I loved so many aspects of this book it’s hard to know where to start. How about…
An Awesome Premise
“Quirky Cleo Stanton has a problem: she’s falling for the guy she ran over with her car when she should not have been driving.
A devout Christian and quietly mysterious, Grayson Fox is as cute as he is kind, begrudgingly putting up with Cleo and her motor mouth. But will he ever forgive her for crushing his leg? Can she break him out of his shell? And what hilarity will ensue when the flamboyant Cleo tries to draw him out?
“I adored dad, but he was as easy to talk to as a calculus textbook…”
“[To Grayson,] I had to be as welcome as a mafia member with a machine gun…”
“I had really dressed up this time too… Fire engine red scarf over an orange turtleneck and a black lace skirt. My orange and black-striped knee-high socks…hopefully didn’t remind Grayson of an old-fashioned picture book witch.”
“I realized his eyes had lost that wary look. They were the bluest blue. Bluer than my favorite coffee mug. Bluer than the Solonaise County Public Pool when it’s actually been cleaned at the beginning of the summer before all those little kids in their floaties come and pee in it.”
Let me ask you something…
Have you ever made a mistake that had a negative impact on someone else? Try imagining yourself in Cleo’s shoes for a moment…accidentally hitting a pedestrian at a poorly lit intersection after drinking what seemed like a safely-minuscule amount of beer. Really, it shouldn’t have dulled your senses enough for tragedy. And yet…
Imagine how that scenario would make you feel. Just like Humpty Dumpty’s irrevocably shattered shell, two lives have been changed forever.
“I’m usually such a responsible person,” you might think. Or, “I just can’t understand how this happened…” But it did happen. And now all you can do is try to make amends while battling the oppressive guilt and nigh-suffocating depression.
If that description feels a little heavy after all the humorous quotes, then it serves as the perfect lead-in to an aspect of the book I enjoyed most…
Light and dark. Bursts of laughter in the midst of pain. The good and the bad mingled together.
Life isn’t all roses… Nor is it all doom and gloom (even though some days that’s exactly how it feels). I love the way the author intertwines the humor with the point of view character’s depression and guilt. Instead of becoming oppressive, this book—in my opinion—is the perfect mix of emotion and humor.
In short, RJ Conte takes a difficult subject and makes it palatable.
“I never saw you coming… They say your reflexes are bad with even the tiniest bit of alcohol, and I wasn’t all that drunk… You were just there and wham!” I smacked my hands together loudly.
Grayson’s face went green.
I rushed to his side, snatching the little plastic wastebasket from the corner. “Merde… Crap. I’m sorry, Grayson. Look, I should just shut up. I talk too much. It’s like my worst fault.” I laughed loudly without mirth and shoved the trashcan into his hands.
Grayson took the basket forced upon him and simply gawked at me, blinking his eyes rapidly.
I waited and stared at him.
He waited and stared at me.
Finally, he set the trashcan down by the side of his bed. “Um…” He cleared his throat again, still pasty white in the face. “Thank you, Cleo. Like I said, it was an accident.” He backed up as far into his headboard as he could go, as if I was going to reach out and bite him. “I… I completely forgive you.”
I let out my breath in a gasp and sat down in a heap at the foot of his bed again. “Oh, gosh. Thank you! You have no idea what it means to me to hear that.” I ran a hand through my chin-length hair. “Like, I know you didn’t press charges, so I knew you were an utterly awesome, magnifique person!” I kissed my hand at him, feeling the freaking tears appearing at the corners of my eyes anyway. What the heck. I let ‘em come. I didn’t care anymore.
Grayson’s expression hadn’t changed. He still looked like someone about to get bit by a rabid dog. “But you still went to jail. I… I’m sorry. I couldn’t change that…” His hands twitched again.
“What the fo?” I shrieked. “Why are you apologizing for that?” Gulping, I swiped a hand over my watery eyes. “It was nothing…”
Except it had been everything.
In a moment, I had lost my brand-new job as assistant director at the preschool, lost my reputation, and lost any of the last motivation I had for life and the future…
If the author had focused solely on all those heavy emotions, the book could’ve easily become oppressive. Instead, humor and reality intertwine in this charming rom-com.
A Shy Hero and a Bold Heroine
Alright, look, y’all. Romance is all about the growing relationship, and I absolutely loved this book’s dynamics. As I said in my Amazon review, “this story is almost all character—but in a good way! The interactions between Cleo and Grayson had me laughing out loud, smarting empathetic tears, and willing their success.”
But how about a little snippet?
With a sputter, I began to chuckle, and then it picked up speed. I laughed and laughed, unable to stop. Putting my hands on my knees, I let it all out. I could feel my chest bursting, the corset of tight depression around it loosening. For some reason, the guffaws felt a lot like weeping, even though it came out sounding like extreme mirth. I laughed until I thought I might puke.
Grayson clearly wasn’t fooled. He sat up swiftly and patted my back as I stood near, the toes of my red combat boots hidden under his bed. My hands now tightly squeezed his thin white sheets. “Are you okay?” he asked, his voice serious.
I wiped the tears out of my eyes, my body finally stopped spasming, the weary ache of a thousand bricks thudding into my back as I embraced the deep depression I had been fighting for days. “I’m okay,” I whispered.
“No, you’re not.” Grayson’s contradiction sounded soft and sad.
I kept my eyes focused on the sheets. “No, I’m not.”
His hand stilled on my back. I went quiet, finally calm, still bent over at the waist, face down.
Finally, Grayson spoke again. “You… you can come whenever you like. I’ll probably be here another week or two until I can walk and drive again. It’s slow going, so as long as I’m here, if it makes you happy, you can come.”
Oh, how I love this sensitive hero!
If you’re eager for more of my thoughts on this book, be sure to check out my full Amazon review. And for a chance at a paperback copy of “My Fault” (or an ebook) enter the giveaway below:
About the Author
RJ Conte, formerly Rachael Lynn Thomas, has kissed only one boy in her entire life. And she married him, inspiring her to write about sweet or powerful love stories ever since.
She writes a blog on parenting, publishing, painting, and perorating at http://blonderj.wordpress.com/
She also has recently begun a book review and rating website for parents to make informed decisions on what to allow their children to read: rjconte.com/books
RJ Conte writes realistic, issue-driven fiction that explores human nature and the depths of the soul, while pointing readers to their Creator.