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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Essence of Time by Liz Crowe

Format: epub (provided by publisher)
Release Date: June 23, 2012
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook

For years, Rob Frietag has resisted anything resembling a true emotional connection, preferring instead to explore life, and his own desires, without committing to anyone for very long. The reason remains known only to a few, among them Jack Gordon, his college cohort in female conquests, and life-long friend. At thirty-seven, while he is close to achieving his career goal, head chef at a five-star restaurant in Chicago, he is still very much alone.

After an intensely emotional relationship with Suzanne Baxter in Ann Arbor, Blake’s heart is left shattered. Completely broken by what he believes was his one true love, he arrives at a Chicago food and beer festival, prepared to drink his sorrow away. When the two men meet, their lives change forever. But time is of the essence. When Rob acknowledges his true feelings, he will stop at nothing to keep them together, including finding a surrogate mother for the child Blake so desperately wants.

Lila Warren is recovering from a nasty divorce, needs cash and believes carrying their baby will fulfill her in ways marriage never did. None of them could suspect that the connection they share would provide the final emotional key to their life-long puzzle. When Rob’s secret is revealed, time becomes the one luxury they don’t have, setting in motion a chain of events that destroys the fragile illusion of happiness for them, and everyone who loves them.

Essence of Time is officially tied with Paradise Hops as my favorite Liz Crowe book but my favorite book in the Stewart Realty series. It definitely has Liz's signature writing style, emotional turmoil, erotic sex scenes and plenty of time with characters old and new. The thing about the Stewart Realty series is that characters from previous books never completely leave the spotlight. They're all connected somehow and each character is crucial to another's development. I enjoy the connections because that's the way real life is. Not to sound cheesy but we are all connected and one person can affect many people's lives with their choices, good or bad.

I didn't expect to enjoy a story that was not solely centered on Jack Gordon and Sara Thorton so imagine my surprise when I not only enjoyed it, I fell in love with Rob and Blake. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a total sucker for wounded male characters, especially the emotionally wounded kind so when I first started reading the Stewart Realty series, I truly felt like Liz Crowe was writing these men for ME. Silly I know but I just love it when characters have these virtually impossible obstacles to overcome, some of which carry on for years or may not truly be overcome. You never know with Liz Crowe, her books are anything BUT predictable.

Essence of Time, while longer than its predecessors, doesn't drag on with unnecessary information and is still, by my definition, a short but amazing book. It's become extremely difficult for me to talk about these books without giving anything away, and this particular book is the hardest. There is so much going on and some surprising revelations by some of the characters that kept me reading well into the night and crying at the ending in the morning. Essence of Time affected me so much emotionally, I had a difficult time formulating articulate sentences for this review. I kept replaying scenes over and over in my head and reliving the last 80 or so pages.

As bittersweet as the ending was, I couldn't imagine Rob and Blake's relationship going any other way. Nor could I imagine a better companion than Lila. She's a fighter, a survivor and caregiver all in one. Lila's not as much of a hard ass as Sara or as tragic as Suzanne but that doesn't mean she's a push over. She has this quiet, understated will of steel that enables her to continue fighting whatever life throws her way.

I am experiencing a lot of "firsts" with Liz Crowe's books and one big one is that the Stewart Realty series is my first time reading a m/m relationship (mostly due to mental scarring from a previous experience). Rob and Blake's relationship is at times tempestuous but overall romantic, heartwarming & heartbreaking.

There's one thing I want to say to Liz Crowe concerning Essence of Time, bravo on the ending. Seriously, thank you for not taking a cheap way out and turning Blake or Rob into a villain so that the ending would be "easier" for readers. I don't see how this book could have ended any better, so thank you.

The bottom line is that Essence of Time is emotionally gripping, hard to put down and even harder to let go of. My favorite book of the series hands down.

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  1. Great review! I only just discovered Liz Crowe myself and have now devoured all of the Stewart Realty Series, plus Paradise Hops, Lust on Tap and Cheeky Blonde! They are all wonderful in their own way and the way she develops her characters and intertwines their lives is just masterful. She is now one of my favorite authors for sure.

  2. thanks for this---a lovely well-written review.


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