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By Dina Arruda

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Dina Arruda's THE LOVE AWAKENING: LOVE UNCONDITIONAL is an enjoyable and unusual contemporary romance novella with a well-drawn lead character and a first person narration that serves up numerous unexpected twists.

A mother slips from the confines of a toxic marriage into the arms of a former lover. She toys with the idea of abandoning her family and starting anew. Then something happens which reveals things are not quite what they seem.

“I couldn’t understand why I felt like I was reliving something that had already happened, a constant déjà vu I couldn’t comprehend. Sometimes, I felt like I was going crazy.” These are the words of Ali, a woman who, on the surface, has everything: good looks, two bright sons, a successful business. What she doesn’t have is a happy marriage. After 12 years, her husband Matt treats her like “garbage”. They are long out of love. When Andrei, an old flame, contacts her out of the blue it doesn’t take much to persuade herself to go and visit him. Within an afternoon, the fire in their relationship has rekindled and they begin a passionate affair. As she gets ready to leave after spending the night with him doubts begin to rise within her. These are not just the moral misgivings regarding her unfaithfulness but serious questions as to what was happening to her. Why was she acting this way? Why the sense that she was repeating something she couldn’t quite remember? Was she going crazy? As she drives home she is involved in an accident. Struggling to maintain consciousness she begins to wonder what is real. When she wakes from a coma she discovers a very different life to the one she believed she was living.

Dina Arruda’s THE LOVE AWAKENING: LOVE UNCONDITIONAL is a fast paced, contemporary romance which switches things up by using a sudden twist to throw the reader’s expectations. What seems to be a fairly routine romantic tale of a couple’s clandestine reunion fueled by lust, nostalgia and dreams of what might have been suddenly pivots into a very different story. For the most part this novella is told in the first person and Ali’s narration is instantly engaging. Arruda does exceptionally well in conveying the stresses of a woman who is reluctantly about to embark on an affair which she knows to be wrong. There is perhaps a touch of the cliché in some of the writing but this can easily be forgiven as being the thoughts and words of the character herself rather than a failure in the prose. As the story progresses, as well as the sudden change in the direction of the plot, there are some quite jarring changes of voice as the perspective switches to that of two other characters. Though this allows the reader to discover differing points of view of the story, enabling a clearer reading of what is actually happening, the spell that Arruda has cast through her careful first person narration is suddenly diminished. Perhaps a more experienced writer may have been able to structure the required exposition without needing to break away from her more intriguing lead character. This is a short book, perhaps best read in a single sitting where its underlying strangeness can readily take a hold. There are erotic scenes, though not especially explicit, and ripe moments of doubt and passion that the author handles very well. The ending itself may not be too difficult to predict once the story takes its turn but the unusual manner in which Arruda leads her reader there makes the journey worthwhile.

Dina Arruda’s THE LOVE AWAKENING: LOVE UNCONDITIONAL is an enjoyable and unusual contemporary romance novella with a well-drawn lead character and a first person narration that serves up numerous unexpected twists.

~Kent Lane for IndieReader

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