"I knew my marriage was in trouble the night my husband brought home a streetwalker to teach me how to satisfy him."
Once I read that line, I was hooked. Just by that one line, I knew I was going to be on a rough and stormy ride of emotions that would pull me in opposite directions the entire time. And I was right. Those words hit me with such force I swear I could hear and feel what the heroine felt.
It also happens to be the first line in the book.
Lily of the Springs isn't my typical read. I usually read heavy romance books. Occasionally I'll branch out to other genres, but any book I read must keep me enthralled in order for me to keep reading it...making me forget all those steamy love scenes I so very much look forward to. And this book did. I could not put it down! I loved every minute of it and if I could give this book more than 5 stars I would. This is one of those books that captured my heart and will never let go...and I don't want it to. I simply loved it and didn't want it to end. Just thinking about this book brings a bittersweet smile to my face.
Carole Bellacera takes the reader back in time as the story takes place over the course of three decades- the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's. The story starts off in Kentucky and travels through the mid-west as the story unfolds. The story follows Lily as she searches for independence and love- not only from her husband but from herself as well. All the while Carole does an excellent job of describing the settings as the story develops. She pulls the reader back in time. I felt as if I lived through that time period. While there were a few words that I had never heard before, I found her overall choice of words to be right on point.
Lily falls in love with her high school sweetheart and plans to get married. The young couple was very much in love. They agreed to give themselves to each other until one night Lily’s boyfriend didn't want to wait anymore. So he sought out someone else, devastating Lily. After finding out what happened, a heartbroken Lily turned to a childhood friend. It's been years since she's spoken with him…after all, she was not allowed to speak with him. He's the one friend from long ago who she connected with during her childhood years in Kentucky, Jake.
Jake is the stereotypical white trash boy of the town. The kind of bad boy you want your daughter to stay away from. He comes from a bitter family. He's learned from watching the actions of his abusive father. He does what he wants when he wants. It's his way or the highway. When he sees Lily walking down the street, he wants her. Which isn't a problem for him since Lily goes willingly and openly into his arms. One night of passion turns into a secret romantic relationship that grows hot and sexy, until shocking news sets their fate in motion…news that Lily thought Jake would be happy with but clearly wasn't.
What Jake attempted nearly gave me a panic attack. I really believed Jake would have been happy with the news, but he wasn't. In a way I was glad he didn't accept the news with happiness. It would have been too easy....
"You made your bed, now you have to sleep in it," is what Lily's mother told her. And she does, trying to make the best of her marriage to an alcoholic and abusive husband. Jake was abusive on all levels- physically, emotionally and verbally, and Lily took it all. Yet she forgave him many times for his actions. Lily loved Jake and did whatever he needed, being a dutiful wife for many long years. I truly believe Jake loved Lily at times. I think you would too if you read it even though he was abusive. I know it doesn't make sense but you have to read it to understand.
Unfortunately, Lily doesn't get much in return in the form of a loving and caring husband. Instead of flowers and chocolates, she gets fists flying into her head and verbal degradations spewing from Jake's lips. He oftentimes would embarrass her, sometimes in situations with other women who he obviously lusted for. It's not what she thought her marriage would be. She often wondered what marriage would have been like if she married her high school sweetheart instead....
Even though there were years of deceit and abuse, there were good times too for Jake and Lily. I found myself rooting for Jake plenty of times, thinking he'd really changed. There were times when Jake would really impress me. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was a long time coming. Lily finally snapped. She lasted way longer than I would have, but it was different during those times so I understood why she did. I was in a state of shock when I found out what Jake did. I mean...I expected some form of it but I didn't want to accept it. Carole Bellacera kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time so when I found out what Jake did, I was like, oh hell no!
This review could go on and on but I'm going to stop now. There is so much that happens that I don't want to give it away. There were so many turn of events in this book...never a dull moment....I can assure you that!
I feel like this book is somewhat personal to the author....it's just a feeling I have. I could be wrong but I don't think I am. Every once in a while I'll read a book where I get this feeling, like it's reaching out to me, letting me know these are real words form a real person. A fictional story yet underneath the lining is the true life of a real person. I strongly believe there is truth in this story somewhere for the author.
This story does have a happily ever after, in case you're wondering. Yes romantically....and in other ways too. Lily was pushed down so many times but she never gave up. She was fighter, a soldier. She did what she had to do and in the end it paid off for her. Its funny how things come full circle... you get what you deserve in the end. I have always believed in karma and this novel just goes to show that it.
Lily of the Springs is the kind of book I love the most. The one I look for and have the hardest time finding. The kind that really get down in the bones, take root and never let go.
Every once in a while, a song will play that makes me think of a book. This time it was Carrie Underwood's, So Small. I have played that song so many times since reading this book. Perfect.