“Castles in the Sand” by Annie Daylon

castles in the sandThirty-eight year old Justin Wentworth loses everything when his entitled lifestyle slams into a collapsing economy. Alcoholic, homeless, and living on Vancouver streets, he has one desire: to regain the love and trust of his wife, Sarah, and his little boy, Bobby. Help arrives when twenty-something Steve Jameson, a graduate student researching the homeless, rescues the mugged Justin from a Dumpster and offers food and shelter in return for Justin’s story. 

As Justin divulges the tragic details of his life’s downward spiral, he develops trust for his Good Samaritan. However, he soon discovers that all is not what it seems with Steve. Can Justin persist on his path back to his family, or are darker forces at work against him?

This is the first book I’ve ever read from Annie Daylon.  I won this book in a contest, but that won’t sway my review whatsoever.

The Review:

This book switches a lot between the past and the present.  So it keeps you on your toes, but the flow is perfect, so you don’t get confused. It’s quite obvious what age/stage in life he is in during those moments.

Annie Daylon did an exceptional job of helping us understand the way Justin was, the way he could’ve been and they way things really are. The writing was fast paced, precise and just…chipper to an extent, even though the content wasn’t always that way.   There was no lull in her writing, no blah moments.  She just told his story. No embellishments or too much explanation…just…perfect. You were there with Justin in every single moment and I mean RIGHT there. Heart, soul, emotions, everything. She made his life, your life. By doing so, you learn things about yourself you never considered.

The book starts off with Justin, homeless and cold, trying to sleep, imagining he’s with his wife Sarah and son Bobby. His thoughts are interrupted.

“Hey, you! What do you think you’re doing?”

My body jumps and my eyes pop open. Some guy in a puffy, white jacket hovers over me. A marshmallow. A goddam talking marshmallow. My heart pounds. The watch. Do I still have it? I grab for my wrist. Yes. Still there. Relief gushes, and I yank at my sleeve until the watch is hidden. It’s safe, my gift from Sarah, safe. My heart rate slows, but not much; the marshmallow lingers.

BAHAHAHA!! Talking marshmallow!!

As the book goes on, we find the true significance of that watch and another item he holds dear. A castle figurine.  Not long after his encounter with the marshmallow, aka Steve, Justin is attacked and Steve comes to his rescue. He offers to take Justin to his home, in return for his life story and how he came to be homeless.

Justin tells Steve, “I guess it all goes back to the funeral.”

From that point on, we go through Justin’s life. When he was getting ready for college, his parents, meeting Sarah, marrying Sarah, having a son, making his fortune and losing everything. You go through his struggles, his underlying issue that put everything into motion and his fight to get his life back.

You also find out what Steve’s ulterior motive is. When Justin begins having flashbacks of his attack, he starts to suspect Steve isn’t all he’s pretending to be. Is he really trying to help Justin? Or is he trying to make sure Justin never finds his way out of the gutter?

 Suddenly, laughter rumbles and my focus shifts. Time to listen. Just listen. I hear voices, two voices. I know those voices. The thugs who beat me and tossed me. Wait a minute. There are three voices now. Who’s the third? The one saying, “Thanks guys. Where is he? In the dumpster? You got to be kidding me! You were only supposed to scare him, not kill him!”

I jump up, wide awake. Steve’s voice. That was Steve’s voice. Jesus Christ! That was Steve’s voice. I’m shaking now, grand mal tremors and my whole body is raining sweat.

…..

“Only a dream, only a dream,” I mutter.  Must be imagining things, Wentworth. Why would Steve want thugs to scare me?

I have to be completely honest and admit, I didn’t think I’d really like this book. I am a hardcore romance book fan. I tend to avoid books like this. Maybe because I find fantasy easier to read about.  Most romance books you are pretty much(not always, but usually) guaranteed a Happily Ever After.  But this one, you don’t know for sure how it will end until it does. But I wouldn’t trade this book or experience for the world. It had some funny moments, some sad moments and some happy moments, but most of all, it had reality.  It made me look at myself and the way I view things. It made me appreciate what I have and acknowledge what I’ve lost.

This book was exceptional the whole way through.  I literally could not and DID NOT put it down from start to finish…and the very last word in the story…oh my goodness….the power that one single word held. I tear up just thinking about it. Probably because that is the word that I would want to hear the most if I had to go through what Justin does.  A simple word with the power to take my heart, squeeze it, pull all my emotions out with it, then put it back filled with love and hope that even at a person’s lowest, there is always that light if you look for it.

I wish I could explain to you how wonderful this book is. All I can say is, take a chance on this book. Even if you don’t think you’ll like it, take that chance. Take that chance for yourself. ♥

~Robin


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