Samantha Barrett barely remembers her grandmother after she left when Sam was only a toddler. Every time Sam asked about her, she got the same response: her grandmother abandoned her family to be with someone else. She finally gives up on ever learning anything more, until one day a package shows up containing an obituary, along with letters and mementos from her grandmother. She has left everything to Samantha with one request: read the letters and return the mementos to their rightful owners on a cross country trip to San Francisco in the hopes that Samantha will have a better understanding of the woman who left, who she was, and why she made the decisions she made. It is a daunting task for Samantha, and she knows there is no way she wants to do it alone. So, she enlists her best friend, Ellis, to take this journey with her.
Ellis Hudson is Boston born and raised, and has worked for Samantha’s father’s law firm for eight years. She has genuine feelings for Samantha that go beyond friendship, but she knows there’s no future when you fall in love with your straight best friend. So, she does her best to fill the void with one night stands and be the biggest best friend Samantha could have or want. When Samantha asks her to go on this trip with her, Ellis is hoping it’ll give her a chance to find clarity, not only about her feelings for Samantha but also the doubts she has about her career.
Armed with a map, a few letters, and a few names, Samantha and Ellis head out across the country. Along the way they meet people who knew Samantha’s grandmother, and they are able to learn more about this mysterious woman and how much she was cherished by the people who knew her best. It is a journey of discovery in so many ways for Samantha: she learns about the grandmother who left so long ago, and she also realizes her attraction to Ellis is more than a one-time drunken kiss.
This journey will challenge both these women in what they believe about the other, as well as discovering the life lessons left behind by Samantha’s grandmother to listen and follow their hearts.
The one aspect that Parker utilizes to makes this slow burn romance amazing to read is allowing Samantha and Ellis’s friendship to be the driving force behind their feelings for each other. She does not let their individual backgrounds play an overt role in preventing them from being together, yet she does allow the it to shape the characters into people you want to see together by the end.
Samantha Barrett is a high society paralegal in her father’s law firm. Despite her upper-class status, Parker makes Samantha very grounded in the realities of the world and the work she does. Part of that grounded reality is due to her father, but I also feel a large part of that is due to her friendship with Ellis. She has compassion and a need to know before making quick judgements about people, no matter what she has been told. This is most evident with her dilemma on whether or not to abide by her grandmother’s wishes and take this trip as requested, or believe what her mother has told her all these years and let her memory die. It is this characteristic that really draws the reader to Samantha, and Parker is wonderful at showing Samantha’s compassion and big heart as the story unfolds.
Ellis Hudson did not have the same upbringing as Samantha, but she does have the same compassion and heart. I loved how Parker allowed Ellis to convey her feelings for Samantha through friendly gestures, whether they be minute or extreme. I love her passion and her drive, and her willingness to question her position and her career choices over other heart felt matters that are important to her. She is a great balance to Samantha, and even if the two characters had never become romantic, I would have been satisfied to see them together as friends based on Parker’s ability to make them relatable (for the record, I’m really glad they do end up together).
Even though she is never physically present in the book, Louise Barrett, Samantha’s grandmother, is the pivotal character that binds this story together. Parker does well to integrate her and make the reader fall in love with her and meet her through letters, old friends, and eventually her partner. Every letter that Parker allowed me to read from Louise made me cheer her on to be with the love of her life just as much as I cheered on Samantha and Ellis. It’s not an easy task I’m sure, and I was happy to learn a lot about Louise on this journey with Samantha and Ellis.
The Writing Style
I loved the pacing of this novel, which is surprising since it took me all the way from Boston to San Francisco. I never felt like any portion of it was unnecessary, which is smart for a story like this where the journey is as important as the destination.
Slow burn romances can be tricky with pacing, but Parker does it just right. The story is fluid with its development and progress of Samantha and Ellis’ relationship, and she gives the reader little nuggets to tide them over as they travel all the way to San Francisco. It can be frustrating at times to see these characters get so close and then back off, but then all good slow burn romances have that characteristic. And this one is amazing at it.
I loved learning about Louise and her life before Samantha was born through the people who knew her best. It made me wish I had that opportunity to learn about my own grandmother that way.
I wasn’t really fond of Samantha’s mother. She is the obvious antagonist of this story so Parker wrote her in a way that I shouldn’t like her. But I actually liked how Parker allowed her to be redeemed at the end of the story. That’s not really a con for me, but her attitude at the beginning is.
This is an amazing slow burn romance that really allows the reader to enjoy not only the growing relationship between Samantha and Ellis, but it also allows them a glimpse into the past of a person who was beloved and chose to love a specific person in a time that it was highly frowned upon. What I believe Parker wants us to take away from this story is that to know who we are today, it helps to know where we came from. I think she succeeded in delivering that message and giving us amazing characters to follow along that journey.
Excerpt from Remember Me by Syd Parker
Samantha laid the letter on the table and scrubbed her palms over her face. She picked up a sealed envelope and stared at it anxiously; as if afraid it might grow fangs and bite her. That would certainly be an odd first for her, she thought. She slapped the envelope against her palm, not sure what kept her from opening it. Perhaps it was her fear of the unknown. She didn’t know her grandmother at all and was unsure what she would find. Was she like her mother? What if Samantha tried to carry out her wishes and let her down? Was she just setting herself up for disappointment? What if the truth was something she didn’t really want to know? She didn’t have a clue about any of that.
It suddenly hit her that what bothered her most of all was the unknown. Samantha didn’t like not knowing. That wasn’t how she operated. She liked knowing the answer before the question and in this case, Samantha wasn’t even sure she knew the right question. What she did know was that she needed reinforcements and a drink before she could think about it anymore. She pulled her cell phone from her pocket and dialed a familiar number. When the husky voice on the other end picked up, Samantha smiled widely. Her best friend Ellis Hudson was as close to a sister as she would ever get.
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781494720506