A gorgeously sweet, sassy and sexy love story that will tear you apart and imprint itself on your heart.
Ok, deep breath… in, out… Right. I’m actually speechless. I’ve never read anything by J. Nathan before, but that is about to change because I am going to get my hands on EVERY. single. one. of. her. books. Just saying. So, I finished For Finlay last night. It took me a whole 6 hours to gobble it up. Obviously, it’s not the first time I’ve done that – but, FML, it actually left me feeling bereft – and it wasn’t the usual end of book blues. Nah-ah. This was so bad that I couldn’t even fathom starting another book and the first thing I wanted to do this morning was reread the whole damn story again! And please believe me when I say that I will be rereading this book again very, very soon. Caden and Finlay have stolen a piece of my heart, that I will struggle to ever get back. My chest is still palpitating, my eyes are still lagged with residual tears, and my bottom lip feels like a chipping block. I’m fan-girling so bad over this book, that as I am sat here writing this review, I have the playlist on repeat in the background! Yes, I’m that girl. And no, I’m not even a little ashamed!
‘…if he made my head feel so out of control, what would he do to my heart…’
Let me try and pull myself together enough to actually make some sense. So, For Finlay is a college/ sports romance, it screams One Tree Hill. It has that coming of age story feel to it, however there is so much depth and feeling that you’re left blindsided by what it does to you as a reader. There isn’t that needy and whiney drag that you can get in novels in this genre, and if anything that is such a testament to Nathan’s writing style and talent. She’s not the first to take an unlikable/ hard character and make them relatable. However in a sea of writers that have done this time and time again, she has truly outshone them all. She has created this alluring and sexy push and pull between Caden and Finlay that keeps you turning those pages so fast you could get whiplash.
‘Next time, I won’t be a gentleman.’
Her characters are multi-faceted and grounded, and this is why you have no choice but to become so attached to them. The beautiful thing about her writing is that you don’t get one description of who her characters are, instead she has achieved a flow that allows you to get to know them a little in every page, as though you are actually getting to know a person. For me, this is what makes Caden and Finlay so real and it’s what makes me empathise with them. It’s truly what allowed them into my heart. I’m not usually into sports based stories, I find that sometimes that whole thing just gets in the way of the storytelling, however, the cunning of this story is that the sports aspect isn’t just a sideline thing – no, Nathan has used it to weave the plot. Basically, it’s not just an element but it’s actually the glue that meshes Caden and Finlay together as individuals.
‘I’ve learned never to assume anything in life.’
I’d be lying if I said this is a birds chirping in trees, everything is fine and dandy kind of book. It’s not. Every word on every page is loaded with grief, loss and the kind of love that rips your insides apart. If you think you’re going to be able read this book without tissues at the ready, boy… you’ve got a surprise coming your way. From the very beginning it feels like your heart is tightened to a point that your breathing is pained with apprehension. She’s done the whole ‘will they, won’t they’ in a refreshing banter filled way that makes you laugh even as you’re still gripped by Finlay’s grief. One of the things that made this love story so endearing is that Nathan hasn’t just pushed her characters together, far from it, she has inched them together little by little. Every encounter, every look, every smile, every word spoken to each other serves as the rope that is slowly binding them together. However, when they do come together… Oh lordy… lordy… lord…
‘You think that felt nice? Just wait until I’m inside you…’
The steamy scenes which Nathan has brought to life are tender and sweet, and they evolve the story and both of her characters. And the brilliant thing about this is that there isn’t the usual ah-ha ‘I’m in love with…’ moment, no, there’s a slow burning build and once it erupts its a thing of beauty. It’s also what makes you fall in love with Caden as the hero, he’s very much laid-back and happy-go-lucky – whilst also maintaining an intensity… a fierceness that engraves him in your mind and heart. Caden has this all consuming, awe ensuing presence that drives the premise and enhances Finlay’s own. Don’t get me wrong, Finlay is no Bella Swan. She has baggage, however that doesn’t define her, it’s not what makes her who she is – and that is such a rare thing to come across in stories like this. On the contrary, Finlay is strong, beautiful, seductive and intelligible. She holds her own.
‘If I didn’t like you so much, I would seriously hate you right now…’
To me For Finlay is one of those books that will always stay with me. It has left a mark that will never be erased. There aren’t many characters, or stories that have managed that. The first ones that come to mind off the bat are Nicholas Spark’s The Longest Ride and Amber Addison’s Flightpath – and now J. Nathan’s For Finlay. I can’t begin to even tell you what this book will do to you as a reader. But, let me try. For Finlay takes you in, steals your heart, breaks it, patches it back up and never gives it back to you. Maybe it’s just me, but that is exactly what a true love story is.
‘…it was in that moment, as Finlay’s green eyes gazed up at me, that I realized she had the power to destroy me in more ways than one. I knew it, and I was pretty damn sure she knew it too…’
‘I did it for Finlay.’