Title: Forgetting August
Author: J.L. Berg
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
I received a digital advance reading copy (ARC) of this book (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much, J.L. Berg and Forever (Grand Central Publishing)!
When August Kincaid wakes up from a two-year comatose, he has no traceable memory of his past. He finds himself with no family, no friends and no one to enlighten him on who he actually was before the accident that took away two years of his life. His only lead is a dilapidated photo of a beautiful redhead. However, regaining his memories soon turns out to be a rather Herculean task once August realizes that she wants nothing to do with him.
No one knows August Kincaid better than Everly Adams. She spent many years of her life unconditionally loving August and two more years enduring much pain and humiliation when the love of her life suddenly turned into a possessive, self-absorbed monster. After August’s incident, all Everly wants is to put everything behind her and to finally begin a new life – a normal, safer, easier life. He wants to remember, but she’d rather forget.
Forgetting August is the first installment of a two-part series entitled Lost & Found. I am not going to lie. This novel left me with a bucketful of mixed feelings and second thoughts. Initially, I wanted to give this a solid 4.5 star rating; however, upon further contemplation, I decided to downgrade the rating to 4 stars instead. Either way, mark my words, Forgetting August is an addicting read.
August’s amnesia and the flashbacks: This is my first tango with a novel involving major memory loss. The whole concept of losing a person’s memory after a fatal accident is a story idea that never really interested me as it reminded me of plenty of poorly executed Filipino dramas (I’m sorry, teleseryes and Filipino media).
Thank God the book cover is too stunning to resist. However, I’m glad I gave this book a go!
I had mixed feelings with the manner in which August’s amnesia was portrayed. At times, it was fairly easy to empathize with what he was going through. At times, it was also easy to how feel lost and confused he was. Other times, I wanted to hit him with a baseball bat while repeatedly yelling, “Get a grip, August.”
It was probably because I found his character too fixated on Everly. (I won’t elaborate much on this as I’d rather not give anything significant away.) I mean, I get it. She’s the only person he can readily contact and whatever, but it was getting out of hand. Like I said, get a grip.
Personally, I liked the flashbacks (
even though a lot of them revealed just how f**ked up pre-amnesia August was). Although they were brief and concise, they managed to sufficiently provide a background on the foundation of Everly and August’s relationship. It was nice to see how the two of them fell in love with each other in the first place.
August Kincaid: Basically (and this is a mild spoiler, I swear), August started out as a decent enough guy who genuinely loved Everly. The two of them struggled to gain financial stability as a couple. After some time, August started becoming more and more successful in his endeavors, consequently accumulating quite the fortune. However, he soon became obsessed with wealth and power, which caused him to pay less attention to the woman he loved.
Still, August was too selfish to let her go and to allow anyone else to have her, so he started acting extremely paranoid and possessive of Everly. It even reached a point where he locked her in their bedroom while he headed out to attend events. Anyway. Throughout the story, I struggled to find where I stood with August. I mean, pre-amnesia August and post-amnesia August were so vastly different it hindered me from building a solid opinion. I was at a loss if I should root for him or not. I didn’t know whether I liked his character or not. I still don’t, really.
”Did you eat the meal I left for you? I had it brought in from that restaurant you love. And the wine, it was imported from France.”
”You mean the restaurant I never get to go to anymore?” I asked pointedly.
”Don’t be angry Everly,” he whispered. “You know I can’t stand the thought of you out of this house—unprotected.”
”Protected from what?”
”Shh—just let me love you,” he begged, dipping his hands between my quivering thighs.
I apologize for the language, but what the f**king f**kity f**k was that? How many male love interests with the same personality as Christian Grey and Edward Cullen and Daniel Grigori is this world going to tolerate? That right there is a suitable example of how f**ked up in the head pre-amnesia August was.
It was unsettling to read how he continuously justified his actions using love and fear. It baffled me how Everly remained loyal and determined to fix him, but more than that, it completely perplexed me how she could still love August in spite of him constantly mistreating her.
My fingers reached out, wanting to slowly trace over the curve of her shoulder as I memorized the shape of her pouty pink lips and the slight flush of her cheeks.
How could I forget a life with someone like her? It was as if I’d forgotten something as magnificent as the sun rising over the horizon.
Post-amnesia August is pretty much the antithesis of his pre-amnesia self—he’s sensitive, charming and gives little regard to his wealth. Unlike pre-amnesia August, he values Everly over everyone and everything else. His new demeanor was such a sharp one-eighty degree turn from his asshat self that it left me severely conflicted: Does the new August deserve to be forgiven?
Should Everly give him another chance? Should Everly leave Ryan and run back into August’s arms? I don’t know. And I think that’s exactly what the author was going for – for us to struggle the way Everly was, for us to really feel the severity and difficulty of her predicament. Certainly, reading all the struggles and inner turmoil was a painfully beautiful experience.
