Cadence Anderson has the perfect definition of happily ever after . . .
Until she doesn’t. A freak earthquake shatters her life as surely as her home, taking away everything she holds dear. She wakes in a hospital to find that her beloved husband and infant daughter have been killed, crushed by the earthquake’s wrath. Disoriented, injured, and alone, Cadence refuses to accept the loss. So when a man claiming to be her guardian angel appears and offers her a chance to go back in time to save her family, she doesn’t need to give it a second thought. She accepts.
Thrust back eleven years, she now faces the ordeal of high school all over again. But this time, she’s armed with all the knowledge of her adult life and the determination to do everything better, from preventing the loss of her best friend to avoiding her original, drama-inducing boyfriends. She’s focused solely on Austin, her future husband, and is content to bide her time until she meets him again.
But then James Gordon crosses her path. Cadence wants to remain single, but James has his sights set. He is determined to win her over, and he’s very hard to resist. As Cadence starts to develop unwanted feelings for him, she realizes he threatens to disrupt everything, changing the future and distracting her from her original goal. Now, Cadence must choose: deny the unpredictable and exciting path James offers her, or stay true to the life she had and is trying desperately to resurrect. Second chances are more complicated than they seem.
Deceptive Cadence combines the soaring emotion of a heartfelt romance with the innovative storytelling of magical realism, crafting a uniquely moving, intricate tale about love and loss that asks: what would you do if given the chance to right all your wrongs?
Every now and then, a book comes across your desk and you just know you’re going to love it from the second you read the blurb. Admittedly, Deceptive Cadence was not that book for me. The premise was intriguing, sure, but it didn’t necessarily grab me immediately based on the concept. But boy oh boy was I wrong about that. This book is, in a word, brilliant.
Hamstead’s latest seems deceptively (yes, pun intended) straight-forward. As the blurb indicates, it’s about a woman who abruptly loses the very definition of “happily ever after” and is then offered a second chance. Now, I know some of you are probably having the reaction I did — okay, how is that different from every other redemption romance? The answer is in the execution.
What seems on the outside like a simple narrative is actually a multi-layered experience akin to biting into a Gobstopper. Just when you think you have it figured out, another flavor appears. Hamstead’s writing sings off the page as she weaves a poignant, resonating tale that is simultaneously heart-warming and heartbreaking.
Cadence’s journey forces her to relive a time that most people would rather die than face again — high school. Filled with all the usual teen angst and drama seen in contemporary young-adult fiction, readers may wonder why the book is being targeted at a NA audience. Again, the answer is in the execution. See, what sets this apart from every other teenage love story is the fact that readers witness it much the way they would reminisce over their own memories, meaning it’s filtered through adult Cadence’s perspective. This future hindsight (for lack of a better way to describe it), allows Cadence to approach her choices and relationships with the maturity and understanding of her future self, thereby revealing the point of the story: a thought-provoking idea that will have you asking what you would change if you had the chance to go back and fix your mistakes.
Layer that philosophical foundation with a magical realism approach to storytelling and fantasy, the twists and turns of a mystery, and the emotional resonance of a beautiful, conflicted romance, and you start to see why Deceptive Cadence is aptly named. Hamstead brilliantly captures the intricacies of navigating relationships with a realism that is nothing less than impressive.
I may not have been a fan from the second I read the premise, but I devoured this (and the as yet unreleased but coming very very soon second half) with an all-consuming need to find out how it ended. By the time I reached that ending, I knew that Deceptive Cadence would forever be one of my all-time favorite stories. It haunted me for days afterward, and has turned me into a lifelong, devoted fan of Hamstead’s work.
So don’t let this one fool you. It’s amazing, and I highly HIGHLY recommend it. It does end with the dreaded “To Be Continued,” but fortunately, I believe the second half will be available very soon. And trust me, it’s well worth the short wait. 😉
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