The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley – a contemporary romance with a real edge

 

On one level this is a love story, the sort of romance that is very effective and emotional. On another level it is a surprising story with many twists and turns which asks some serious questions about the nature of life and love. Anna loves Adam, and he loves her, but something has come between them that seems to block their relationship. This novel shows amazing levels of empathy, helped by the main characters each taking a turn to describe their emotions and reactions to the same events. Their voices are well developed, consistent and effective. This is a contemporary reflection on a relationship which has real bite, added to by descriptions of settings and the small domestic details that make it seem real. There are many assumptions and many diversions in this book; it is far from a straightforward romance and all the stronger for it. I was completely drawn into this book and elements of the story remain with me. I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

The book opens with a Prologue which sums up the novel with the line”This is not a typical love story, but it’s our love story. Mine and Adam’s.” Chapter One describes how Anna journeyed with her best friend Nell to a resort to take up what would have been her honeymoon. A break up just before her wedding has left her bewildered and hurt, not yet realising how emotionally hurtful her fiance had been. Despite being at her lowest point, she meets and is instantly attracted to Adam, and he is totally smitten with the young woman he mentally names “Star”. They spend every moment together, but at the end of the holiday they must make a decision, especially as Adam must make a huge sacrifice. At the end of each chapter there is a cliffhanger, as a phone call, a mysterious circumstance or a significant event pushes the narrative to an exciting and sometimes deceptive moment. There is suspense throughout this book, which gets more intense as it heads towards its climax. The small touches make this a vivid relationship, as lapses in behaviour towards each other, lack of communication and disappointments affect how Anna and Adam feel about each other. The setting is convincing as their friends and colleagues are around them to act as sounding boards. 

 

This book confronts the questions of a relationship in a whole new way, posing significant points of the importance of connection in whole new ways. Difficult to predict but consistently plotted and planned, there are elements of fantasy in this book which removes it from the straightforward and predictable. It is enjoyable and challenging, and both Adam and Anna are endearing characters in many ways. I found this a very readable book and was reluctant to put it down until the next question was answered and the next stage negotiated. Amelia Henley has undoubtedly succeeded in creating a flowing story which captures the readers imagination and interest,creating sympathy and an emotional response. I recommend this book for those who enjoy contemporary romance with a real edge.