Etta

Review: The Spark (ARC)

Expected publication: December 31st 2020

Author: Jules Wake

Jess is falling for Sam.

Sam is falling for Jess.

But it seems life will do whatever it takes to make them fall apart.

When Jess and Sam lock eyes at a party, a spark ignites. The spark. But love at first sight isn’t like the movies, especially when Sam’s ex, Victoria, is determined to make their honeymoon period a living hell.

Is love at first sight enough?

What happens when you meet your soul mate and you feel that instant spark? This novel sets out to explore how two people meet and feel that connection where they are meant to be, but when life gets in the way, can this spark be enough? The Spark was an easy enough read where I was able to read it within a day. As it is set in England, there are random phrasings that took me a few seconds longer than normal to understand as they aren’t quite the same meanings/uses in the U.S.  Two people who are each other’s Lego pieces and just click seamlessly together face many obstacles to be together.

We begin the story where Jess Harper, a woman in her late twenties who works for a women’s refuge, is attending a party at her aunt and uncle’s house. While out in the garden, she meets the only other attendee her age, Sam Weaverham, a man in his late twenties who is a primary school teacher for kids with special needs and a semi-pro cricket player. The two have an instant spark and their conversation flows seamlessly and they feel super comfortable being around each other. The only issue is that Sam is currently in a long-term relationship (four years) with an influencer named Victoria. To remain faithful to his girlfriend, they agree that they have a connection, but Sam and Jess can’t be together, even as friends. Jess is torn by being in contact with Sam as her family has been broken by having another woman involved.   Unfortunately, they run into each other, text, and become Facebook friends and Jess can’t help how she’s feeling for Sam. This dynamic conflicted me as on one hand, I can understand how you would want to stay somewhat connected to your soul mate, but on the other, as Jess has been so damaged by her past “other woman” issues, I could not understand why she refused contact with Sam for a clean break before anything could potentially happen. (It wouldn’t be a story though if she followed the latter.)

As Sam was unable to get over the spark he felt with Jess, he ends his relationship with Victoria and pursues Jess after a little over a month after first meeting. The two of them start to date, but are faced with many obstacles caused mainly by the scorned ex, Victoria.  On their first date, Vic shows up outside when the new couple is exiting the restaurant and causes a huge scene. Sam comforts Vic and Jess leaves upset. This initial interaction between the three did not sit as well with me because Sam is the issue. By comforting Victoria, he sets up the expectations that it is okay for her to act out and he is in the wrong and therefore has to comfort her. It eliminates the boundaries and to me is actually what sets off Vic’s determination to break up Jess and Sam in order to win him back. If Sam placed the boundary between him and Victoria initially by reminding her that it’s over and showed her more tough love by walking away with Jess, then it would’ve at least illustrated that Jess was the woman in Sam’s life now.

As this scenario did not happen, Victoria remains in Sam’s life although Sam is frustrated by this. Jess keeps having inner turmoil as she feels bad for Vic and claims that Jess is the other woman that broke them apart and Jess needs to treat Vic kindly and accept everything (even the bad) that Vic does. It sort-of makes sense in a way how people outside the couple can initially believe that Jess is the other woman as Sam did leave Vic to be with Jess, but as some time did pass between one relationship ending and the other beginning along with Jess wasn’t involved with Sam before he broke up with Vic, however, I couldn’t fully get behind this idea. Sam’s family is a main culprit of this as they favor Victoria and just consider Jess a phase before Sam will return to Vic. It’s hard to fully tell as not every detail is shown if Sam had conversations about the end of his relationship with his family or not. If he did, then he really needed to reiterate the story that he is not with Vic and has no desire to go back. If he did not, then he needed to communicate more with his family. Either way, I could not understand Sam’s family as they dismissed Jess without giving her a chance because they favored Vic. Although it was realistic, it was extremely hard to relate to as my family would never remain in contact with an ex (no matter how long the relationship) unless we specifically had a conversation okaying it.  

Jess and her mother have a strained relationship after Jess’ dad left to be with another woman. The mother experienced a break-down from the break-up and their relationship is strained from the incident. As Jess feels like the other woman in her relationship with Sam, she finds parallels from her own relationship to her parent’s. Throughout the novel, Jess reflects on her past and present as she starts to explore maybe there is more to the story of her parents then initially met the eye.  Throughout this journey, as a reader, you do begin to feel some sympathy for Joan, Jess’ mother, but I think she needed either more therapy or outside help to have it continuously affect her over ten years later. I felt for both Joan and Victoria as it’s heart-breaking when the one you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with leaves and finds happiness with someone else. However, although it’s extremely painful, you’d think that either woman would even think for a second of the positive side.  It’s better to break things off, then to be with someone who isn’t fully committed and is possibly thinking of someone else.

Overall, this is a story about dealing with the fallout of past relationships and the start of new ones. No love story is perfect and is worth any obstacle if you are meant to be.  Jess and Sam were definitely meant to be as they are both similar personalities and dealt with situations in the same way. They both were super nice and gave people the benefit of the doubt, even when others would not. The novel was very realistic and it was nice to read a story, even if I don’t fully agree with the decisions the characters made along the way. It was well-written and flowed nicely between each chapter.  I loved how family and friendships were included as they are affected by our romantic choices and the decisions we make in romance can affect those around us. After reading this story, I’m definitely intrigued to read more as I enjoyed this take on a classic romantic story.

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