Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Review ~ The Man I Love by Suanne Laqueur

New York author Suanne Laqueur makes her debut with an astonishing novel, The Man I Love: a young man’s emotional journey to reclaim relationships destroyed in the wake of a college shooting incident.

The Man I Love explores themes of love and sexuality, trauma—physical and mental—and its long-lasting effects, the burden of unfinished business and the power of reconciliation. Through Erik’s experience we reflect on what it means to be a man, a son and a leader. A soul mate, a partner and a lover. What it means to live the truth of who you are and what you feel. What it means to fight for what you love.

Erik Fiskare once had the bravery to make a gunman stand down. But now he lacks the courage to confront his own past.

As a college freshman, is drawn to the world of theater but prefers backstage to center stage.  The moment he lays eyes on a beautiful, accomplished dancer named Daisy Bianco, his atoms rearrange themselves and he is drawn into a romance both youthfully passionate and maturely soulful.  It is a love story seemingly without end. But when a disturbed friend brings a gun into the theater, the story is forever changed. Six lives are lost and Daisy is left seriously injured, her professional dreams shattered.

Traumatized by the experience, the lovers spiral into depression and drug use until a shocking act of betrayal destroys their relationship. To survive, Erik must leave school and disconnect from all he loves. He buries his heartbreak and puts the past behind. Or so he believes.

As he moves into adulthood, Erik comes to grips with his role in the shooting, and slowly heals the most wounded parts of his soul. But the unresolved grief for Daisy continues to shape his dreams at night. Once those dreams were haunted by blood and gunfire. Now they are haunted by the refrain of a Gershwin song and a single question: is leaving always the end of loving?

“A gorgeous, riveting novel with a cast of complex and memorable characters. It seduces the reader with its engaging storyline and depth of emotion, and resonates long after the last page is turned.”
—Ellen Harger, author of Strong Enough and The Anonymous Blog of Mrs. Jones

My Thoughts
It’s very rare for me to read a debut novel that has that WOW factor.  You know the one….the one you become completely engrossed in.  The one where you really connect with the characters and feel what they are feeling.  The one that causes you to have a vortex of emotions while reading – happiness, sadness, anger and major frustration - then back to happiness again.  But in this case with The Man I Love, I have been 100% WOWED!   It has been quite a while that a novel completely remained in my thoughts even when I had to step away for a bit.  The characters are real people with real problems and real challenges and I found myself relating to them immediately.  

Ms. Laqueur definitely has the magical touch when it comes to writing and her words come to life within the pages of this amazing book.  This well written novel is a must read that I would recommend to just about anyone who wants to immerse themselves in a truly beautiful story of two people who fate has destined to be together only to face the challenges life throws at them.  Well done Ms. Laqueur…..well done!

