12 January 2015

Heart Grow Fonder Tour Stop!

Wrong place. Wrong time. Right people.

Jessie Bravo knows what’s wrong with her life; she just doesn’t know what to do about it. Eleven years ago, she saved Tyler Cantrell from getting his ass kicked by gay-bashing high school jocks. Since, they’ve been the closest of friends. Years later, Jessie circled the drain of chronic depression, spiraling out of control, and it was Tyler’s turn to save her. Who knew her best friend would become a Hollywood A-lister? Though Jessie credits Tyler for keeping her together, living in the shadow of her best friend’s celebrity isn’t all it’s cut out to be. It’s up to Jessie to figure out what she has to do to be happy: get better or get lost.

Stardom is on the horizon for British television actor Boyd Kerrington. He’s starring opposite Tyler Cantrell in an American feature film sure to blow his career out the water. For all the years he’s focused on his career, however, he’s settled in his personal life. That is, until he meets Tyler’s best friend, Jessie. Jessie is refreshingly cool, passionate, and compelling…but she’s also complicated. Worse yet, she’s not interested in remaining in the celebrity stratosphere, even for her lifelong friend.
Heart Grow Fonder is a beautifully and sensitively written love story. Jessie suffers from chronic depression and I was impressed by the way that Ms. Rey was able to portray Jessie’s character realistically – keeping her human while showing how her depression affected her life and the lives of those close to her. It seems to me that Ms. Rey has either suffered depression herself or is very close to someone who has as it is the little details about Jessie’s behaviors that demonstrate her intimate knowledge and understanding of the disorder. I have a close relative who suffers from chronic depression and I myself have endured a depressive episode (grief related), so I saw myself and my family member reflected in so many of Jessie’s behaviors (i.e., sitting in front of the television for days, not showering, exhaustion, avoiding people) and her thoughts (knowing that something is wrong with you, even knowing that you are depressed but not caring enough to do something about it). The manner in which I connected to Jessie’s character on a personal level took Heart Grow Fonder from a good read to a great read.

Beyond my personal connection to Jessie, I adored the relationship she had with Tyler. They were more than just friends, they were family to one another and the most important person in each other’s life. It is not an easy bond to forge, but we learn that theirs was forged in blood in high school and they’ve had each other’s back for well over a decade. And understanding the depth of their relationship, I found myself devastated for Tyler when Jessie disappeared and cut off contact with him. While I understood her motives and reasoning, I also understood his pain. I was not surprised by his reaction to her when she initiated contact after months of radio silence and I was glad that he made her aware of just how much her actions hurt him.

Equally as fascinating was her relationship with Boyd. Both were kind of star struck by the other (for different reasons) and this made their initial interactions quite entertaining. I liked that Boyd was drawn to her and got to know Jessie when he “babysat” her for Tyler; this served to deepen their relationship rather than the author going for an insta-love connection. Yes, Boyd was “taken” with her when he first saw her, but he didn’t pretend it was love at first sight. He did acknowledge that he needed her to be part of his life and set out to befriend her with the hope for more eventually but I don’t consider that an unrealistic reaction – an instant connection is not the same as insta-love. Because of this, I was almost as devastated for him as I was for Tyler when Jessie took off. I liked that he emailed her daily even when she didn’t respond, thus giving Jessie a chance to get to know Boyd the person, not Boyd the actor and fall for him. And while Jessie’s depression and his ever increasing fame meant that any chance of a relationship was going to be a hard fought battle on his part, I loved the ultimate resolution that Ms. Rey gave them.

Even when the subject matter is difficult to read, I find books like this – ones in which I am able to relate to the main character on a personal level – to be even more powerful of a read. Typically a book receives a 5-star rating from me when I loved the story so much that I can easily see myself reading it again; however, there are a few cases where a book affects me so deeply that it gets a 5-star rating even if I know it’s unlikely that I will read it again. Heart Grow Fonder falls into this latter category. I may never read it again but I will certainly be reading more of Ms. Rey’s work.
It was… to meet you.  
“What was that?” Tyler said in a hoarse whisper.
Wide-eyed, his face shimmered as if he’d been doused with glitter under a blinding white spotlight. Dumbstruck, Jessie remained staring into the gaping hole of the universe where Boyd Kerrington sat only seconds earlier.
“That was…” Jessie struggled to get out even those two words, and she couldn’t think of another to follow them.
That was Boyd Fucking Kerrington. It was Boyd who’d stopped her world spinning on its axis for a suspended series of seconds that, for all she knew, could have lasted a whole year. She’d acted a brat and he’d thought it funny. When she realized she was embarrassing herself in front of Boyd, she stopped dead in her tracks and swallowed her pride, painfully.
Then their eyes met. She’d looked at him dead in the eyes a million times, but those instances had all been through the television. Sure, those eyes were the same—icy blue like a frozen-over lake in the dead of winter—but they weren’t Astor Welles’s eyes this time; they were something altogether new and different. For the first time in weeks, she felt something other than a vacuum of nothingness.
While he looked away, returning to his breakfast, Jessie watched him, for the first time free of the veneer his character. But he avoided her gaze, keeping his attention, instead, on Tyler.
Layers of stage makeup and all the smart hairstyling of Astor Welles peeled away to reveal a real human being with complicated expressions and a wealth of idiosyncrasies. Despite his severe, angular features, Boyd’s manner was approachable, even a little bit sweet. His voice was the same, but the cadence wasn’t. Astor Welles cut through steel with a crisp arrogant timbre as much as with his cheekbones’ daring angles. Boyd Kerrington wasn’t as clipped.
Sensing she was doing nothing to benefit her friend’s morning with him, Jessie excused herself.
“I have some writing to do,” she said, standing and stepping toward the sliding glass door.
Though she expected Boyd would relax a little at her departure, he reared to face her with an unmistakable tinge of remorse. She bit into her lip and reiterated her need to get to work. Boyd nodded shortly, his handsomely sloppy curls lifting in the breeze for a second before settling down again. Tyler said something that sounded like “Good idea,” but that melded with the white noise of Vancouver.
“It was… to meet you.” Red with embarrassment, she tucked into the suite and shuffled into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
With no one watching her, she banged her head against the door. Boyd Kerrington was currently sitting on the balcony of her suite, talking with Tyler over cigarettes and a king’s brunch feast. Rather than join them, Jessie relegated herself to the bed. She curled up beneath the comforter, fully clothed, and stared into the oblivion of her private bathroom.

Cristy Rey is the author of the romantic urban fantasy Incarnate series. Taking Back Sunday, Trail of Dead, and the prequel novelette, Edge of Seventeen, were released in 2014. The third full-length installment, Wolf Parade, will be released in 2015. She also writes and publishes unconventional romantic women’s fiction. Weeping Angels and her second, Heart Grow Fonder are available now.
Cristy lives in Miami, FL where she is a reader and writer most of the time, and a knitter much less of the time than she was six months before she took up writing again. She writes the books that she likes to read. She describes her writing style as riot grrrl Jane Austen sprinkled with a little magic. There’s always a killer soundtrack running in the background of her novels – all you need to do is turn to the playlist to know what’s up.

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