Transcend by Jewel E. Ann

Disclaimers: while my blog post itself does not contain any sexual content, this book does. This is a review for a book that is meant for mature audiences, and therefore is unsuitable for minors.

This book was provided to me for free by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thoughts at a glance: ***** (It was amazing!)

Summary: (as provided by the publisher)

“In another life, she was my forever.”

An unexpected tragedy leaves Professor Nathaniel Hunt a widower alone with a newborn baby.

He hires a nanny. She’s young, but well-qualified, with a simple life, a crazy name obsession, and a boyfriend she met at the grocery store.

Over time, he discovers she knows things about him—things that happened before she was born—like a hidden scar on his head, his favorite pizza, and how he cheated on a high school Spanish test.

She speaks familiar words and shares haunting memories that take him back to over two decades earlier when he lost his best friend in a tragic accident.

“I’m afraid of what’s going to happen when you realize I’m not her.”

Transcend is a sexy, mind-bending journey that uncovers possibilities, challenges beliefs, and begets the age-old question: is there life after death?

Thoughts: WELL!

Let it be said that while Jewel E. Ann is generally classified as a romance writer, she has actually shown herself to be QUITE good at the suspenseful/dramatic/mystery stuff too. I could definitely see it with her Jack & Jill series, and I saw it here too.

Once I started, I couldn't put it down. And no, I can't say that about every single book she's written (and yes, I've read them all). The slow unravel of circumstances surrounding Nate and Swayze's connection is one of the most brutally fascinating things I've read in a while (within the genre). In the hands of another author, this story might come across as overwrought, cheesy, or just plain eyeroll-worthy. JEA pulls you in, keeps it JUST on this side of believable, and you find yourself not wanting to get off this rollercoaster. You find yourself rooting for things (and relationships) that you wouldn't normally root for. 

First of all, the name-play is this book is kind of AWESOME, because I've read many a romance book where I'm like, What in the BLUE hell is this name and who in their right mind would name someone that? If Swayze sounds like a weird name for a heroine, just know that it's intentional. 

Secondly, JEA is absolutely doing what she does best, in writing characters that are beautifully and believably flawed, from Swayze to Nate to Griffin to Swayze's mom... I mean, yeah, Griffin (Swayze's boyfriend) sounds a little too perfect at times, but even he is wonderfully three-dimensional and does not come across as merely the jealous, muscle-headed eye candy that a less-skilled author would probably make him out to be.

Thirdly, the gradual unfolding of Nate's story and his past... I couldn't stop reading until I knew more. And even when I DID know more, there were yet more things that I had to know. At no point did I ever feel like I had everything figured out, and I LOVED that. 

It's a story that is at times funny, at times sexy, and overall utterly gripping, and it's so good that I can probably forgive JEA for leaving us with a cliffhanger and making us wait until April 9th for the second half of the story.