Start With Me (2020)

About the Book

BookStart With Me

Author: Kara Isaac

Release Date: June 29, 2020

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Lit

Lacey O’Connor is finally a sure thing for the promotion she’s spent ten years working for. But when a scandal rocks her firm she finds herself on a collision course with the one person she has spent five years trying to forget. Only to discover he doesn’t even remember her.

Victor Carlisle has spent the last three years trying to convince his family he’s no longer the playboy alcoholic who tore their life apart. When a company merger is announced with a US sister firm, he’s presented with the perfect opportunity to prove he’s changed. Only to find himself falling for his competition and the one woman his family will never accept.

As the competition intensifies the choice looms between the professional and the personal. Can they find a way beyond their past decisions and present aspirations to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

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My Thoughts

Whoa! What a fantastic read!!! Start With Me by Kara Isaac is real and raw and heavy. But it’s also hilarious and hopeful and SO romantic. What I appreciate the most about this book is its realism. Lacey and Victor are excellent characters — characters who could be our next-door neighbors. They are sinners, they make mistakes, they have goals and dreams, they have regrets and griefs and sorrows. They work hard to do their best, but their best seems to always be a bit lacking. Lacey and Victor struggle with God and the world and what feels right and what looks wrong, and how to maneuver through it all. They are excellent representations of real humans living in a severely broken world. I felt like I could relate to both Lacey and Victor because like them I have regrets, I have struggles, I have doubts, I have worries, I have desires, and I’m trying so hard to figure out how to be me the woman God wants me to be. How outstanding that Kara Isaac can write a novel that’s so personal and so universal at the same time. Truly, a hallmark of a brilliant storyteller!

Start With Me forces the reader to consider things like personal grudges, judgments, and what it means to actually forgive. We are asked to consider the baggage we carry and why. Both Lacey and Victor carry ginormous suitcase loads of emotional, personal baggage and they have no idea how to fix anything. And, not only do they not know how to fix anything, no matter how hard they try, they don’t know how not to beat themselves up over it all. My heart absolutely broke for Victor especially. Time after time he does everything right, but because of the sins of his past, no one trusts him and everyone is waiting for him to fail again. The whole time I was reading I could feel the characters holding their breath every time Victor walked into a room asking themselves, “How’s he going to be the total screw-up this time?” Everyone said, “We forgive you for the past,” but no one actually does. This got me thinking about some of the people in my life. Have I said the words, “I forgive you,” but not really meant them? Am I just a judgmental, self-righteous girl? I have to say that after some soul searching, I definitely come up lacking. I am a Lacey and Victor no doubt. My suitcase of emotional/personal baggage is popping open at the seams. But if I’m truly honest with myself, I’m also a bit like the characters who say to Victor, “We forgive you,” and then wait for him to fail. This is a devastating thing to learn about myself, but I’m grateful because now I know one more thing I need to work on in order to be that woman God wants me to be!

To me, the true testament of a stellar novel is whether or not readers learn something about themselves and then feel a call to action to make themselves better people. Start With Me by Kara Isaac is an excellent story. The plot is so fast-paced I read this book in one 24-hour period. The characters are exquisite — they are relatable and endearing, and you just can’t help but want to cheer for them! The themes are timely and so, so necessary for readers to wrestle with in today’s world. But what makes this story truly a must-read novel is how interactive it is. This book holds up a mirror to the reader, forces the reader the wrestle with his/her own demons, and then begs readers to reconcile with the past and make changes. Start With Me is a novel I won’t soon forget. I highly, highly recommend this amazing read!

I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, Kara Isaac, via JustRead Publicity in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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