Holy WOW. 5+ Stars | 2022 Favorite | Dark Romance with a Life-Affirming Twist
How do I even begin? Still Beating is absolutely gobsmackingly STUNNING. I adored this novel. From the very first chapter to the very last sentence. The writing is so stellar, the story itself crafted perfectly, and the characters wrap you up in the trauma, the disaster, and the love. One of my absolute favorite novels I’ve ever read, and an absolute top-notch recommendation for 2022.
Cora and Dean don’t like each other, or do they? After 15 years of chaos, verbal sparring, practical jokes, and almost overt hatred towards each other, Cora’s sister Mandy and Dean are preparing to get married. The night the story begins everyone is celebrating Mandy’s birthday and Dean and Cora are sparring – every bit of their interaction made butterflies dance in my stomach because let’s be real – you can’t fake that kind of chemistry. That being said, everything is on the up and up, they tease each other, and drive each other crazy, but ultimately Dean is marrying Mandy, and Cora is her Maid of Honor. What ends the night of drinking and tension is kidnapping. And from there it is all kinds of dark and crazy.
After Cora finds herself in need of a ride home, she calls the last person she wants to talk to – Dean. He picks her up but in the midst of this is a man who takes notice of both of them and so the basement from hell is unleashed on two people who have spent more than a decade digging at each other to being the only lifeline the other has.
“You don’t feel like my enemy anymore,” I finish. You feel like my lifeline.”
What happens in the basement? What happens after they walk out of that basement? It’s heartbreaking, soul-shredding, deeply disturbing, and completely life-affirming and beautiful. I won’t give away anything more than that. I will say, that I adored this book, I read it in one day and then couldn’t stop thinking about it, talking about it, and obsessing over the beautiful, powerful writing. Jennifer Hartmann is a new-to-me author, but one that I will be adding to my tbr.
“It was only three weeks, but it’s burned into every cell, every vein, every tainted pocket of my soul. Forever. And so is she.”
I highly recommend checking this book out, heed the trigger warnings. This book is on the dark side, I didn’t find it to be dark just to be gratuitous and jarring, the darkness holds a purpose every single step of the way. That being said, there is discussion and depictions of rape, kidnapping (obviously), suicidal topics, PTSD, murder, and so many other things.
Still Beating is epic, beautifully rendered and written, with a lovely purpose and offered hope in the face of the darkness that seems to surround us, so while it was nice to escape into a novel for a day, it also left me holding onto that hope for real life. Stellar, stellar novel.
“It’s still beating. . .”