Life After Taylah - Bella Jewel
1 STAR

Before starting this review, I need to mention that, on a note in the beginning of the book, the author explains that this story is inspired by a personal experience - the disappearance of someone close to her. I would like to say that it is not my intention to disrespect the author in any way or to show any disregard for her suffering and I would also like to acknowledge her brave decision to approach such personal and devastating experience.


My review only concerns this particular work of fiction - Life After Taylah- in which we meet Avery,a dancer and aspiring ballet teacher, who was just a kid when her mother, Taylah, disappeared without a trace. This tragic event damaged her relationship with her father and her brother.

If you read the blurb you saw that this story involves a forbidden relationship, in this case that means that both MCs are in relationships when they first meet: on one hand, we have Avery that, to please her father, is engaged to Jacob, who is set to take over her father’s business, and then we have Nate,a Motocross racer, who is married and has a young daughter.

One of this story’s major flaws is the character development:
while Avery is presented as someone talented, innocent, vulnerable, hardworking and responsible,Nate’s wife, is the complete opposite:Lena has a drinking problem, is irresponsible, self- centered and a negligent mother.

Like Avery’s fiancé, Jacob, who comes across as cold and ambitious, the MC's wife also doesn’t have any good qualities and in several moments her flaws are emphasized. Lena's behaviour is seen as sole reason for the loveless and broken marriage, IMO, this character's vilification serves as a mechanism whose purpose is to “soften” the infidelity and make it more "acceptable" for the reader.

The story is told in dual POV - Nate’s POV is too short and rushed some times and the pace is also messy, there are also random time-jumps and a few editing issues throughout the book. Other particular aspect about this story is that every character is beautiful - on Avery’s POV, every single time she comes across a new character, we are offered a detailed description of his/her beauty:

"Her name is Dante, and she’s so stunning it’s hard to look at her and not get sore eyes. I’ve always admired her. She’s got this long, blond hair that’s so influenced by the sun that it has at least five different shades, like she’s spent hours at the salon. It’s got darker bits of her natural color, which is somewhat like a light brown, then it’s got a range from honey-blond to white-blond scattered throughout. It’s gorgeous. Her eyes are steely-gray, and against her suntanned skin it just takes your breath away. I envy her; she got hit with the good stick."

Someone I want to hit with a stick is the male MC,Nate who Avery meets at a party at her brother’s house. Nate is, of course, also stunning and famous:

"My mouth drops open as I take him in. Not only is Nate extremely talented, he’s also a favorite amongst women around the world. Girls go to his races just to see him. He’s the rock star of the motocross world."


But he also has a temper and after their first conversation, Avery, has a confrontation with her brother and Nate, the gentleman, offers to give her a ride home, which goes like this:

“Get in the car, or I’ll get out and throw you in,” he orders.

I stiffen and turn, glaring at him. “Don’t tell me what to do.”
“One.”

I gape. “Are you seriously counting at me? I’m not a child.”

“Two.”

“I don’t even know you.”

“Three.”


Well, he managed to make a lasting first impression.

Avery and Nate quickly become friends, result of several convenient circumstances - there are too many coincidences along the way, too many accidental encounters between them - it felt forced. This friendship was rushed and the "deep connection" was too sudden.Also, the presence of his daughter during some of their fortuitous encounters made me a little uncomfortable.

Before I go any further I would like to say that cheating is not something that would deter me to read a book. I have enjoyed many romance novels with cheating before, and my rating has absolutely nothing to do with the cheating per se, however, it is related with the way the author opted to develop the affair between the MCs.

Once their relationship evolves to something more than friendship, it begins a never ending cycle of misunderstandings, immature decisions and overly dramatic arguments that, more often than not, end with them having sex and immediately regretting it.

But, the guilt is not reason enough for them to try to make things right and this is hypocritical on his part: he won’t leave his wife because of his daughter, but they continually disrespect their daughter and his marriage with some very careless actions, not only that, but he also mistreats Avery who, along the way, gets consumed by this toxic relationship and loses any sense of direction, self preservation and self-respect.

Some moments between them are downright degrading,


In one scene they are at a lake and she decides to give him a blow job and this is his reaction:

“You sucked that like a boss,” he rasps.

I burst out laughing, shaking my head from side to side at his comment. “A boss? Really? You felt that was the most appropriate comment at a time like this?”

He chuckles and looks over at me. “Seriously, you just took that shit like a pro. Are you a pro?” He cocks his eyebrow at me.

“No, I’m not a pro. I just . . . I like it.”



On other occasion, after having sex at a party, they get in an argument because, after the last time they saw each other, he went home to his wife and had sex with her, so Avery has an epiphany and finally realizes that she’s the "other woman":


“Shit, Avery – this is the first time since you. (…)

I’m a mistress. I’m the other woman. I’m the one he goes to when he’s feeling down, but he always, always goes home to her first and who the hell am I to judge him for that? She’s his fucking wife. Tears glide down my cheeks as I realize what a fool I’ve been.

“Avery,” he whispers, stretching a hand out. “It wasn’t what you think.”

“Leave, Nate,” I gasp through sobs.

“It’s not . . . She’s my fucking wife – how can you be angry at me for that?”



But she always goes back to him because she can’t live without him:


“I don’t want to breathe without you. I just want you, because I fucking love you. I know how much it burns.”



Like when she goes to him after a race, he fucks her on the side of a truck and then dismisses her, like this:

“Don’t you ever, ever fuckin’ come near me again. Do you hear me, Avery? Leave. Leave me the fuck alone.”





As if this wasn’t bad enough, some gratuitous plot devices are thrown in the middle to create even more drama one of them is a fake cancer, part of the wife's manipulation to keep the MCs apart also, the mystery surrounding her mother’s disappearance gets overshadowed with all this drama and I have to say that while the twist was somewhat believable, the events that followed included a really sensible topic just for the sake of drama suicide attempt - after she learns the truth about her mother’s disappearance she tries to kill herself and is saved by Nate, of course, this was approached in a very superficial way.

Finally, I need to say that while I acknowledge the author’s effort and intent, unfortunately, in my opinion, the story’s meaning got lost in its exaggeration. This book manages to convey many of the elements that I try to avoid in romance: cheap melodrama, cliches, poor character development, lack of depth and a superficial treatment of very serious issues. This was a really difficult, frustrating and exhausting reading experience and my rating and review reflects that.