AFTER LOVE LEAVES: THE STORY OF US,
BY MICHELLE ALSTEAD
PUBLICATION: SAME COIN-TWO SIDES; MARCH 16, 2017
About the book: When Brad Sorenson crossed paths with Zoe O’Loughlin at a high school graduation party, the connection was undeniable. He noticed her when no one else did; she inspired him to want more out of life. But it would be years before they’d meet again…and in the most unlikely of places.
Brad was looking for a good time online, not love. But Zoe was so sweet, so kind. Everything about her was perfect—until she fell in love with him. Zoe doesn’t know why Brad left her standing in an airport; he won’t return her calls or texts. With her self-esteem and dreams shattered, she can’t imagine ever loving anyone else. A single phone call changes Brad’s life forever. Now he wants just one thing: to make amends with the only woman that’s ever mattered.
Will his first love give him a second chance or will Zoe turn her back on love for good?
***This is not your typical romance. Real love is complicated and messy. This story is written for those who have loved the wrong person for all the right reasons.
I’m torn about my review for After Love Leaves: The Story of Us. I am a huge Michelle Alstead fan, however, this novel left me a bit torn. The main characters are Brad and Zoe, although there are several other prominent characters including Charlie, Paul, Brad and Zoe’s parents, and Brad’s cousin Kade. Zoe and Charlie were high school friends, but I use the word friends loosely here. Charlie had a huge crush on Paul, Brad met Zoe and immediately was crushing on her. Zoe stayed away from Paul because of Charlie’s crush, yet Charlie told Zoe that Brad was gay to keep her away from him. After years of no or failed relationships, Brad and Zoe reconnect and are in a somewhat happy relationship. But when Zoe receives a job offer requiring her to move, Brad eventually dumps her rather than moving there to be with her and even worse, he does it via text message. When Brad gets shocking and heartbreaking news, he reconnects with Zoe, but not in a romantic, get back together way.
I enjoyed the overall plot and characters of this novel, with the exception of Charlie. She is quite possibly the most selfish, unlikeable character I have ever come across. I loved Zoe’s character except for her lack of self-confidence and the inability to look beyond what/who was available in order to see what/who she deserved out of a relationship. Brad and Zoe’s relationship was supposed to be so special and each other was “the one,” however, it seemed to me that she was the only one in the relationship that made an effort. I loved Paul from the beginning to end, especially towards the end. I’m sorry about the things that happened to Brad, but to steal one of his frequent lines, “he was not good people.”
Although I couldn’t tear myself away from this novel, I wasn’t blown away by the overall story. I respect the love and forgiveness aspects, by Brad never did anything that didn’t directly benefit himself. As much as I tried to love Zoe, I continuously wondered what her life would have been like with more self-confidence and higher standards regarding the men in her life. Charlie was just trash and I wish she wouldn’t have even been a part of the novel. What kept me reading and kept me going was Michelle Alstead’s writing and especially how she doesn’t do “fairy tale stories.” The things she writes are realistic and relatable which attract me to her novels. There are no fancy billionaires and flawless women, but the characters are real people that you could easily have encountered during your life, living in very realistic situations. I was not blown away by Brad and Zoe’s love story but hoped that her love life and overall life became more fulfilling based on the ending of the novel.