The paths of a married couple and a male escort cross in Suanne Laqueur’s fifth novel about the price of love.
“We’re so alike, you and I. It’s no wonder we kept finding each other.”
September 11, 1973: Eleven-year-old Alejandro Penda watches from his apartment window as Santiago, Chile falls to a military coup, destroying his family and his childhood. Arriving alone in America, he’s taken in by the Larks: a prominent family in the town of Guelisten. Though burdened by unresolved grief for his disappeared parents, he becomes fiercely loyal to the Larks, eventually marrying one of their daughters, Valerie.
September 11, 2001: Javier Landes watches from his apartment window as New York City falls to terrorism. As one of Manhattan’s top-paid male escorts, this professional lover has never lacked for company and is loyal only to himself. But in the wake of 9/11, Jav is named guardian for an orphaned nephew in Guelisten and must open his carefully-guarded heart to pain he's long suppressed.
Alex, Valerie and Jav meet first in their twenties, with a sudden attraction each finds strange and compelling. When they meet again in their forties, they discover not only is their bond still strong, but their life experiences are strangely similar. All have been shaped by separate 9/11's, and their unfinished business from the past will change everything they know about love, loyalty and friendship.
"Life has rules. You cannot come in the middle of the night and take what we agreed isn't yours."
Across three decades and two continents, An Exaltation of Larks explores the unpredictability of sexual attraction, how family ties are forged, torn and mended, and how love's downfall can turn to exaltation.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I have no idea how to begin to write this review. Words cannot truly capture the magnitude of beauty in this book, the story, and its characters. And while I shouldn’t be surprised because of the sheer talent of this author, I am absolutely blown away. Just when you think you can no longer feel, you do. To be able to read her work is truly a privilege.
On September 11, 1973 Alejandro (Alex) Penda’s life at the age of 11 is destroyed. Everything he’s known of his native Santiago, Chile is gone and he is forced to move to America. When tragedy strikes again, he is taken in by The Larks. A prominent and well known family. He quickly finds his place with them. But do not be mistaken. His sorrow and heartache is left unsettled and unresolved. This goes on to haunt him for years to come. And you will witness this. Valerie (Val) Lark. The Lark’s daughter, was always his solace. His peace. His safe place. Their love is inevitable. Their life together is nothing short of eventful.
“I will do this and you will give me…Nothing. This does not come at a price.”
Javier (Jav) Pendas is kicked out of his house as a teenager. With no money to his name and a family that has shunned him, he does something he never thought he would. It allows him to put a shield around him. No one can love him. Love only brings despair and pain. Until he meets the one person who threatens the impenetrable wall around his heart. But the timing is just off. And Jav has so much more of his own feelings to explore. As an adult he endures his own September 11th in the year of 2001. And if you’re like me, that date is forever imprinted on your heart. There is a scene that WRECKED me. I felt his grief. I was a puddle on my own couch. It throws his life into a trajectory he never sees coming. A potential chance at love and life is now gone. Forever. Circumstances cause Jav, Alex, And Val’s lives to cross paths over time. Their tragedies bond them in a way they never thought possible. They’re all meant to be in each other’s lives. But with this comes love, betrayal, and torn relationships. Jav always said he destroyed the people he loves. But this? This is different.
“I know you hate the dark. Believe the light is there. Believe it’s going to come back on. As long as you believe, I’m not afraid of this.”
This book is simply the best book I’ve read all year. There I said it. Top read of 2016. Without question or hesitation. The emotional depth of this story is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. You feel things you will question about your own thoughts and beliefs. About love. And life. The author goes there. You begin to believe in the impossible. The resiliency of love and all it entails is challenged. You. Are. Pushed. Overwhelmed. With the power of words. Her words. The writing is riveting, exhilarating, and poetic. The author is a master in her craft. The storylines are written in parallel form and it is flawless. Seamless, even. When the two storylines come together, its magic and brilliance all at once. Her ability to compose and execute such profound and deeply moving storylines is incomparable. With her highly refined and stunning prose, you are held captive as you are weaved through this magnetic and compelling story.
“My heart beats with yours. Wake up to hear my heart one day. This day. Every day.”
Discussing the plot would be a complete disservice to anyone thinking about reading this book. There is no thinking or contemplating. THIS book is why I love reading. Why I spend hours of my life between the pages of a book. Alex, Val, and Jav share a connected that is deeply seated as it is threaded throughout the entire book. The story spans decades, but you never feel the length of this book. You live in the moments. In their moments of grief, happiness, and exhilaration, you live it with them. The love in this story is powerful. Between every single character. It’s the kind that will have your heart beating. Longing. I wept. I loved. I lived. As I write this, I am filled with overwhelming emotions of just how deep this story goes. The love in this book knows no time or circumstance. Their love endures, sustains, heals. Their love is transcending. Absolute. Selfish. Self-less. The characters in this book love to a fault of their own as their love cannot be measured in words or time. It’s boundless and unyielding. Their love is what makes them whole.
“Your whole life means something to me.”
Poignant. Enthralling. Absolutely brilliant. An Exaltation of Larks is a unforgettable read. It’s written with a dignity and grace that only this author can deliver and it will move you to tears. Romantic, sexy, and one of the best reading experiences of my life, this book is everything others should aspire to. If there is a recipe book on how books should make you feel, this is it. Heart wrenching and emotional, this book, its characters, and storyline was nothing less than life changing.
Suanne Laqueur's debut novel The Man I Love and its follow-up, Give Me Your Answer True, won gold medals in the 2015 and 2016 Readers' Favorite Book Awards. Both were finalists in the 2015 and 2016 Kindle Book Awards, and Laqueur was named a gold medal Debut Author with Feathered Quill Book Reviews.
Laqueur graduated from Alfred University with a double major in dance and theater, and taught at the Carol Bierman School of Ballet Arts in Croton-on-Hudson for ten years. An avid reader, cook and gardener, she started her blog EatsReadsThinks in 2010. She lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband and two children.
With her Fish Tales series, Laqueur has gone from choreographing dancers to choreographing words. Her goal is to create a new kind of emotionally-intelligent romance that appeals to all readers, crossing gender, age and genre. Visit her at http://suannelaqueurwrites.com. All feels welcome. And she always has coffee.
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