Meet Luke Crawley in Blake Austin's debut novel of loss, redemption, and ever-enduring love!
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Luke Cawley is a broken man. After his wife's tragic death, he lost everything that mattered in the world. Now, his life is filled with hard days, harder nights, and a steady stream of alcohol and the wrong kind of women. Nothing helps.
Until the letters arrive on Luke's doorstep.
Nine envelopes. Nine messages. Nine chances to find his way back.
Rae Goode is looking for the real thing. After fighting her way out of a string of bad relationships, she's ready for something different--something true. She meets Luke while piecing her life together, and right away she can tell that he's different. Drawn together by fate and the desire to heal, Rae and Luke discover new ways to mend their broken hearts--one letter at a time.
Discover Blake Austin's debut novel of loss, redemption, and ever-enduring love.
I was about twenty minutes early for my shift, but I got up to the bar, grabbed a rag, started wiping it down, bussing some dishes.
"Damn, Luke," Jake said, watching me work. "You win the lotto or something? Royals win the pennant last night and I forgot to watch?"
"I'm just in a good mood, that's all," I said.
I thought about it a moment longer, decided I should tell him more. Impart some wisdom learned from my not-particularly-advanced years.
"When everything's dark for so damn long and your eyes get used to it," I said, "just a little glimmer of sunshine lights up the whole world."
He nodded, then grabbed a bus bin and headed back into the kitchen.
Warren though, Warren wasn't impressed. He was sitting by one of the daytime barflies, but he'd stopped talking and was just watching me. I was on thin ice, and I knew it. I couldn’t afford to lose my job. A heartbroken, drunk, angry widower is probably as unemployable as the average ex-con.
I came on at the end of the day shift. Warren liked tending bar during the day, because it meant just shooting the shit with the regulars. That day I had a smile for every customer, sparse words of wisdom like day drunks want to hear. Tending bar wasn't my dream. But to hell with letting that make me lazy. I kept the place clean, I poured drinks like I cared.
I was getting into the swing of it when happy hour kicked in and a few more people filtered through the door. Couple of middle-aged bikers, a retired couple that parked their RV out front.
The door swung open again, letting in a little bit of that early-evening cold, and I glanced up to see a crowd of three women, with two men. One of the women was a reddish blonde, radiant. Sort of stole the light out of the room. It was Rae. Our eyes met and her smile gave the room back its light.
She'd been in jeans at the shelter, but she was in a blue dress now and she looked damn fine in either. Took my mind right off Maggie, faster than I thought it would be possible. I met her eyes, and she gave out a little gasp and giggle. I was probably smiling in surprise myself.
The crowd came over to the bar. I'd thought the other four were two couples, but I realized pretty quick that the black girl with the afro was dating the quiet white guy in a beard and glasses and tattoos, and that the other guy was trying to impress Rae. He had a John Deere hat, but his clothes were way too clean for me to buy it that he worked on a farm. I hated him, right off. I probably would have hated him if he was the best guy in the world, though. The other girl, she was tall, latina, and for some indiscernible reason was interested in the poser farmer.
Most of the time, I'm awful at reading people. But for some reason, at work I can tell you everything about everyone who walks in the door. About who's into who, about who had a bad day at work. Who wants to get drunk and miserable, who wants to get drunk and happy, who wants to get drunk and start trouble. Maybe it's some magic of the job, maybe it's just how people carry themselves at a bar. Helps with tips, that's for certain. You wingman right, and the money flows in.
Warren, he likes to upsell them drinks when he's doing that. Get them excited about the top shelf. Not me.
"Hey, Rae," I said.
"Luke," she said.
John Deere looked at me like I was the scum of the earth. And maybe I was, but if I was the scum then he was... I don't know, something worse than scum. Wannabe scum.
She introduced me to her friends. Nicole had the afro, her boyfriend was Eric. The girl with bad taste was Irina, and John Deere had some name but honestly it went in one ear and out the other. He was John Deere to me. Yeah, maybe I'm an asshole.
"So, how do you know this guy?" Deere asked, tossing me a look that said I clearly wasn’t good enough to be friend with someone like Rae.
"Oh, he came in just the other day. Adopted the sweetest dog, a bloodhound." She turned to me, flashing that dimple high on her cheek. "How is he? You guys call a truce yet?"
"King's great," I said. "I mean, he's probably at home right now, eating everything I've ever owned, but I figure I was due for a purge anyway, right?"
It was a lame attempt at humor, but Rae laughed.
"What can I get you all? Friend of Rae's is a friend of mine."
Blake Austin is a guitar playing father of one, who lives in Los Angeles. He's written music for as long as he can remember and was inspired to add book writing to his repertoire. 9 Letters is his debut novel.
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'Nine Letters' is the story of Luke, a twentyish widower that after a year of losing his wife still has a hard time dealing with life. It all begins to change when he receives a box with 9 letters from her late wife. From then on, he will meet new people, start new adventures and adopt a lovely dog. A story about love, loss, and where we go after losing what matters the most.
The story has a constant rhythm and uses time jumps to the past. This way we get to know the love story between Luke and Emily. They met in high school and their story is charming and sort of innocent, yet you can see he really loved her and still does. We need to witness this in order to understand his present pain and why his life is a mess.
Luke has an excellent voice, a book told from a male POV is not common and sometimes they are alternated with female ones but here we have an exclusive masculine narrator. He tells the things as he sees them and is honest and raw.
For a moment after reading the blurb and the first chapters I was afraid it was a similar story to one popular book that became a movie (I'm sure you know which one) luckily, it was nothing alike. The letters are her wife's last words, final thoughts and the last advice she will give him. Most of them are not sweet or romantic, their only purpose is to help Luke with the pain and make him forgive himself and life.
The book is an emotional ride without being too depressive or cheesy and this last point is really important. There are numerous books about loss and grieve out there and many of them will make you cry. '9 Letters' is different because I think it purpose is not make you cry by talking about death or unbearable pain, for me this book is about a real man and his path to normalcy.
I know the book is labeled as romance but I wouldn't put it in that category. There is some romance linked to Rae, the female character of the book but she is there for moments and her role is not to help him. I like that the author created a character who show us that sometimes healing depends entirely on us, people can be there for us, friendship and love will help but, in the end, is us who have to take the reins of our fate and decide to move on.
$20 Winner’s Choice Book Retailer Gift Card & Signed Paperback (1 Winner)