Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: October 10th, 2017
Synopsis: No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t been seen since. Until now. One year—almost to the day—from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is.
Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, To was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since To died.
And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets—dangerous secrets—about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever.
And maybe there are secrets better left to the dead.
I requested The Breathless because it sounded like a mesmerizing Southern Gothic, and okay, I loved the cover. By the time I was halfway in though, I felt as though I was slogging through quicksand, and I had a difficult time making it through to the end.
First, there’s the characters. None of them were relatable and while they were all grieving the loss of Ro, I wound up feeling guilty because I couldn’t summon up any sympathy for them. Part of the reason why is because Cage and Lance are still obsessively in love with her, which kind of gave me the creeps. And the main character, Mae, I’m sorry to say comes off flat and wooden.
The chapters alternate between characters and tenses which was awkward and interrupted the flow of the story. There are a few brief chapters that the narrators are unnamed and it’s never made clear who they are, although by the end of the book I had my suspicions. For some reason the author also decided to use the present tense for the historical flashbacks and the past tense for the contemporary chapters. I’m sure she was trying to use this as a clever and unique writing style, but it was annoying and off-putting.
Other reviewers have remarked on the implied racism, which I didn’t have a huge problem with, but I can understand why some readers might. Some of the chapters flash back to the 1860s, which let’s face it, wasn’t exactly a bastion of racial equality. But, Tara Goedjen relies on the over-used slaves/voodoo trope instead of actually delving into the mistreatment of slaves. Slavery isn’t even actually mentioned, it’s just implied. And the characters that are set in contemporary times are all white, so there’s very little diversity here.
The setting was wonderful, taking place in the deep South surrounded by woods and kudzu, but there wasn’t any real suspense to the mystery and when the ending came, there were so many plot holes left unfilled that I wound up aggravated and frustrated.
Although The Breathless missed the mark for me, it has received many 4 -5 star reviews on Goodreads, so you may want to give this a try. For me though, there are many other books out there with similar themes, that are written far better, such as Melissa Marr’s Made For You and Martina Boone’s Heirs of Watson Island trilogy.