let another chance at Leigh and a future with her pass him by, and he jumps head first into winning her trust and love.
I always wonder if lawyers actually have the time to go to the gym to keep in shape… Tony is hot, sweet, considerate, awesome in bed and completely dedicated to the task he set for himself (getting Leigh to be his).
Leigh has had a difficult childhood, a way more difficult marriage, and is now trying to pick up the pieces of her former self. The question is, how can you put yourself together when you were never really together in the first place?
I liked how Tony gave Leigh time to heal. I won’t lie, at times I wanted to hit her in the head. Leigh reminded me a bit of Tess from Wild Man by Kristen Ashley, with her burying her head in the sand and the “I can’t think about this now, I’ll leave it for later” mentality.
There’s a little drama with Leigh’s mother and then her sister. A suspense plot revolving around a threat to Leigh also develops.
This second work from Brynne Asher, in my opinion, is far better than her first and if she keeps it up, she’ll be someone to have an eye out for. I’m greatly anticipating her next book and I’m positive she’ll keep getting better!
This book can be read as a standalone, but many of the family members and their dynamics are introduced in book #1 so if you have the time, check out Overflow.
Sparkles Rating: 4 Stars
Reading Beautiful Life was like a nice Sunday drive through the country when you were expecting a trip in the fast lane. Where the first book in the series was full of suspense, this one was more a story about the relationship between Leigh and Tony. To me, it was a story of a battered and broken woman and the man who made it his goal in life to help her heal so he could give her the beautiful life he felt she deserved.
Parts of the book were beautifully written and I feel like Brynne Asher was spot on with how she portrayed the thought process of how an abused woman can sometimes feel about herself when she is going through the healing process. I liked Leigh, despite how fragile she was. I usually like my heroines tougher but her state of mind definitely fit what she had endured.
Tony was my favorite. An alpha who put aside his tendencies in order to do what’s best for his woman, he won me over completely. He handled her with care, maybe at times with too much care.
This book was definitely slower paced. I would have preferred more suspense and felt there were some missed opportunities to make a really good story great. I do feel like the author is coming into her own, and it will be a treat to follow along as she grows as a writer. Write faster Ms. Asher, I can’t wait to read the next one in the series.
Spice’s Rating: 4 Stars
A sweet romance that would make for a great holiday read. It starts off with a good pace, then eases up and continues into a very sweet game of patience. It tells the story of Leigh, a broken woman who is determined to rise above the life she has put behind her on her own. Tony, the cousin of a childhood friend, is there for her even when she isn’t aware that this is his intention. There are references to the characters that appear in Overflow (Book#1) but the focus is on Tony and Leigh, so Beautiful Life could be read as a standalone.
‘I’m left standing in the Carpino Law Partners posh hallway unable to move. He can’t do that. Can he do that? I turn to the massive mahogany table and decide it’s time to pay attention.’
Leigh’s abusive husband takes it one step too far and in doing so finds himself facing a divorce. Leigh wants out, nothing more. Tony, her newly found legal representative wants to ensure that she will not suffer in the future. He’s making sure her ex is going to be taken to the bank!
Beautiful Life is a romance between childhood acquaintances. It’s anything but a smooth path they embark on with Leigh having just left an abusive marriage. She needs representation to get through the divorce proceedings and this is where Tony comes into the picture. She didn’t ask for Tony’s help, she expected someone else in the family firm and Tony represents her the way he thinks it should go, not willing to follow her instructions. And so the battle begins with Leigh’s adopted family, the Carpinos who want nothing more than happiness for Leigh.
‘I want things. I want to be normal, or whatever kind of normal you Carpinos have.’
There was a slow burn to the romance. Tony was sweet, patient and strategic when it came to trying to win over Leigh. He has a battle on his hands though, between his family, ghosts from the past and her determination to be independent, it’s not an easy task. Leigh is in a dark space, struggling with not only the physical but also the psychological damage her ex has left her with.
“I’ll even call you so you won’t have to do ‘the texting,'” Paige adds with a big smile as she hands Rosa her bag and ‘cellular’ phone.’
There’s a cameo appearance of one of the Carpinos neighbours, Miss Rosa, who was a hoot. She has lots of potential and I hope she plays a bigger role in future books. Her honesty and willingness to stay in touch with the modern world mad me smile. I would like to see her jump in with more of ‘the texting’.
‘This is a new feeling. To be cared for. To be cherished.
Many sweet moments that were well told. There are a few good opportunities for suspenseful moments that went begging. Whenever there was drama, it happened and then went back to contentment (or striving for) again. It didn’t take away from the story, there was just the potential for a lot more IMO. Paige’s book is next and here’s hoping that book might include her recipes for some of her cookies!
What I loved:
- Tony gave her space to make her own choices, including the Clown Car
- He remembered the little things for her, like the flowers
- Leigh remembering Gabby’s parents in such a beautiful way.
- The cookies – I had visions of a room full of ‘Cookie Monsters’
- Finny – nice move with acquiring the rescue dog, could Tony do anymore to be that ‘perfect’ guy?
- Family dinner sitting at the children’s table and letting one of the girls try on her shoes, nice
What I struggled with:
- Gabby – strange way she asked that significant request of Tony
- Leigh calling Tony – Tone (The sweet got a little too much at times)
- The crazed guy who gave them grief (could have been more drama as to the lead into his action. I get why he did what he did, but I felt this was an opportunity missed)
- Her nightmares, beyond sad…
Lily’s Rating: 3.5 Stars
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