22 January, 2014

#SpecialFeature :: #BookReview of In a Heartbeat (Heartbeat #1) by Teodora Kostova

Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - January'14 ***

“I’ve been in and out of hospitals for the past ten months. I’ve had half my liver removed and even though this time the doctors are very optimistic that they’ve removed all of the tumours, they can’t be sure. In another three months they want me here again for a check up. Right now I feel better than I’ve ever felt. I know the damn thing is gone, at least for the moment. Despite that, I can’t make any plans for the future, not yet. I need to go somewhere where nobody knows me, where I can relax and maybe even forget about all this. Where I can meet people who don’t think of me as the girl who lost her father and her brother in a car accident, and who has cancer. I want to have fun, even if it’s for a couple of months.” 
When Stella decides to visit her estranged cousin Lisa in Genoa, she has no idea Italy will give her a new reason to live.

“Her gaze locked on a scene so beautiful, the picturesque beach paled in comparison. A lifeguard emerged from the water, his orange trunks stuck to his legs and water dripping all over him. He shook his head to get rid of some of the water in his hair and Stella felt as if everything started developing in slow motion – tiny drops of water slid from his neck down his broad chest and muscular arms, along a weaving tattoo on his right shoulder, and continued downwards towards his chest and washboard stomach, finally getting lost in the waistband of his trunks. A part of another tattoo peeked over his trunks on his left hip, the other part hidden under them. It was a total Baywatch moment.”
Their love is epic. But there are too many things keeping them apart.

“How could you keep this from me, Lisa? If you had told me the first day I met him, I would have avoided him like the plague. Nothing would have happened between us.”
“I kept your secrets, too, Stella.”
Are Max and Stella strong enough to fight not only for their love, but for their lives?

If life is like a card game, Stella has been consistently dealt with a bad hand! She lost her brother and her father together in a car accident. Soon after her best friend moves away and then came the cancer. Been in an out of treatment centers for quite some time, Stella wants a break after her latest surgery and decides to go meet Lisa, her best friend and cousin, in Italy – where no one knows about her past and no one would look at her with pity. Max on the other hand has had his fair share of lemons in life too and he deals with it in his own way. He is a Casanova with a baggage and even though Lisa warns Stella that he is a flirt, the connection between these two is undeniable. But will Stella and Max be able to overcome their own fears and stubbornness to find their way to each other?

The best thing about this book is its cast and characters and Stella is the shining star amongst them. I loved her character for being strong and resilient. It would have been very easy for her to break down and loose her way, but she struggled and fought on for a good life. Max is a yummy lifeguard – need I say more? Oh well, he also has other qualities that helps him warm up to the readers. He is respectful, caring with a ‘soft’ heart too. Then there’s Lisa, Gia and Beppe – they are more than just side characters in Stella and Max’s love story. They are instrumental to their story and each brings in a different flavor to the lives of our protagonists. The author’s style of narration is also rather favourable. I liked how she told us Stella’s back story in a single chapter – without dragging it. She tells a story as if she is narrating it to her friends and as such I felt drawn into the story pretty quick.

As for the plot, it is simple and almost predictable. There are a few inconsistencies, especially with regards to Stella’s health that bugged me towards the beginning. But as the story progressed, I found myself not caring about those little individual things and being caught up in the larger picture. The characters, the chemistry, the secrets, the struggles and the friendships – I loved this book as a whole and enjoyed the emotional rollercoaster ride.

About the Author
Hi, my name is Teodora and I live in London with my husband Ted and my son Jason. I've been writing ever since I can remember, but it became my full time job in 2010 when I decided that everything else I've tried bores me to death and I have to do what I've always wanted to do, but never had to guts to fully embrace. I've been a journalist, an editor, a personal assistant and an interior designer among another things, but as soon as the novelty of the new, exciting job wears off, I always go back to writing. Being twitchy, impatient, loud and hasty are not qualities that help a writer, because I have to sit alone, preferably still, and write for most of the day, but I absolutely love it. It's the only time that I'm truly at peace and the only thing I can do for more than ten minutes at a time - my son has a bigger attention span than me.
When I'm procrastinating, I like to go to the gym, cook Italian meals (and eat them), read, listen to rock music, watch indie movies and True Blood re-runs. Or, in the worst case scenario, get beaten at every Wii game by a six year old.

Don't be shy and get in touch - I love connecting with my readers. 
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