“Crashing Back Down” By Kristen Hope Mazzola

 photo 1097004_414472552004294_1964363921_o_zps459d7239.jpgMags McManus has just become a war widow in her mid-twenties. Her late husband, Randy, left for the Army right after their wedding. Instead of celebrating his homecoming and living in marital bliss with her soulmate, Mags finds herself living in constant agony. Dealing with the guilt of still living without Randy, are Randy’s best friends and parents.

Rising from the ashes of this tragedy, Mags starts to learn how to love and trust again, finally being able to find happiness. But sometimes things really are too good to be true and again Mags learns how cruel the world can be as she crashes back down.

I was given an ARC of this book by the author, Kristen Hope Mazzola, for an honest review and so I shall deliver.

The Review:

At 24 years old, Mags is already a widow.  Her late husband, Randy, was her college sweetheart and they were inseparable. During a military jump, his parachute failed to open and he was killed instantly when he hit the ground. Mags is completely and utterly devastated. She can’t find her way out of her depression and can’t seem to function.

Walker is Randy’s best friend and was with Randy on the day he died.  He’s been the one who has kept Mags moving, kept her company and been there to cry with her.  He’s become her rock, her crutch and the best friend she can’t imagine her life without.

Walker was my most frequent visitor, pretty much like clockwork. Every Sunday at noon, I expected to see his bright green eyes light up when I opened my door. He was going through his own process of grief and loss. I think he needed the company as much as I did.
Walker Eastman was Randy’s right hand man ever since they pledged their fraternity. He was even overseas with Randy when the military-deemed-accident had happened. There were some faulty cables that snapped when the parachute tried to open. Needless to say, there was no condolence letter good enough from the military to cool my anger and sorrow. All of us came hurtling down to earth that day. Walker was the only one who never said the wrong thing, or pressured me into talking. I welcomed his company warmly, to my surprise. Mostly we just sat, drank coffee and watched TV; simple yet perfect.
When I finally coaxed my eyes to open, I read eleven-thirty on my alarm clock and sighed, looking at all of the pamphlets from all of the different organizations that were supposed to help me with my grief. I rolled my eyes and shoved them out of my mind, allowing myself to ignore them for a little bit longer. Knowing Walker would be showing up sooner than I wanted, I fought through my down comforter to find my phone. Maybe he won’t mind missing one visit. I really was not in the mood for cheering up that morning.
Once my phone was finally in my hand, I fumbled through my contacts, clicking on his name. Before I could even rethink the call, Walker was on the other end declining my suggestion for a rain check. Right as I started to protest, I heard my front door slam shut.
He hung up as he entered my room, his brawny arms carrying a box of donuts and coffee. I couldn’t help but smile, a little relieved Walker was just as stubborn as I was.
I felt like it was the first time I’d truly opened my eyes in weeks and to my horror, I realized how dishevelled I looked, and how messy my room was.. My baby blue carpet was almost entirely hidden under dirty clothes. My makeup lined up on top of the dresser was a huge mess and I hadn’t even made it out of my bed yet. I was wrapped up in the covers with all the pillows thrown on the floor. Randy always made fun of me for being a ‘pillow tosser’ in my sleep. I wasn’t even allowed to have beverages on my nightstand for fear of knocking them off in the middle of the night.
I cringed with shame from the mess and my wretched appearance, “Walker, I’m not even dressed. I’m sure I look like hell!” I shrieked, diving back under my blanket. I was in one of Randy’s old Army shirts, and basketball shorts; makeup still on from the night before, smudged all over my eyes. My dark-brown hair must have looked like a lion’s mane; a tangled mess. I felt it, half-matted to the side of my face.
I could hear Walker’s deep southern drawl through the comforter, “Come on Mags, I’ve seen you at your worst. Trust me, you look like an angel compared to a few months ago.”
The time Walker referred to were our darkest hours that we were just starting to break away from. The few months prior were riddled with sleepless nights and bedridden days; we were both walking dead. During that terrible stint, we spent a lot of time holding onto each other for dear life, like it was the only thing that could keep our world from shattering around us.

As time goes on, Mags begins to heal and she begins having feelings for Walker.  Something she didn’t expect.  She goes through several feelings, guilt, happiness, anger, sadness, etc. and Walker does the same.  But is Walker being completely honest about some things?  He’s always been a player, is Mags just another notch on his belt or could this be something real?  Can Mags even move on from Randy, the love of her life? And is there something that can destroy any chance of happiness for either one?

I was held captive by this story.  The turmoil Walker and Mags each experience at the loss of Randy and then the feelings they begin to have for each other are real.  It’s what a lot of those left behind go through after someone they love dies.

It’s hard to review this, because it would be too easy to give it all away.  Just know this is a great story.  The writing is excellent and the characters are loveable. Walker is someone I’d love to snuggle up to!! RAWR!!

This book has yet to be released.  The release date is set for November 7, 2013.  Be on the look out for it! ♥

~Robin


One thought on ““Crashing Back Down” By Kristen Hope Mazzola

  1. I’ll preface this comment by saying that I do not often read romance novels, however I bought this book for a loved one and when it arrived in the mail my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up reading it all the way through over the course of a weekend.

    That being said, I think Mazzola does a great job painting a picture of what it would be like to lose a loved one at such a young age, and how the healing process is anything simple.

    That being said, I found some of the characters a little hard to believe. At first, I didn’t find the character of Walker to be very believable. It was hard to get behind his 100% character shift from college frat boy man whore to sweet, loveable, would go to the end of the earth for you husband material. However, once I finished the book and learned of Walker’s “secret”, that made his character much more believable looking back. (I won’t say anymore for fear of spoiling)

    Mags on the other hand is believable throughout the entire story. My issue with her comes from her unaddressed alcoholism. If her family and friends are very worried about her and her emotional well being, they probably need to stop encouraging her to consume massive amounts of alcohol every day. Out of the 26 chapters of the novel… Mags drinks more whiskey, wine, tequilla, and beer than most college students drink their entire student career. On more than one occasion Mags wakes up hungover from the night before and the first thing she does is start drinking again. I would have found her support characters to be much more believable if they not only helped Mags through her grief, but also not constantly turned to alcohol as the answer. I would have liked to see this issue addressed, but perhaps that will be a focus in the sequel.

    All in all it was a great debut novel. The story kept me hooked throughout the entire book. There are some typos here and there, but nothing that is distracting. I recommend this book to family and friends and will be supporting Mazzola’s future works.