It’s Always Been You felt quite different than most, if not all, of Victoria Dahl’s other works. It has such an air of sadness to it. It wasn’t exactly agnsty, but there was a lingering sense of melancholy as I read. Perhaps it was just me, unable to see a way for them to forgive each other and forgive themselves, but I really don’t think so. I don’t expect all of her book books to have hilarious scenes, but there’s usually a sense of fun somewhere, even in relationships with issues. I really missed that aspect of her writing style. I think it would have helped add a little levity to a relationship that at times left me feeling glum and hopeless.
I enjoy second-chance-romances and stories where the characters were childhood lovers or friends, but sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. It’s takes a fine balance to write a believable reason for the characters to have parted, yet still make it seem possible to overcome. I’m left feeling a little lost, even though I enjoyed the book. I’m just not sure I feel satisfied with how it all resolved. I can see that they love each other, especially on Aidan’s part, but a lot of things have happened in the past ten years. At times I felt the driving force in their relationship really was nostalgia, just as Kate occasionally suspected.
Kate never allowed Aidan to see what she had been through and the woman she had become, and Aidan didn’t want to let her know the man he was before he saw her again because he was ashamed and frightened of her reaction. There wasn’t enough truth in their relationship to really satisfy me. All was revealed eventually, but too close to the end for my comfort they were still so angry and hurt that at times they hated each other, even while they were still desperately in love. I was completely convinced of the sentiment and their emotional intensity together, but I needed more time watching them work through their issues. So much time was spent drawing out them coming together, while balancing lies and omissions, that I wanted more of a focus on the resolution.
Dahl did a great job of creating characters and situations that didn’t have any clear cut right or wrong answer. Both of them were wrong at times and could have done things differently, but it’s hard to blame them for any of it. I could see both sides of the story clearly, and I think that’s why I ended up so sad instead of taking a side and being angry. How could Aidan not be angry that she didn’t fight and that she didn’t try to come to him for help? And how could she not be angry that he found it so easy to replace her again and again while she was trapped in misery? Sure, both were fooled and lied to, but that’s cold comfort for ten years worth of hurt and blame.
I had a hard time really sinking into this story. I found the emotion of it moving, but I became frustrated by the lies and wished the characters would have just sat down and talked. There wasn’t enough of that. They were always hiding from each other and it was hard to feel completely sympathetic after a while.
”Goddamn you,” he ground out between clenched teeth. “If I’d known you were alive, I would never have done any of it.”
He expected anger, outrage in response. The calm that came over her body frightened him.
Pale as the white silk wallpaper that glowed behind her, she nodded and dropped the hand from her mouth. “That is something between us then. If I had known I was still alive, I’d have done things differently too.”