BLOG REVIEW: Unexpected by Faith Sullivan

September 11, 2001 changed 19y.o. heroine’s driven focus to attend NYU to be a success in the film-making. 
Being the midst of the terrorist attack of New York’s Twin Towers paralyzed her and made her quit college and move back home to Pennsylvania. 
24y.o. bar-owner Hero managed to coax her into going back to New York city to work as a waitress at his bar. 
He was there during the attack too and lost his firefighter best friend.  
They are both trying to cope with the trauma of the attack in their own way. Their attraction is mutual and growing but there’s too much heaviness within them to be in a romantic relationship. 
It doesn’t help that both are trying to fix each other while still reeling from their own undealt-with emotions. When will it take for them to be ready for romance? Or is there too much water under the bridge?

An interesting New Adult story dated more than 10 years ago. The NYC terrorist attack was the catalyst to the main characters current problems.  But it also was the reason they met. Their story showed the hold that attack had on the NYC residents who experienced it.  Hero and heroine both suffered post-traumatically, causing them to shut down in different areas of their lives. They also shared the tendency to not deal with the trauma by not talking about it and running away from it. Hero found hope in his frozen state of depression by taking on the role of heroine’s rescuer.  His goal was to to make her go back to school in NYU and continue where she left off before the attack.  He was going to make her snap out of her doldrums and go back to NYU to pursue her dreams.  Since he couldn’t get his friend back helping heroine get her life back would be a restitution for his loss.

What I liked about heroine was that, as much as she resisted, she was courageous enough to take small risks to face her fears. So she moves back to NYC to try it out and works as a waitress instead of going back to school. Hero, on the other hand, was more fearful & doing some major avoidance of his problems. He didn’t want to talk about it or deal with it. He wanted to play it safe & do what was familiar. The problem was the familiar held too many painful memories of his best friend. He was trapped between wanting to run away from his pain and staying where he was needed. Hero’s vacillating also extended to his attraction to heroine. He’d be hot for heroine then avoid her and be seen flirting with other women.

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Hero didn't sleep with other women since heroine worked for him. He went home with a couple women but couldn't have sex with them. He did it more to make heroine think he was with other women to change whatever hopes she had of their romance.  He promised her parents he wouldn't touch heroine while she was living with him (He and heroine lived in separate living areas above his bar). So he was celibate for at least 4 months.

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Although heroine was willing, he ran away from their romance most times. Heroine didn’t know him enough to call him on it. And she tended to run away from problems.  She did do her own rescuing of Hero & made him go to a therapy group with her.  And this is the essence of their relationship for most of the book: one tries to fix & the other  relents a bit but resists more and vice versa. 

Heroine broke their cycle of rescue & retreat by running away from Hero. The last ¾ of the book was decidedly different than the previous parts. It was as if moving away from their place of trauma set them free to live their life differently. To no longer be crowded by painful memories, fears, and regrets. And it allowed their romance to FINALLY come together. I liked the realism of Hero and heroine struggling from starting over in a new place. They had to figure out their finances & their short-term life plan.  Interestingly, these added stressors made them closer instead of putting more barriers in their relationship. I liked that they didn’t rush things and we see them gradually settle into their relationship over the course of a few months. Their romance was able to survive their major life changes and that’s a good ingredient to their HEA(happy ever after).

Although emotions abounded in the story, I didn’t really feel it. The words told me of the characters’ fears, uncertainties, desires, and frustrations but they didn’t grab my emotions. I would’ve liked to be gripped by the bubbling cauldron of emotions ascribed to Hero and heroine. Unique story and decent romance though.

I moderately recommend this book.

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