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Erik left the wings, leaped off the apron of the stage and ran up the aisle to the lighting booth. Seizing his jacket, he bolted out the lobby doors, out of Mallory Hall and into the icy November night. He ran. Ran for his life. Ran to start his life. Across campus to the south quad, to Daisy’s dorm.
Heart pounding in his heaving chest, he knocked on her door.
It opened.
Daisy stood before him. Sweats and her Lancaster hoodie, her hair down, the makeup scrubbed off her face. Her hand reached out to touch him. Her brimming eyes glowed blue-green. She drew him in, closing the door behind.
The room was dark except for a reading lamp clipped onto one of the beds, and a string of Christmas lights around the window. She slid her arms around his neck. Her head settled on his chest. He put his hand on her head, the other arm across her back, pressed her to him. He exhaled. Thank you, he thought, rubbing his cheek against her hair.
For a long time they held each other.
“I can feel your heart,” she whispered.
“I can feel everything,” he said. A thudding pulse in his ears, the hum and roar of his own blood coursing through his body. Daisy unzipped his jacket and peeled it down his back and off his arms. She put it down on the bed and switched off the reading lamp. They stood together, her hands lightly touching his chest. His fingers traced her eyebrows, pushed her hair behind her ear. He felt himself expanding, swollen with emotion, unfolding for her like a map.
“Have you ever felt this way,” she whispered, beautiful in the Christmas lights.
“Never,” he said, his voice squeezed tight through his throat. He thought about maps, roads taken and untaken. The twists and turns of life, choices and the consequences sending a person in a certain direction. He could have chosen a different school. He could have come to this school but not gone with the tech theater minor. Anything could have thrown him off course. He could have missed her. He might have gone his whole life not knowing who or where she was.
“I don’t think I can explain,” she said slowly, “what this week has been like for me.”
“Dais, I—”
“No, wait,” she said, a finger at his mouth. “Just listen. Let me say this. You have to understand something. I’m such a practical person. To a fault. A lot of people think I’m cold but it’s just… I don’t like drama. I don’t like ooey-gooey sentimental shit. I don’t coo over babies or cry at movies. And I never believed in love at first sight. I don’t write love notes, either. I mean, I don’t bleed my feelings on paper. Especially for someone I just met. But I swear, Erik, I wrote to you tonight and I… I just breathed it. Breathed myself onto the paper. It was so easy and it was like seeing myself for the first time. Who I really am. I should be thinking ‘This isn’t me. This isn’t what I’m about.’ But it is. This is me. I just didn’t know it until I met you.”
Running his hands over her face and hair, Erik could not speak. He had made her become herself. What else could love be? How could he have imagined love was anything but a force which made you your most authentic being?
“God, I love looking at you,” she said, putting her palm on his face. Her thumb ran along his bottom lip and desire smacked him hard in the chest. He closed his eyes, leaned out over the edge of the abyss behind his lids. He opened them, kept them open as he brought his mouth to hers.
“Keep looking at me,” he whispered.
They kissed, staring at each other, breathing each other’s air. Each touch of their mouths was longer, and in between her fingertips grazed his lips. He’d never kissed with his eyes open like this. Never known a girl who made her fingers part of a kiss. He would never want it any other way now. Already he was changed.
Long, magic, elastic stretches of time, holding each other, kissing. He gave her a little of his tongue and her throat let loose a tiny sigh. Then her tongue against his, their kisses blooming like flowers. He took it all in, how she opened her mouth for him, her arms twining up around his neck, her body pressing against his, fitting into his hands.
I want to be inside you, he thought, following the aching, physical concept into another dimension of need. His soul cried out for her. He wanted to be conjoined. His atoms and cells combined with hers. Their perceptions melded so he could see the world through her eyes. How different this was from being fifteen and consumed with desperate, hormonal curiosity. Willing to take it from anyone, just for the sake of getting it. His brain swirled in a mature and masculine revelation as his mouth found her neck, sweet with her sugar-soap scent. He tilted her head back, set his tongue in the hollow of her throat and tasted what was there. Carefully. Selectively. He didn’t want just any experience. He wanted hers.
“Kiss me,” she whispered. The bite of her fingernails was in his skin as he worked his mouth up her neck, over her chin, and then onto and into her mouth again. Finally their eyes closed and they fell into each other, kissing deep, kissing like lovers, sighing, clinging, drowning in each other.
“I want you so much,” he said against her mouth.
“You know I’ve never—”
“I know,” he said. “You said you were waiting for the one.”
“I think I was waiting for you.”
He slid all ten fingers into the hair at the nape of her neck. “What is happening,” he whispered. “I only met you a week ago.”
“Do you feel it’s going too fast?”
“I’m feeling a lot of things. But doubt isn’t one of them.”
“I’m feeling so much. I don’t even have names for what I feel.”
“I know.” He wrapped his arms around her slender body. She fit him. Fit him perfectly.
“I’ve never wanted something so bad, Erik.”
“I’ll wait. Whenever you’re ready, I’ll wait, I don’t care how long.”
She put her hands on his face, her eyes wide and shining, a cluster of Christmas tree twinkles pooled in each iris. “I’m so happy,” she whispered.
He stared down at her, transfixed and transformed. “I love seeing you happy.”
She was all up in him again, her mouth wonderful. She kissed like a dream, kissed him like she was born to. Born to, he mused, lost in her. I would move in her like I was born to.
He pulled her tight against him. Let her feel him hard for her. Let her feel his want while his hands stayed soft and patient on the bare skin of her back. Let her know he couldn’t wait. And yet he would gladly wait. It was all there for the taking. Time was plentiful, a spilling basket of golden minutes and hours. Time was a gift from this girl who had waited for him to find her.

About the Author
Suanne Laqueur graduated from Alfred University with a double major in dance and theater. She taught at SUNY Fredonia, then at the Carol Bierman School of Ballet Arts in Croton-on-Hudson for ten years.

An avid reader, cook and gardener, she has been blogging at www.eatsreadsthinks since 2010. Suanne lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband and two children. The Man I Love is her first novel.

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