BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Monday, March 12, 2012

Review of The Calling by Ashley Lynn Willis

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Release Date: October 12, 2011
Buying Links: Amazon     Barnes & Noble   

Book Blurb (from goodreads):

Mandy Hardy lost more than a breast to cancer; she lost her fiancĂ© when he dumped her a week before her mastectomy. Her ego bruised and her self-esteem battered, Mandy’s sure she’ll never fall in love again. 

 Justin Seward is a headstrong Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer with a heart of gold and the supernatural ability to command the seas. He had to hide his feelings while Mandy was engaged to his best friend. Now that she’s free, he’s vowed to make her his. 

  Together, they may hold the key to each other’s salvation. But when Justin’s past catches up with him, and Mandy’s ex-fiancĂ© wants vengeance, they realize they might not live long enough for happily ever after. The Calling is a contemporary romance with a paranormal twist.

He snorted an exasperated sound. "You can't tell me you didn't have a good time today. You were supposed to leave after an hour. It's ten o'clock at night, and you're still here."
"We're friends."
Justin squared his shoulders. "I'm not asking you to marry me. I just want a shot. If you decide you're not interested, fine. But don't shut me down before you even give me a chance." 
Mandy blew out a huge breath. "Lori said this get-together was about more than sunbathing."
"Smart girl," he said flatly.
Reviewed By: Bea

My Thoughts:

The first two-thirds of the book were both a pleasure and a challenge for me to read. It hooked me from the first page; I enjoyed the relationship between Mandy and Justin, and liked seeing it change from friends to lovers. The pacing was good, there was humor and character development. I had a few grumbles, which I'll get to in a bit.

The challenge for me was the breast cancer. It's right there, in the book blurb, it didn't spring out of nowhere, as real breast cancer is wont to do. I underestimated both the part that Mandy's battle with breast cancer plays in the story and my reaction to it. Now, I've never had breast cancer, but it runs in my family. My mother died of it when I was in high school, a maternal cousin is a breast cancer survivor and my stepmother is a breast cancer survivor. So, it's affected my life, strongly. I didn't realize, until I was reading this book, that I tend to steer clear of books, movies, etc about breast cancer. Several times, I came close to DNF'ing the book because I wasn't sure I could get through the story without breaking down. I hung in though and in the last third, approximately, the breast cancer becomes less important and pretty much disappears.

Oddly, it was that emotional, gut-wrenching (for me anyway) first two-thirds that I liked the best. The latter part of the book was over the top, soap opera territory. The first portion was strong, well written, had a few typos, and characters that made me feel. On the one hand, I understood Mandy's reluctance to get involved with Justin while on the other hand, I wanted to shake her and tell her to get over it and move on. Justin at times seemed to perfect, too understanding, too patient, even though he wasn't always. He has his emotional hangups and his own family life was over the top - emotionally distant father, dead baby sister, depressed suicidal mother - talk about a dysfunctional family! At times it felt like too much and yet it helped to ground Justin and explained much about who he was and why he chose his line of work. So, I both liked and disliked that. :D

Mandy discovered after being diagnosed with breast cancer that some people can't cope, some people are only sunny day friends. Sadly, that included her fiance. He took off and in the process, Mandy lost her friendship with Justin, Ty's co-worker and roommate. When he comes back into her life, she has a hard time at first letting him back in. She's scared that the cancer will come back and is thus afraid to let anyone into her life.

Justin is determined, now that's she single and available, to win her love and campaigns hard. I enjoy the interplay between them and seeing both of them at work. I have a great respect now for the people who go out in the ocean and rescue people. In Justin's case, he has an advantage: he's a descendant of Triton, a Greek sea god. He has gifts that help him in the water. I liked that Willis didn't make him a kick-ass, all powerful super-hero. He has some gifts, but his powers and abilities are limited and come with restrictions and obligations. It's one such obligation that takes over the latter part of the book.

Ty, Mandy's former fiance, is jealous that Mandy and Justin are together and tries to win her back. When that fails, he goes the stalker route. This was another area where I felt things were over the top and also predictable. It was easy to see what was going to happen. After a final showdown with Ty, Mandy and Justin are dealing with the fallout and here's where the paranormal aspect really comes into play and where, for me, the story fell apart. I like the concept Willis came up with and I'd like to see more stories about these characters. The world building was adequate, but I still had questions. As Justin and Mandy deal with the paranormal aspect and how it affects their lives, Willis throws up one obstacle after another in what feels like a comedy of errors, minus the comedy.

I own this kindle book.


  1. Thanks for your honest review of this book. I think sometimes authors try to pack too much into one story.

    1. In the latter part, it felt to me like she was trying to see how many obstacles she could throw in their way. It just got to be too much and I was rolling my eyes. I did enjoy the first part of the story; it was a sweet romance.


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