Today I am sharing my review for Finding Tranquility by Laura Heffernan. I really enjoyed this book and am happy I read it. Read on for my review and there is a giveaway at the bottom of the post.
My Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Women’s Fiction
Age Category: Adult
Type of romance: FF
Jess Cooper lost her husband on 9/11. Just not in the way she thought.
On September 11, 2001, Brett Cooper checks into a flight to go on an interview for a job he doesn’t want, in a city where he doesn’t want to live. All to make his wife happy. He loves her, but he’s not happy in his marriage. Or in his body, really. As boarding begins, Brett panics and gives his ticket away. When his plane strikes the World Trade Center, he realizes that he’s been given a second chance to live the life he always wanted.
Brett disappears into the chaos, hoping to figure out who he’s meant to be. With help from some new friends, Brett begins to transition into Christa. A tragedy sends Christa further north to Canada, where she builds a new life. For fifteen years, everything is peaceful and easy until Jess reappears.
Jess used her husband’s life insurance to go to medical school. When she discovers that she’s actually not a widow, it throws her entire future into question. Making matters more complicated is the discovery that all of the love Jess held for her spouse is alive and well. Christa and Jess must figure out what the future holds for them–if Christa has a future at all, with the reemergence of the missing Canadian woman whose identity Christa “borrowed”.
Can love conquer all, or is it sometimes better to let go?
When I first stumbled upon this book I knew I had to read it. The concept jumped out at me and I was curious about the story. I bought it as soon as I could and started reading it shortly after. Finding Tranquility is a beautiful love story, about changes, love, making mistakes and finding yourself. It deals with some tough topics, but the tone wasn’t overly emotional, it’s more the subject matter itself that was emotional. I really enjoyed reading it and following the characters along.
After a short chapter set in 2019, Finding Tranquility starts in 2001 on the day 9/11. Brett is supposed to fly to Los Angeles for a job interview, but due to a panic attack never boards the plane. When he finds out his plane is one of the planes that crashed into the world trade center he sees this as a sign to start a new life and figure out who he is, or actually who she is as he ends up transitioning into a women. Jess thinks her husband died in the crash and is now a widow. Until years later when in 2019 the two bump into one another.
This book deals with some tough topics, but overall I thought it mostly was a story of hope and finding yourself. And while the subject matter itself can be tough to read about, the way it’s written isn’t as overly emotional as I had expected. Although there were definitely some emotional moments and some scenes that were hard to read.
The book contains 4 parts of the story, the first part is Brett/ Christa’s point of view, then part 2 is Jess’ point of view, both set in 2001. Then part 3 and 4 take place in 2019 and switches between the 2 point of views. I thought this method worked well and I liked how part 2 wasn’t too long as it was so sad to read about her mourning her husband, while as the reader you already know he isn’t dead. And while I understood why Christa made the decision to leave, I also thought it was really unfair to Jess. The dual point of view worked well, but in the later parts I sometimes had to remind myself or double check whose point of view I had at the moment.
I liked seeing these two figure out what to do now after they meet each other again. Jess has to deal with seeing her husband again and realizing he’s been alive all this time and is now a she. She has some emotions to work through as well as some fears that Christa will leave her again. I thought this was realistically written and I liked how it didn’t get dramatized. I also liked how Jess did her best to use the correct pronouns when referring to Christa even while she was still confused at times. It felt realistically and also very respectful.
The book also has some surprises and reveals along the way and directions I hadn’t expected. While the first two parts were more emotional due to the events involved, the later two parts has quite a different tone. It had a more gentle tone with the characters figuring out how to make this new reality work and ofcourse they hit some bumps along the way. It worked really well and I liked how the author told the story.
I liked reading about Jess and Christa, from what we learn of their past it’s clear they were best friends before that turned into more and I liked we got to learn about some of the scenes from their past. It gave me a better feel for their past romance and how that shaped their current romance now. I liked them together and could feel their love for one another even though they still had things to figure out. There were a few time skips and a few parts of their romance that almost seemed missing. There are scenes we have and then in later parts it’s later and it felt like I missed part of their romance progression. I would’ve liked a bit more about seeing Jess deal with how her husband was now her wife and how to deal with that and the emotions that go along with it. That part is there, but I would’ve liked to see it explored a bit more.
I thought the author handled the whole transgender topic well too. She showed part of the transition, while also showing the difficulties Christa dealt with and also how people sometimes don’t understand this and react with aggression, which was sad to read about. Seeing people who she had known when she was still Brett react to the change also was interesting and I liked how we get a range of different reactions. I would’ve liked to see a bit more of how Ethan reacted though as that seemed a bit limited, like we only saw what he thought when he had time to deal with it already.
One thing that didn’t work for me was the ending, it felt very abrupt and as there was no epilogue, we also didn’t get that satisfying ending where we see them together and get a glimpse of the life they’re building. There were some nice twists at the end and I just wanted a bit more time to have those events sink in and have a nice epilogue to wrap up their story.
To summarize: I really enjoyed reading this book. It was a beautiful story about love, change, hope and finding yourself. It deals with some difficult topics and some parts made me almost cry, but the writing style wasn’t overly emotional which I liked. There also is very little drama in this book, which worked for me. There are four different parts of which the first two take place in 2001, the first part is Brett/ Christa’s point of view only, part 2 is Jess only and the later two parts are dual pov and take place in 2019. I liked the romance and seeing how these characters dealt with encountering each other again after all that time. It was well done and I liked seeing how their relationship developed, although it did feel like we missed a few pieces of their romance development. I thought the author handled the transgender topic well, showing part of the progress and also the struggles transgender people deal with. I thought the book did end rather abruptly, I would’ve liked a bit more time to have the last events sink in and I would’ve loved an epilogue to have a glimpse of what their future looks like. All in all I thought this was a great story and I am really happy I read it.
I am running a giveaway for 2 e-copies of this book. Books will be gifted through Smashwords, where you can download the book in either epub or mobi file.
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