Book Title: Everything We Left Behind
Author: Kerry Lonsdale
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: Everything We Keep #2
Genres: Women’s Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary
Pub Date: 07/04/17
Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancée, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. She’s married and has a child of her own.
Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.
*If you haven’t read the first book in the series yet then proceed with caution. There will be minor spoilers from EVERYTHING WE KEEP below and I’d hate to ruin anything for you!
Once again, Kerry Lonsdale has created characters that dance off the page and into our hearts, solely for the purpose of making us feel all of the things. I wasn’t quite sure where she was going to take this next book after finishing EVERYTHING WE KEEP last year. Would we continue to follow Aimee and Ian’s story, or would we finally hear from James/Carlos himself on his current state of awareness after rousing from his fugue? I was pleased once I saw we would be getting all the details on the latter; while I loved Aimee and Ian and was rooting for them to end up together, I really wanted to know more behind what happened to James and what caused him to become Carlos. Lonsdale decided to fill us in from various points of view and even included narrative from James/Carlos as both identities. I cannot imagine how challenging it was for her to do this but she pulled it off beautifully and had me fully invested from beginning to end!
The previous book ended with James exiting his fugue state and finding a letter addressed to himself from Carlos stating what had happened, so the present day narrative does continue from this point, but I was impressed that we get to jump back and forth in time as well to things that were in play before James returns to his senses and well after. The format of storytelling here was complex and intriguing; I didn’t have a moment to get bored because I was constantly pressing forward. Where EVERYTHING WE KEEP felt suspenseful and intriguing due to the pending mystery we were trying to solve, EVERYTHING WE LEFT BEHIND had a more steady pace filled with emotion and deeper character development. The two books had a completely different feel yet complimented each other quite nicely. Again, this showed me the exponential growth that Lonsdale has achieved as a writer and has me hooked to see where she takes us next. Speaking of…
At the end of my ARC I was pleased to spy that there will be another book in the series! HAPPY DANCE! Book #3 is slated to be titled EVERYTHING WE GIVE (expected JULY 2018) and after the three (yes three) epilogues from this book I’m interested to see if the Donato matriarch will be a central focus of the book. Just speculations at this point, but I’m eagerly anticipating whatever Lonsdale chooses to write about in the next installment. This is a must read for fans of EVERYTHING WE KEEP and I think will please those readers who were looking for more character depth and raw feeling in the previous novel. Well done and looking forward to getting my paws on EVERYTHING WE GIVE!
*Many thanks to the author for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here.