Sunday, September 15, 2013

Just Remember To Breathe / Charles Sheehan-Miles

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words

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C. Sheehan-Miles has been a soldier, computer programmer, short-order cook and non-profit executive, and is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books, including the indie bestsellers Just Remember to Breathe and Republic: A Novel of America's Future.


Sixteen-year-old Alex — beautiful from an affluent West Coast family. Meets seventeen-year-old Dylan — blue collar boy from a broken home. Sparks fly, but a misunderstanding splits them apart. Two years later, they meet by a crazy coincidence. The story follows their path to find each other again. 


This story dragged for me. The characters and situation are a bit cliché, but I knew that going in, so I don’t level that as a criticism. Many good stories follow this premise. The problem was the characters didn’t come across as believable. Dylan seemed childish and insecure, even after two years deployed in a war zone. Other than his constant inner doubts about Alex, he’s presented as physically and mentally tough. Alex constantly doubts herself and responds to Dylan like a naive fourteen-year-old, even though she’s doing stellar work at college and has a supportive family.

The story alternated in first person for each character. This built a lot of repetition into the tale as we learned about the same events from each character’s perspective.

These two positions: Alex fell in love with Dylan and never stopped loving him. When they meet again she’s totally turned on by the muscles he developed in the Army. Dylan fell in love with Alex and never stopped loving her, but feels he’s not worthy of her. When they meet again, he’s totally turned on by her stunning body.

Nothing wrong with this scenario for a romance, but these themes and only these themes are repeated again, and again. Much of the story is delivered as internal narrative (angst) from the two character’s—not enough else happened for my taste.

The ending is well written and poignant. The author had me tearing up (as I should). The happy-ever-after conclusion was satisfying, but much of the story felt like filler to me, as though a novella had been turned into a novel by repeating the same themes.

Format/Typo Issues:

Too few to mention.

Rating: *** Three stars

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