Review: Lifers by Jane Harvey-Berrick


Title: Lifers
Author: Jane Harvey-Berrick
Date of publication: 7 February 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Small town

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

My rating: 3.5 stars


After eight years in prison, twenty-four year old Jordan Kane is the man everyone loves to hate.

Forced to return to his hometown while on parole, Jordan soon learns that this small town hasn't changed since he was carted off to juvie all those years ago. He is the local pariah, shunned by everyone, including his own parents. But their hatred of him doesn't even come close to the loathing he feels every time he looks in the mirror.

Working odd jobs for the preacher lady, Jordan bides his time before he can leave this backwards town. But can distance erase the memories that haunt him? Trapped in the prison of his own mind Jordan wonders if the pain of living will ever subside?

Torrey Delaney is new in town and certainly doesn't behave in a way the locals believe a preacher’s daughter should. Her reputation for casual hook-ups and meaningless sex is the talk of the town. Add that to her budding friendship with the hardened ex-con handyman, and the good Reverend is less than thrilled with her estranged daughter’s path.

As friendship forms, is it possible for two damaged people who are afraid to love take their relationship to the next level? Can Torrey live with Jordan’s demons, and can Jordan break through Torrey's walls? With the disapproval of a small town weighing heavily on them, will they find their place in the world? Can they struggle against the odds, or will their world be viciously shattered?

Is love a life sentence?

My Review 

This was an interesting NA story with a unique storyline. It is my first book bu Jane Harvey-Berrick and I enjoyed a lot of things about it but there were also some things which bothered me and made this a 3.5 star read for me.
I was drawn to this book because of the unusual premise - a love story between a young man, ex-con and a wild, sexually liberated preacher's daughter and all this set a small, close-minded town in Texas.

The plot was intriguing but it was the hero, Jordan, who won my heart in this book. He was a great character, broken by his past, barely surviving his present, not really believing in the future, just counting the days till he can start a new life in a different place. I deduced what was his crime/tragedy early on but this didn't bother me. 

The book portrays Jordan's journey from despair and self-hatred towards optimism and self-confidence. His change was truly remarkable and all it happened because of one person, Torrey - the wild, adventurous foul-mouthed, but ultimately caring and compassionate daughter of the local preacher-woman. Despite being almost 24 years-old, in many respects Jordan was still 16 years-old (the age when he went to prison). He had missed so many things for his 8 years in prison. He was trying to act like a grown man, but failing because everybody had given up on him. Even the preacher was hypocritical in her attempts to help him. It was only Torrey who treated him like a normal 24 year-old man. She saw the real person and not the guy the whole town loved to hate.

Jordan was vulnerable, shy, he acted a like a typical teenager- lost without sense of purpose or direction in life. He was shy and embarrassed in his early interactions with Torrey and I found this endearing. Though, attracted to one another, they started as friends and gradually built a trust and confidence between they which allowed for true feelings to develop between them.

Through his relationship with Torrey Jordan gradually lets go of his guilt and returns to life. She gave him the most important thing - hope, the promise of a future (together, of course).

Unlike Jordan, I had difficulty relating to Torrey. I found her casual attitude toward sex and her crude language really off-putting. I liked everything she did for Jordan and how she acted towards him but still she was not my favourite character. She had a difficult relationship with her parents and their divorce was to blame for her reluctance to long-term commitment, but it was not convincing enough for me. Still, I did like how she was honest about the burden of Jordan's past. She had no illusions that things will be easy and that everything broken in their lives can be magically restored with the power of their love. Yet, she loved him enough to accept all that and to stand by him. 

Another thing that bothered me in this story was the total hatred of Jordan's parents and most of the people in the city towards him. I understand that they blamed him for the accident which took his brother's life but the complete hatred was unjustified and I felt it was too much. Especially on the part of his mother! I can't imagine that there was not even a bit of compassion for his suffering.

I very much liked everything about Torrey and Jordan's relationship. It felt realistic, there was no glossing over of the problems they faced. The author completed the story in the best possible way, fitting perfectly the Torrey and Jordan's story. The ending was just right -  sweet and romantic, full of hope and potential.

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