Always A Love Song by Charley ClarkeAlways A Love Song by Charley Clarke is a lesbian romance that illustrates how our choices truly shape who we become. This is the debut novel by Charley Clarke. And if this is what I have to look forward to with her writing, then we are all in for some wonderful surprises.

Five years ago, Bridget Callahan and Alex Marlow decided to end their relationship and go their separate ways. Bridget became a successful pop star who is on every television and every radio station. After she experiences a very public broken engagement with Hollywood’s hottest actor, Bridget decides to head back to her hometown. There she hopes to gain some clarity, write songs for her next album, and finally be able to face Alex, the one person she hasn’t been able to let go.

Alex Marlow has spent the past five years tending bar, running a restaurant, and mending her broken heart by pretending that Bridget Callahan doesn’t exist. So far, she’s been able to do so without worry. But Bridget’s return disrupts her ordered life. Alex does her best to avoid Bridget at all costs. However, the pull of first love is hard to resist, especially when that first love is willing to do whatever she can to win you back.

Both women cannot shake the mistakes of the past, but they must confront them in order to move ahead. Can they forgive each other and themselves to start a new future together? Or will they be dictated by the decisions made by their younger selves and continue to live in constant heartache?

The Characters

Bridget Callahan isn’t your typical super star. She is still a very down-to-earth person who remembers the ideals and lessons she was taught as a kid. This has been a big part due to her friend, and writing partner, Max, who makes sure she doesn’t get a big head. So, when she decides to go back home, she has no qualms about where her place is within the borders of her town. She does, however, wonder where her place is in the heart of Alex Marlow.

Alex’s life seems to be really good. She’s a small business owner of the local bar and café in town. She shares her time with all of her life-long friends and lives an okay life. And that’s where the problem lies. Her life is okay, not happy. For Alex, happiness walked out the door five years ago in the form of Bridget Callahan. Nowadays, her passion is stymied by all the hurt she still harbors. When she gets wind that Bridget is coming back to town, she’s hell bent and determined to steer clear. But Alex’s treacherous heart has other plans.

Both women have allowed the hurt and the blame to control their lives. Now they’re going to have to confront the past if they have any chance for a future.

The Writing Style

Clarke has an uncanny ability to keep me intrigued throughout the entire story by her simple, yet  brilliant choices. All the love and all the hurt that has passed between Bridget and Alex through their entire lives is weaved together seamlessly by Clarke as she floats back and forth between the past and the present. We see the good times of Bridget and Alex’s relationship. Slowly, we see how their relationship turns. By the time we get to Bridget and Alex of today, we understand their heartache. We understand their anguish. More importantly, we understand what it’s going to take for them to be together again.

The Pros

Clarke has made me reach for a word that I don’t reach for often when describing two women in a story, and to me that is an immediate pro. In my opinion, the only word that can aptly describe Bridget and Alex is ‘Soulmates.” And I love being able to use that word with such conviction. It’s the only way to understand how these two women can go from longing, to hate, to lust, to regret, and finally to love in just a matter of moments after so much time has passed. That is really only one way to explain it. Bridget and Alex are married at the soul, and no amount of time away will ever change that.

The Cons

This is not necessarily a con for me, but some readers may not like a fade-to-black scenario on the sex scene. That’s exactly what Clarke does. While it would’ve been nice to see the physical act, I feel that Clarke handled the situation well enough that it wasn’t needed to make me understand the depth of emotion Bridget and Alex went through. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few good steamy make-out sessions that just happen because of their amazing connection and their history. So, Clarke does give us the steam. But if you’re wanting to have the physical act played out for you on the page, you might be a little disappointed.

The Conclusion

I’m a sucker for a good small town romance, and this one is definitely going to be one of my favorites for a long time. Bridget and Alex take us on an emotional journey of love that shows us sometimes the hurt we cause will lead to a stronger love. If you love small towns, soulmates, and wonderful women finding their way back to each other, then definitely pick this one up today.

Excerpt from Always A Love Song by Charley Clarke

She hadn’t been this close to Alex in years. This proximity used to be so normal. Even before they’d started dating, their friendship was all handholding and chaste touches and a primal desire to just be near the only other person on the planet who got them…

Alex busied herself with retying her boots, clearly not keen to start the conversation. She hadn’t moved away, though. That was cause to be hopeful, right?

“Alex…” for a heartbeat, Bridget could pretend nothing had changed. Despite the uncrossable chasm between them, they were tied together by broken promises and broken hearts. That had to count for something.

“I’ve missed you,” were the words that slipped from her lips. Then she closed her eyes because that was the worst thing to say, something she had no right to say anymore.

“Look,” Alex said, “I can’t object to you coming back here since it’s your hometown, too, but that doesn’t mean this is eas—” She took a deep breath. “Maybe we should just stay out of each other’s way.”

She moved to stand, but Bridget put a hand on her knee. Alex glared, the expression foreign and unsettling.

Bridget jerked her hand away. “I’ll respect that, Alex. I will. But I think a semblance of closure could do us some good.” She swallowed thickly. “One conversation. A few minutes. That’s all I’m asking for.”

“Closure,” Alex said with a quiet, mirthless chuckle. Then she stood and brushed off her pants, and just like that Alex was walking away from her.

If there was any proof that karma existed, this was it right here – the worst act Bridget had ever committed now turned against her every time they interacted.

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Bits and Bobs

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