Heart on a Tightrope
A Review of Revive (Sarah Browne Series Book 2)
I'm up on the tight rope One side's hate and one is hope But the top-hat on my head is all you see
- Leon Russel, “Tight Rope”
In my review of Flickering Heart, the first book in Tricia LaRochelle’s Sarah Browne series, I praised the way the author dealt with how our troubled thoughts and feelings defeat our best impulses. In that story, both Sarah and Scott struggle to become vulnerable to each other and seal their love. In the sequel, Revive, this is true ten times over, and it makes for a gripping tale.
The powerful ending of the first book left Sarah traumatized even more deeply than she was when the story opened. Scott, too, shared in the tragic events and carries his own wounds. In the aftermath, as the second book opens, they each struggle to allow the other into their heart but can’t, thereby denying themselves the very thing they need most: the solace of mutual care.
Reading their almost tragic story is like watching two tight rope walkers over a deep canyon gorge, fighting against buffeting winds to maintain balance.
As if it weren’t enough to follow the characters as they deal with past pain, a new menace arises in this book that threatens to cut the rope itself out from under their feet. A young woman named Carrie, a student at the university before Sarah arrived, has been missing for a year, and Sarah takes up the task of learning her fate. She does what she can to heal herself: starting therapy at a clinic called Revive, taking self-defense classes – but the case of the missing woman slowly takes her over, leading her into increasingly risky situations. The romance aspects of the book intermingle with elements of murder mystery and psychological thriller as Sarah goes deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of madness that led to Carrie’s fate. As the story reaches its climax, Sarah finds herself entangled in the same web of deception and danger, and must rely on an inner strength, and her beloved Scott, to escape.
One of the most powerful – if saddest – aspects of LaRochelle’s novels is the way she depicts in painful detail how past trauma has distorted Sarah’s view of herself and the world. Between the troubles of the first book and those of the second, Sarah has become alienated from her own life, loves and emotions, even her own body. Of those terrible events she ruminates and stews, thinking “My body didn’t feel like mine anymore.” and, “I’m ruined, Scott. Just leave me alone and find someone else.” Even though Sarah takes positive steps to face her demons and dissipate them, the author does not shrink from giving the reader a first-hand, troubling account of what psychic suffering does to one’s sense of self. Anyone who has fought against a damning internal monologue will instantly recognize how it can lead to tragedy.
But Revive is, after all, a romance story and in the end, though by the skin of their teeth, Sarah and Scott survive and are reunited in the blessings of their love. All is not joy in their world, mind you: Sarah’s healing is just beginning, and Scott has deep issues with his violent temper and anger at his father to deal with before he can truly help Sarah feel safe. As this part of their tale ends, we get the sense that they will face much more trouble, from the outside world and within their own hearts. But for now, we can breathe more easily as we watch them both reach the far side of the gorge, step off the tight rope and onto solid ground.
Oh and by the way: My novel, Where You Will Die, is also available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.
Praised by Kirkus Reviews as "This philosophical mystery will captivate readers thanks to a winning cast and setting." It currently enjoys a 4.5 star rating on both Amazon and GoodReads