Review: Return to Me by James Oliver French

What would you do if the man you loved vanished without a trace? Kyle and Todd meet at a party in their freshman year at college. They fall in lust at first sight, then deep in love. In spite of Kyle’s melancholy past, their future together looks bright. Then Kyle disappears, leaving Todd heartbroken and alone, and their dreams in ruins. Fifteen years later, Todd is a successful but lonely psychiatrist. He still hasn’t come to terms with the loss of his first love. When a dangerous amnesiac arrives at the hospital, Todd is forced to confront the past, and is driven to find answers to the questions that have haunted him all these years.

My update on Goodreads when I first finished reading this book was:
"Oh fuck. I don't know if I love this or hate it....I do know I want to bawl my eyes out. Rating may change. Review when I can think straight at BMBR. Someone direct me to some fluffy happiness quick smart."
A couple of weeks down the line...and I still don't know exactly how I feel. Ugh. This book KILLED me. I just can't work out if it was in a good way or not. Bear with me while I try and pull my thoughts into some sort of cohesive review.... The writing style was a big plus for me. it flowed well and there was great characterisation. The author is a natural storyteller and I was caught up in this story , always wanting to solve the mystery and find out what happened to Kyle. He has the knack of pulling the reader into the story and giving just enough information to keep us wanting more. 

 The story is told in two parts. The first part is when Todd and Kyle meet and we see them fall in love. I loved the first section of the book, I was completely caught up in the love story. Then Kyle disappears. Okay, I know this is in the blurb and, yes, I had read the blurb....but I'd read the blurb when the book first came through as a requested read, agreed to read it and then forgot what the story was about. I didn't re-read the blurb when the book came through, I just dove straight into the story. When Kyle disappeared wow - well this was my Goodreads update
"Oh. My. God. There goes my early night..".
Yeah, I was only going to read a little bit.... I was enthralled I couldn't read fast enough and NEEDED to know what happened.

 So why am I dithering about what rating I should give it? I'm going to try and explain...without any spoilers. The mystery deepens, fifteen years later Todd is getting on with his life. He's a respected psychiatrist and has just met someone new who he's developing feelings for - and this is a big move for Todd because he'd never gotten over Kyle. He loved that man with all his heart and for him to just disappear broke him. Then, of course life happens and Todd finds himself in the middle of the mystery all over again. And it's at this point, during the resurfacing of this mystery that I became...not disillusioned...not angry...maybe upset? Purely because I wanted the resolution to go one way and the author wrote it a different way. It's not that Todd didn't get an HEA (or an HFN that the epilogue suggest is going to be an HEA).

It's not that the mystery etc wasn't just wasn't solved the way I wanted it to be. But it's not my story, I'm only along for the ride and James Oliver French is the one in charge of how this story ends. I just wanted it to end differently. My heart ached - it still aches - for Todd. I wanted to take the last quarter of the book and re-write it. A lot of it I'd have kept the same, but one thing I most certainly would have changed. I suppose the conclusion is that my hopes for the character didn't match up with the authors but that doesn't make this a badly written story or me a bad's just the way it is sometimes. For a debut novel, this is amazing.

 Otherwise, there are some English to American phrases that didn't quite translate, mostly I didn't notice as I am English (though when I do notice these things it really BUGS me) but I know some American readers have. I also know that the author is making sure it gets a re-edit before it's published to fix this. And I have to say I LOVE the front cover, I would probably have chosen this book to read on the cover alone if the blurb hadn't drawn me in.

 All in all a good read and one I'd recommend...but gird your loins if you're soft hearted like me!

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

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