**I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review**
After reading (and loving) the first book in this series, Sempre, I was beyond excited to get my hands on Sempre: Redemption. And I have to say I loved this one almost as much as the first! Although I expected some drama and trouble, I was hoping to get a lot more of Haven and Carmine as a happy couple, and enjoying life a bit after all of the struggles and hardships they faced in the previous book... and that's definitely not what we get for most of this novel. This one had me bawling my eyes out in record time and I had a lump in my throat through almost the entire book. This continuation of Sempre is emotional, heartbreaking, and completely captivating-- such a page-turner for me.
Even though I had hoped for more of a happily ever after-- or even a tiny bit of one--- I loved that we got to see what life was like for Haven and Carmine after Haven gained her "freedom." This book was quite a role-reversal for the two main characters. In the first book, Haven is the one who can't make her own decisions and is forced to live her life a certain way, under other people's control... But now Carmine's life is no longer his own. Carmine makes the tough decision to let Haven go, so that she's free to truly enjoy her newfound freedom and live her life the way she wants. Although he goes about it in the wrong way-- again, taking a decision away from her instead of letting her decide for herself-- the love he shows for her is very heartwarming. He wants her to know true freedom, even if he has to sacrifice his own happiness to do so. We see a very different side of Carmine in this book. He's depressed, self-destructive, but determined to do right by Haven, even if it means he has to suffer.
Haven is such a strong character and one that is very easy to become attached to. She's strong, she's sweet and endearing, and she really steps up to the plate (eventually) and takes control of her life. After what's she's been through, that's incredible. Seeing these two characters attempt to live without each other for a time, struggling to endure their new lives while their heart is with the other-- surviving, but not living-- was heartbreaking.
Redemption-- the perfect word to describe the premise of this novel. We see many characters trying to right their wrongs and make amends. Corrado is a huge part of this story and I loved learning more about his life and what makes him tick. He really surprised me and I definitely grew to love him. In true Darhower fashion, there are tons of twists and turns, lots of surprises, and nail-biting action. I was anxious the entire time I read, waiting for the other shoe to drop-- because you KNOW something's coming, you just don't know when! Sempre: Redemption is a novel about pain, personal growth, heartache, and perseverance, finished perfectly with a lovely epilogue. I absolutely recommend this one!
Carmine sat in his usual chair in the library, casually strumming his guitar. A sliver of light filtered in from the large window, illuminating his somber expression in the darkness. She called his name but he remained still, continuing to pluck at the strings almost as if he hadn’t heard her. She took a step toward him and was about to say his name again when he let out a long, deep sigh. “I had a dream.”
“Another nightmare?” she asked, walking over to him. He glanced up at her as his fingers stilled, the music stopping, but Haven barely noticed. She couldn’t focus on anything but the green eyes boring into her. Once so alive
with passion, she saw nothing but deep sadness marring the bright color.
Carmine set the guitar aside and moved his legs to make room, motioning for her to join him. She climbed into his lap and he wrapped his arms around her.
“Not a nightmare this time,” he said. “It was a good dream.”
“What was it about?”
“You,” he said quietly. “You made a painting—some abstract shit, I don’t know—but it was so good they hung it in a museum and raved about how talented you were. It was like you were the next fucking Picasso, tesoro.”
She laughed. “I don’t even know how to paint, Carmine.”
“You could learn,” he said. “Would you want to?”
“Maybe, but I don’t know how good I’d be.”
“Oh, you’d be good,” he said confidently. “You shouldn’t doubt yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to.”
“Except for play the piano,” she said playfully. “Or the guitar.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, for the sake of everyone’s ears, we ought to leave music to me, but the rest is all you. You can probably do all of that, you know. Draw, paint, sculpt shit into weird shapes and tell people it’s something it doesn’t look anything like. That takes talent.”
She smiled. “And you think I have that kind of talent?”
“Of course,” he said. “There’s gonna be no stopping you once you get started.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, a swell of emotion surging through her at his words. “It means a lot that you believe in
“I’d be an idiot not to,” he said, kissing the top of her head.
JM Darhower is the author of countless stories and poems, most of which only she has ever read. She lives in a tiny town in rural North Carolina, where she churns out more words than will ever see the light of day. She has a deep
passion for politics and speaking out against human trafficking, and when she isn't writing (or fangirling about books) she's usually ranting about those things.
Chronic crimper with a vulgar mouth, she admits to having a Twitter addiction. You can usually always find her there.
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