BOOK REVIEW ~ POCKETFUL OF SAND BY M. LEIGHTON

BOOK REVIEW ~ POCKETFUL OF SAND BY M. LEIGHTON

“She’s beauty for my ashes. And I’m hope for her heartache.”—Cole Danzer.
I don’t know what makes a great love story. Is it that instant attraction when boy meets girl? The passionate kisses and the fairy-tale ending? Or is it a lifetime of tragedy, paid in advance, for a few stolen moments of pure bliss? The pain and the suffering that, in the end, you can say are worth it for having found the missing piece of your soul?
The answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know what makes a great love story. I only know what makes my love story. I only know that finding Cole when I did, when Emmy and I were running from a nightmare, was the only thing that saved me. That saved us. He was more broken than I was, but somehow we took each other’s shattered pieces and made a whole. If that is what makes a great love story, if that is what makes an epic romance, then mine…ours is the greatest of them all.

“…He was more broken than I was, but somehow we took each other’s shattered pieces and made a whole. If that is what makes a great love story, if that is what makes an epic romance, then mine…ours is the greatest of them all.”
This part of the blurb grabbed me, and I knew then and there I was going to read this book no matter what. Now that I’ve finished I sadly have to say that I didn’t like it much, but you may very well love it so I encourage anyone who was interested before to give it a shot regardless. I have a feeling this is one of those stories that every reader will interpret a little differently.
I’ll break down the plot of this story in non-spoilery terms. The heroine Eden and her young daughter Emmy are running from their past and arrive in a small town to get a fresh start. Eden’s not ready for a relationship of any kind and she has Emmy’s well-being to consider, but despite those concerns, she still finds herself drawn to the reclusive hero Cole. She sees a brokenness in him that mirrors her own. After a tragedy takes the most important person in his life away, Cole bottles up his thoughts and feelings and doesn’t let anyone get close to him. When he meets Eden and Emmy, he’s inexplicably drawn to the pair and with the three of them always crossing paths in this small town, he finds himself opening up to them.
I can see why so many readers think of this book as an emotional powerhouse. Despite my not liking the story overall, I truly felt for these characters and what they went through, especially poor little Emmy. Little kids in romance stories are my kryptonite and my favorite parts of this book involved Emmy. But aside from this, everything else about the book fell short for me. For starters, the romance was very one-dimensional and had zero depth to it. Almost everything that occurs between Eden and Cole is instantaneous. The author adds in romantic rivals for both of them (side characters Jason and Jordan), and coupled with the seriously horrific pasts both are running from, I don’t see a point where they healed from those traumas to get to the romance. They do have a physical relationship, but Cole is adamant about not building an emotional connection with Eden even though she tries to reach out. On the other hand, the ordeal Eden and Emmy have been through was a huge part of their lives – several years in fact – yet the moment she sleeps with Cole her fears, worries, and insecurities all melt away like it never happened before. This so-called ‘connection’ they have felt forced to me, and I have this strange feeling it only happened this way and it’s supposed to be acceptable because Cole’s the hero and Eden’s the heroine. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t read it, but the way this book is written it’s like the whole world is focused only on Cole and Eden: no background, little plot development, and back-to-back chapters keep droning on about ‘how-they’ve-never-felt-this-way-before’ or ‘I’m-so-attracted-to-him/her.’
At this point in the story, I was floundering around the 3 star range as I didn’t outright hate any part of the book – I just wasn’t connecting to the story like I wanted to. I adored Emmy, and all her interactions with Eden and Cole melted my heart. Then the last quarter of the book happened and I was furious with the way things progressed and wrapped up. It all starts when Eden’s past catches up to her out of NOWHEREand then the author just has to use Emmy’s character as a plot device to direct the story down a road that could’ve been entirely avoidable.
Basically what happens is that the story forks into two directions and as the reader, you’re given the choice to which ‘door’ you want to pick. One is the traditional resolved happy ending that’ll make this book a standalone read for you. Another is the atypical ending that’ll make you scratch your head wondering HUH, and leads into a sequel book you’ll need to read if you want a conclusion for Eden and Cole. My problem with all this?
There was NO NEED for the story to end up as a ‘choose-your-ending’ kind of book.
I went into this book expecting romance, which I sadly didn’t feel the romantic connection between the main characters but that’s okay. I liked the story for what it was worth…up until the total curveball with that second ending. It came out of the blue, no hints were dropped in the story beforehand, and even though I finished reading both endings, I’m feeling very unsatisfied. I mean…WHY? Why turn a romance standalone that had a perfectly wonderful ending into a series? While it was unique, it just didn’t fit the story flow.
If the last quarter of the book didn’t go down the road it did, I could see myself giving this book at least 3 stars because overall it was a solid read. With the way things were wrapped up, however, I have to drop my rating to reflect my disappointment because the story could’ve ended as a standalone, yet it’s being dragged into another book. It doesn’t matter that the author wrote two endings to accommodate different readers; the fact is that an unresolved ending is made a possibility, and going into romance books I like my stories to have decisive endings. If you’re going to make it a cliffhanger, make it a cliffhanger. If you’re going to make it a standalone, make it a standalone. Books with this kind of middle ground that try to appeal to all kinds of readers hardly ever work for me and leave me feeling cheated, like it’s the readers who are dictating the story now, not the author. I’m really sorry, but that’s the way I feel and see things as they went down.
Pocketful of Sand is a contemporary romance unrelated to this author’s other books. Depending on the door you choose at the end of the story, this book will either read as a standalone for you, or you will need to pick up the sequel in order to get closure.
P.S. It may be just me, but Emmy didn’t talk like her age. She sounded like a teenager. It didn’t make me love her any less but that discrepancy stood out to me.
Rating: 2 stars!
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