Review: Innocence by Suki Fleet.

At eighteen Christopher is restless and longs for something he cannot name. His mother vanished when he was very small and after spending more than ten years travelling on the rivers and canals, drifting between towns and schools, with mostly only his dad and brother, Jay, for company, he is desperate to escape that claustrophobic existence.
When they return to settle in Arlow, a town they haven’t been back to in over a decade, everything changes.

Malachi has given up on love. He lost his heart when he lost his innocence. Now at twenty nine he just exists--getting drunk, fixing cars and playing the music he loves.

When their paths cross one night at a gypsy camp, Christopher thinks he's found what he's been looking for, but Malachi is afraid. He is afraid their love will destroy everything Christopher has ever known. They are both ghosts from one another's past, and if Malachi's secrets are revealed more than just innocence will be lost in their wake.


Suki Fleet does it again. She has written a most wonderful story that is on one hand hard and gritty, and on the other heart warming and romantic. 

Suki first came on to my radar last year with This Is Not a Love Story (actually, that's a lie, the first story I loved of hers was her short for last years MM groups DRitC event, but I didn't make the connection for a little while), so the story that made me sit up and notice was TINALS. It was the book I annoyed my friends about until they read it. I was happy to provide the hankies as long as they read this amazing book...I suspect I'll be doing the same with this story.

Innocence is the perfect title for this book. Christopher is innocent, in so many, many ways - yet by the very nature of his family and lifestyle he is probably labelled as anything but.  I absolutely fell in love with Christopher in this book. He is a hard working young man trying to the best for his brother whilst living with the pain of the past and the uncertainty of the future.

He is my favourite kind of character, not perfect, but perfect for the story. Flawed but brave and trying so hard. Strong and in need of love, oh boy did I yearn for him to find it. I loved the relationship with his brother Jay. I think seeing the dynamics between characters other than the two MC's really helps understand the fullness of the character on the page. I felt as if I knew Christopher, as if I understood him, as if I could feel what he was feeling. the confusion of the past, trying to grow up and never sure if the choices he was making were right. Every single one of us understand that, even if we're not in the same situation as Christopher.

Suki Fleet has this inimitable talent of taking characters and lifestyles that are far from glamorous, ones that are gritty and painful, and making the reader need to keep turning the pages, need to find out more. Her style is so...frank and honest. It draws me in and, as I'm reading, I'm not even wishing for fairy tale castles and princes to the rescue, I'm just wishing for the heroes of the story to get what they want. 

And they are heroes. Malachi...what a confused, guilt ridden persona he is. I adored him. His hesitancy, the way he denied his feelings, denied his own happiness because the past is always lurking in the shadows. Trying not to let emotions win. Trying to be the better man...
Confused, conflicted, trying to deal with his own pain - I felt so much for him, again for the decisions he made, the consequences they caused. 

The knowing that we are all, always, possibly just a decision away from pain. That morbid bit of us that hears the news and thanks the deity's that it wasn't us. That we didn't get on the flight/go to the party/drive in the snow etc. Decisions can be the devil's work, too many times it feels like you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I felt for Malachi - could he have made better choices? Possibly. Had he spent enough time trying to make up those choices? I think so, with all my heart.

I loved that Suki Fleet doesn't shy away from gritty story lines, scenarios that aren't quite so palatable. How many stories are written about travellers? There are romanticised Romany gypsy stories, but not many about the travelling community, often seen here in Britain as the scum of the earth (didds, pikies..sound familiar?) I adore how Suki shows we are all human first and foremost and where or how you live doesn't change that.

I would urge anyone who hasn't read this author to do so...I swear picking up TINALS was the best choices I ever made book-wise. And, because she is so fab, Suki Fleet is dropping by later for an interview and she will be offering up an e-copy of any one of her books. ANY of them. Wow. So pop back later and see what she has to say - in the meantime check out Suki's stuff. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Find out more about Suki and Innocence on Goodreads.

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