Thursday, April 16, 2015

REVIEW - THE TEST by Gregg Bell:

TITLE: The Test
AUTHOR: Gregg Bell
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
RELEASE DATE: February 27, 2015
PUBLISHER: Thriveco Inc.
PAGES: Approx. 247

RATING: 4.5 Stars

It's the last chance for law intern Mary Maloney. Twice she's failed the bar exam and if she fails again, she'll lose her job, her home, and her self-respect. Only love keeps her going, but that too seems to be slipping through her fingers. 

Mary's college sweetheart, Tom Falcone, has always been "the guy." From a strict Italian-Catholic family, Tom is determined to carry on the family tradition of 'one man, one woman, marriage and children.' Mary fits right into that plan. But after a bitter argument, his pride gets in the way, and he breaks up with her, taking off to Thailand to follow his dream to be a professional golfer. 

Alone and lonely, Mary falls under the sway of her high-powered attorney boss. She realizes too late that she's fooling herself—her boss is just a player, and besides, her heart still beats only for Tom. 

Tom follows the beat of his own heart too, dragging him back from Thailand, and hopefully, back into Mary's arms. However, his dream of following the family tradition with Mary may be shattered by the time he returns. 

REVIEWERS NOTE: I received an eCopy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 “Live For Me” Stars!

Quote Spotlight...
“... the first time you love someone it’s a gift, but if you lose that love, the second time, you’ve got to work for it.”

The Review: 
The Test is a wonderful, angsty, emotionally charged, character driven story about life and the choices and mistakes we make. It’s a woeful tale that includes a slow build that never wavers in it’s story building, it’s strength or it’s enjoyment. With every page, I was enticed to carry on, just to get to the beautiful ending. It’s simple and heartfelt and I loved it.

Mary Maloney is twenty-seven and is anything but settled in life. She’s a law intern who seems to be at a stalemate. She’s failed the bar exam for the second time, her short, romantic interlude with her boss is at a close and the reconnection with her wandering ex, the love of her life, isn’t going as smoothly as she’d hoped for.

Between her capricious job, her non-existent social standing and her faltering love life, things seem bleak. Piled on top of all that, a shocking reveal and a bimbo BFF tips things over from bad to worse.

Tom Falcone is a personal fitness trainer who spends all his spare time as an obsessed golfer. Following his compulsion to Thailand, he leaves the woman he is sure is “the one” to chase his dream only to find he might have made a huge mistake. When he returns, he finds things have changed and he may not have a place in the life he once thought of as his future.

Then there’s Jack O’Hern, successful lawyer extraordinaire whose demanding eye creates confusion and uncertainty where Mary is concerned, and could ultimately stand in the way of the future she’s always dreamed of.

Everybody in this story made mistakes that turned the tides of all their futures. And they are left to wade through the mess and struggle to find a place where they belong.

Mary is a VERY indecisive character but she’s also in a tough situation and I felt my heart break for her. Her life is out of control and throughout most of the book, her vulnerability left her open for even more dismay. She’s so concentrated on securing a man in her life, I don’t think she ever truly thinks she can make it on her own. And she really needed to make better choices in the people she surrounded herself with. She was good, kind, reliable, caring and she deserved so much better than the unsupportive relationships she received.

I really enjoyed Mary’s strength though. She wavered in her resolutions but she had some tough decisions to make. It never stopped her from pushing forward though and in the end, she finally understood what was important and where her priorities should lie.

At first, I had a hard time deciding if I liked Tom. He seemed to really care for Mary but he was so closed off and distant, he came across as almost too detached. But I quickly realized this was intentional and his character advanced from removed to conflicted, which really made him more connectable. Tom’s eyes might have strayed during all this conflict but I really liked that his heart never did. He knew, deep down, where his loyalties lay and he was a solid and real character.

I think they all finally realized life may not be easy or go exactly as planned, but if you love hard enough and fight for what you want with acceptance and understanding, things might work out better than you initially planned. And that was a beautiful lesson to watch them learn.

There really wasn’t a strong romance in this story or any passion between the characters but that was okay. They have a lot to wade through to find their happily ever afters and this was the in between parts, the crossroads of their journey.

The Wrap Up: 
I enjoyed the stark reality of this story. The author doesn’t sugar coat the reactions of his characters. They are very much life like in what they feel, think and how they act. Sometimes it’s brutally honest, sometimes is bittersweet but it’s undeniably life at the core.

The Test is a brilliantly written drama with a wonderful, solid story and connectable characters. I enjoyed this read!

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