Double Header Book Reviews: The Traveling Man/The Traveling Woman by Jane Harvey-Berrick

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Title: The Traveling Man (Traveling #1)
Author: Jane Harvey Berrick @jharveyberrick
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 292 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis

I was ordinary. Nice. He was extraordinary. And he wasn’t always nice.

Moody and difficult, brilliant and beautiful, Kes scared me and he protected me. He could be incredibly hurtful and incredibly thoughtful. He wasn’t perfect, but he was perfect for me. He challenged me, he took me out of my safe little box and showed me the world could be magnificent. He was everything I wasn’t.

Aimee Anderson is ten when the traveling carnival first comes to her nice little town. She doesn’t expect her world to change so completely. But meeting Kestrel Donohue puts her life on a different path.

Even though she only sees him for the two weeks of the year when he passes through her home town, his friendship is the most important of her life. As a child’s friendship grows to adult love, the choices become harder, and both Kes and Aimee realize that two weeks a year will never be enough.

Grace Review

This story takes you on a magical trip of first love and the unbreakable bond despite the circumstances. 

For 10 year old, Aimee, life is never the same after the carnival comes to town.  A bit of a loner, and still discovering herself, she finds comfort in the strange walls of this travelling show. It’s on the day of her birthday that she finally gets her wish and gets a backstage tour, guided by her new friend, Kes.

Kes is like the forbidden fruit.  To begin with, many in Aimee’s town, led by her father, have a true dislike for the carnival and the people who perform in it.  They see these performers as lower class. Aimee’s Dad being a complete dickhead, makes it hard for Aimee to spend time with her new friend.  But that doesn’t seem to stop her.  Over the years, she and Kes develop a friendship, which morphs into an attraction as they grow up.

I was surprised at the risks she would take to be with Kes.  Given that they only had 2 weeks together each year, they truly take chances to make the most of that time.  Their secret relationship which was forbidden in her parents eyes, along with the distance between the two when the show wasn’t in town, added angst to this story of young love.

Kes could sense my resistance was weak – as it always would be when it came to anything he wanted to do – and over the years, it was a weakness that he plundered ruthlessly.

Kes is the ultimate performer.  It was the descriptions of the show and his role within it that really drew me into the story.  The author does a great job of making you feel everything Aimee did.  The joy with Prince Albert, the monkey.  The excitement leading up to every show.  And then the fear of Kes performing his wild stunts.  Her enthusiasm was contagious.

“You’ve been sprinkled with fairy dust, missy.  The carnival is in your blood now.”

While the characters in this story age, in many ways, Kes never truly grows up.  Stunted by intelligence, suffering from a severe form of dyslexia, he relies on others for basic tasks, and goes into a form of tantrum when his intelligence is insulted.  Kes wears his emotions on his sleeve, which had both a good and bad impact on Aimee.  On the good side, although he won’t say the word, you can tell how much he loves Aimee.  On the bad side, his emotional outbursts got to be a bit tiresome and I’m glad Aimee didn’t let him get away with the shit he pulled.

While people tried to keep Aimee and Kes apart, fate gave them a second chance.  But can one give up everything they’ve build over the years, to take a chance on the other?  We are left with a heartbreaking cliffhanger.  Thankfully book two is out now.  My heart needs a HEA.

– Grace

Amazon

Goodreads

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Title: The Traveling Woman (Traveling #2)
Author: Jane Harvey Berrick @jharveyberrick
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 362 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis

THE CONCLUDING STORY of Aimee and Kestrel, begun in THE TRAVELING MAN
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

How many times do you gamble on love? When love has knocked you down, should you give it another chance? When does optimism become stupidity?

And what happens when the man you’re in love with is never still, always moving, always traveling? Do you say goodbye, or do you leave behind everything that you’ve worked for, everything that you’ve ever known? Can a traveling carnival be my home?

Oh. You thought I had the answers. No, sorry. No answers, just a lot of questions—and a heart that wants to rule my head.

Can one person be my home?

Grace Review

Can Aimee and Kes make it work, getting their very different career paths on the same page?  What would they walk away from for love?

In book one, we are left heartbroken as Aimee decides to put her career before love.  It sounds harsh, but given what comes with that love, her options were very limited, so I didn’t hate her for her decision.  What I was surprised about was what Kes did to make things right.  While years and some meddling parents kept them apart before, Kes does the right thing to avoid a repeat of the past.

I could feel in his touch, and his gaze, the way I knew our bodies would lock together again.  I was drunk, drowning, falling, floating – lost and found in a sea of lust and love.

This is the first time Kes is really out of his element, away from the carnie life.  And it is not smooth sailing as he tries to adjust to Aimee’s world.  Two things make it difficult.  First, being the top act in the traveling show, it’s clear that Kes lives for the adrenaline rush.  So what happens when Kes is away from that rush?  While he isn’t happy, he does it out of love for Aimee.  Second, due to Kes’ lack of education and his learning disability, he is more vulnerable when surrounded by Aimee’s fellow teaching staff, making him very volatile.  All it takes is one extra push from Aimee’s ex . . .  Although this problem with Kes is not directly addressed, Aimee does what she can to make things better for her man.

And there it was – the gulf between us.  My man was a traveler, a wanderer.  And me?  I was a homebody at heart.

While Kes did a great thing by chasing down Aimee, it becomes clear that things wouldn’t work for them in her world.  The question becomes, can Aimee survive in Kes’ world long term?

“Teaching is a job.  You are my life.”

Together, the two carve a great path for their future.  I loved how Aimee immersed herself with the traveling bunch, not only finding a way to continue her career, but by solidifying friendships.  The bonds she forms with the group prove their worth when tragedy strikes.  Given the dangerous life as a daredevil, I wasn’t shocked that the tragedy happened, but by how everyone handled it.  My heart broke for everyone as they tried to recover:

– The backlash Aimee suffers as she tried to make things right.
– The guilt Tucker struggles with (I’m excited that he got his own book).
– Kes’ rage and then fight to get his old life back.
– An attempt at forgiveness from a forgotten parent.

Comparing the two books in this series, book one felt more angsty, whereas this book oddly enough, felt lighter.  Maybe it was because for most of it, the couple is together and madly in love.  Their story build slowly over the years.  Although their time apart created heartbreak, it also showed them, that without the other, their lives are not whole.  Through personal sacrifice, forgiveness, and strong friendships to support them, Kes and Aimee find their magical HEA under the stars.

– Grace

Amazon

Goodreads

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