Everly Adams: Truthfully, I don’t have much to say about Everly. She was pretty f**ked up in her own way, which is perfectly understandable and justifiable given her dark history. Although I did get slightly irritated with her when she kept making a huge mess of things (especially in the latter part of the novel), I also appreciated how human Everly’s character was.
Somehow, in the midst of all this, I’d become that heroine I despised—the one that always made me flip through pages of a book or roll my eyes in a movie because she just couldn’t get her shit together.
I’d become someone I couldn’t stand.
Other than that, however, I don’t think her presence made enough of an impact in the book. By that I mean she wasn’t as engaging as I wanted her to be. If she was replaced by a different female lead, I probably wouldn’t have minded because I didn’t particularly care about her; instead, I was sympathetic with her plight. Does that make sense? I cared about the situation and the circumstances, but not necessarily the person they were happening to (aka Everly).
That was what scared me most of all. That after everything, there was still a fraction of me somewhere deep down that missed him as much as the rest of me hated him.
Ryan: Ryan was by far the best character in the book. He was easily the character I was able to emotionally connect with the most. I greatly admire his strength and how he carried himself throughout the story. Ryan was the anchor Everly needed to keep herself grounded. It broke my heart to see Ryan being pushed aside for August, and I got all choked up by the amount of unconditional love he has for Everly.
”No, let me finish. It’s these qualities that first made me so appealing to you, I think—my stark contrast to him. I took care of you in a way he never did—never would. But please, make no mistake that if it ever came down to it—“
My fingers moved across his worried face as he struggled to find the words.
”—I would fight for you, Everly. Do what you need to do to heal—to find the closure you need, but please know that I would tear apart heaven and earth if I had to—for you. This is not me backing away.”
Amazing, amazing character relationships: Okay, I know I’ve already said a lot about the three characters – by the way, the supporting characters are just as awesome, even though I didn’t specifically cite them in my review. However, I feel the need to emphasize on the realistic, beautifully crafted relationships among the characters. Seriously, I love each and every one of them! Complex and engaging, yep.
Bucketfuls of legitimate feelings: As I’ve been saying over and over throughout this review, emotionally connecting to this story hardly took any effort. It isn’t solely because of the great characters and fascinating relationship dynamics. Numerous lines and passages in this story really hit close to home and the heart, which definitely added to the book’s appeal. Seriously, my feels were all over the place.
”Everyone’s life is complicated and confusing, Everly. It’s what keeps us breathing and not falling over dead of boredom. It’s the chaos that makes life worth it. Don’t deny what you’re feeling because it’s not simple or easy. Deny something because it doesn’t feel right, not because it’s complicated.”
That ending: I can’t even. The ending was, in my opinion, absolutely fantastic! Although I did not really see it coming, I quickly realized that it was the perfect way to end the first installment. The ending shows a lot of potential and promise for the next book! I am hoping to immediately get my hands on a copy of Remembering Everly because I badly want to know what happens next!
In summary: This was a pretty extensive review. I apologize for all the rambling. I guess it’s because there is an overwhelming amount of emotion behind Berg’s writing style that makes it so effortless to be swept away in the midst of it all. This novel touched me in ways I didn’t anticipate. The only thing that held me back from giving Forgetting August a higher rating is the room for improvement.
There were a number of passages that bothered me because they weren’t really necessary and/or they drew the attention away from what was actually important. Additionally, I wasn’t a massive fan of Everly’s character, as I may have mentioned earlier. Other than that, I enjoyed reading this book very much. This is certainly a romance novel I would highly recommend!
Guest review contributed by That Bookshelf Bitch. Aside from discussing books and sharing her personal insights, Shealea hopes to use her blog as an avenue to celebrate underappreciated and promising authors.
What would you do if you discovered the men you were dating were fictional characters you’d created long ago?
Thirty-five-year-old Catherine Schreiber has shelved love for good. Keeping her ailing bookstore afloat takes all her time, and she’s perfectly fine with that. So when several men ask her out in short order, she’s not sure what to do…especially since something about them seems eerily familiar.
A startling revelation – that these men are fictional characters she’d created and forgotten years ago – forces Cat to reevaluate her world and the people in it. Because these characters are alive. Here. Now. And most definitely in the flesh.
Her best friend, Eliza, a romance novel junkie craving her own Happily Ever After, is thrilled by the possibilities. The power to create Mr. Perfect – who could pass that up? But can a relationship be real if it’s fiction? Caught between fantasy and reality, Cat must decide which – or whom – she wants more.
Blending humor with unusual twists, including a magical manuscript, a computer scientist in shining armor, and even a Regency ball, A Man of Character is a whimsical-yet-thought-provoking romantic comedy that tells a story not only of love, but also of the lengths we’ll go for friendship, self-discovery, and second chances.