Book Review: Just Remember to Breathe by Charles Sheehan-Miles and Giveaway

15827731Title: Just Remember to Breathe
Author: Charles Sheehan-Miles
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Cincinnatus Press
Publication Date: August 30th 2012 (ebook), November 12th 2012 (paperback)
Goodreads | Author Website | Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | B&N
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions during a book tour.

Alex Thompson’s life is following the script. A pre-law student at Columbia University, she’s focused on her grades, her life and her future. The last thing she needs is to reconnect with the boy who broke her heart.

Dylan Paris comes home from Afghanistan severely injured and knows that the one thing he cannot do is drag Alex into the mess he’s made of his life.

When Dylan and Alex are assigned to the same work study program and are forced to work side by side, they have to make new ground rules to keep from killing each other.

Only problem is, they keep breaking the rules.

The first rule is to never, ever talk about how they fell in love.

Just Remember to Breathe offers a rollercoaster of emotions with a wide variety of characters that touch the readers’ hearts in their own, unique way. What is so powerful about this book, are the characters – they truly drive it forward. They are not the typical characters you’d expect from a new adult contemporary romance novel, and that’s what makes them all the more intriguing. If you want to be swept away in a book, reading until the wee hours of the morning, then you want to read this book. It won’t dissapoint – in fact, it’ll probably amaze. It certainly left me feeling a myriad of conflicting emotions from anger and rage, to heartbreak and suffering. At some point, I even cried. Books that can cause such powerful emotions in those that read them are definitely worth taking a look at, if you ask me.

Dylan Paris, the male lead character, is nothing if not extraordinary. Raised by a drunk Dad who occassionally physically abused his equally-drunk Mom, his childhood wasn’t exactly a happy one. When his Mom finally did clean up her act, so did Dylan. After getting kicked out because he funked school, he re-enrolled, worked hard, went to live back home, and did so great he was accepted for an exchange program where he met Alex, the love of his life. But feeling guilty over everything that ever went wrong in his life, and feeling unworthy and undeserving for a girl as special and wonderful as Alex, Dylan never told her his real feelings on the last night they spent together – that this wasn’t just some summer fluke, but that he really did love her. They kept on a relationship of shorts (long distance though) for a while, but it never really worked out. When Dylan joined the army, that only made things worse. But when all is said and done, Dylan knows that he lost her for good, and part of that is his fault.

When a bombshell exploded brings Dylan to the hospital as a wounded soldier, he enlists in University, looking to build a life again. Accidently though, it’s the same university Alex is enrolled in, and they also happen to work for the same teacher, an author who wrote his bestselling novel at age twenty-two and has been struggling to write another one ever since. As Dylan is forced to spend time together with his ex-girlfriend, old feelings may resurface, feelings he thought he buried along with his dead comrades.

Alex on the other hand, always seemed out of reach for Dylan. Being the daughter of a wealthy ambassador, all she ever had to worry about were school and grades. Little does he know that all the time, Alex loved Dylan probably just as much as he loved her. The longer they spent apart, the more heartbreak Alex suffers. When one night it gets too much for her, she breaks up with Dylan through Skype. A stupid mistake, she sends him countless emails afterwards – but he never replies to them. He seemingly vanishes off the face of the earth. Alex struggles to go on with her life until suddenly, she sees Dylan at her own university. Forced to work together with the man who broke her heart, Alex fears she might fall for him all over again. But Dylan isn’t the boy she fell in love with anymore. Suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and suffering from an enormous amount of survivor’s guilt, this war-hardened veteran may be even tougher to deal with than he was the first time around.

As you can see, these characters aren’t exactly your generic, typical new adult characters. I especially loved Dylan. I felt bad for everything he’s ever been through. And if the end result is that he sometimes becomes enraged beyond normal proportions, then that’s only fitting for the person he became, due to losing people he loved and feeling guilty for it. A lot of YA and NA books have a ‘bad boy’ male love interest for the female main character. Dylan never seemed like a ‘bad boy’ to me, although he did have some of its streaks: a bit possessive at times, and violent. But the thing was, here I understood his violence. His life wasn’t exactly rose petals and sunshine so far, and it shows in his personality, in his sometimes violent fits, like when someone attacks someone he loves. But he never appeared like ‘bad boy’, quite the opposite in fact, and that was a welcome chance. I thought he was quite romantic, sending Alex dried flowers from Afghanistan and keeping her picture in his locker. He also never seemed to have eye for any other girl – just her. It nearly broke my heart to see how he kept destroying their love over and over again, not because he didn’t want to be with her, but because he wanted to protect her from himself, his past and his present. Severely injured in war, with brain traumas and words sometimes slipping from his mind, filled up with rage ready to explode, Dylan’s main concern is to keep Alex safe. That was so touching it nearly broke my heart.

Just Remember to Breathe is about these characters, their lives and their journey to find each other. It was heart-warming from start to end, a rollercoaster of emotions. They made mistakes, they tried to get passed those, and with everything that went wrong, they tried to pick up the pieces and kept going. I can’t possibly explain to you how touching I thought this book was. Dylan’s journey is extraordinary, and how Alex keeps supporting him through all that is truly amazing. I loved them together as a couple: their interactions and joked showed they really did care for each other, a lot. The writing was superb, the voices very authentic and genuine. This book was written with a lot of love and emotion behind it, and it shows.

Give Just Remember to Breathe a try, especially if you’re a fan of stories that will have you laugh, sob, and cry at the same time.

Giveaway

Author Charles Sheehan-Miles was kind enough to give away a paperback copy to one lucky winner. If you win, you get to enjoy this jewel all for yourself. Yay! Participating is simple: fill in the Rafflecopter form below, and you’re ready to go.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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