The Year of Loving by Traci L. Slatton
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Sarah’s courage, humor, and spirit strengthen her, but how much can she bear, and what sustains her when all else falls away?
Reviews of THE YEAR OF LOVING
The Reading Cafe
THE YEAR OF LOVING by Traci L. Slatton is a contemporary, adult, romance story line about one woman’s struggle in both her personal and professional life. Mother of two, twice divorced art gallerist Sarah Paige has a toxic relationship with her daughters thanks to their father-a man who uses his money and family name to destroy the relationship between the girls and their mom.
Sarah Paige is a forty-something, fiercely independent woman struggling against professional and personal bankruptcy, in the midst of her second divorce, the continued and complicated estrangement from her daughters, and the difficult acceptance of her best friend’s cancer diagnosis. To complicate matters Sarah finds herself attracted to and drawn towards two men each offering something different but wanting a relationship with our story line heroine. What Sarah offers to each man does not allow for any permanency –she is unwilling to give up control over any aspect of her life.
THE YEAR OF LOVING focuses on one woman’s difficult battle with the world around her. The hardships of a struggling business, and wanting to remain independent juxtaposed to a series of misfortunes and personal failure. Sarah is a woman with a vulnerable side that forces our heroine to lash out and alienate the people she loves, as she attempts to reconcile the conflicts in her life. Some times the best action is to walk away and start over.
THE YEAR OF LOVING is a story of hardships and struggles; embittered exes, and troubled and rebellious teens caught between the destructive nature of battling parents. Traci L. Slatton writes a tale of one woman’s emotional journey into the abyss of relationship failure, financial strain, and an independent nature that comes across as complicated and unrelenting. The premise is intense; the characters are controversial and tragic. There are moments of heartbreak and grief; acceptance and moving forward; falling in love and letting go of the past. THE YEAR OF LOVING is a revealing, realistic and sensitive story with a passionate heroine whose life is slowly unraveling.
Sandy on The Reading Cafe
Tome Tender Book Blog
In two words I can give my recommendation of Traci L. Slatton’s The Year of Loving, READ IT!
In today’s society life comes at us from all angles at a rapid-fire pace, good or bad and there comes a time when one doesn’t know how much more they can take. That time has come for Sarah Paige and she is struggling to regain her sense of balance, self-worth and to find a place to heal and feel good about herself. Divorced almost twice, a mother of two, a business owner barely staying afloat, Sarah is caught in an emotional threshing machine as her embittered ex-husband does all he can to undermine her relationship with her daughters, turning them against her with his lavish gifts and endless bankroll. When her best friend further shatters the fragile hold she has on life, all Sarah has left is the tenuous hold she has on controlling her own life.
Two men want Sarah, one is far too young, self-absorbed in his own life, one is older, powerful and used to taking control of every situation. While both have their good sides, Sarah is not ready to commit to anyone until she can rein in her own personal issues. For anyone who has ever felt like it is you against the world, like your heart is being stabbed repeatedly with a rusty blade or like a cockroach under someone’s shoe, you will relate to Sarah in all her flawed glory.
Traci L. Slatton has NOT created a Shrinking Violet in Sarah, or a woman who spends her energy wallowing in self-pity. Sarah is a strong woman, vital and oh my, her wickedly wry sense of humor is priceless! Her headstrong determination sometimes is her worst enemy, but hey, no one is perfect. I almost needed a leather strap to bite on when she tangled with her daughters and their callous attitudes when her concern WAS to be a good parent who tried to set high standards for them, knowing she was powerless to help them see that her boundaries were far healthier than their father’s “gifts.” Another connecting point for so many. Love her, hate her, Sarah is real, she feels, she tries to do what is right, no matter what, but she is a woman alone and she recognizes that, too, no excuses, no apologies.
If you are looking for a meaningful read that feels so very real, look to Traci L. Slatton’s The Year of Loving and feel the power in the words she has written for today’s society. Definitely a Gem to be read and felt!
Dii on TomeTender Blog
Romantic Fanatic Book Blog
Great book with a main character that I’m not sure how she keeps going. A few time in this story I was waiting for her to give up, I think most people would with everything she was dealing with. I liked how the author kept me wondering what now!! Boy she didn’t let me down either. This book has great ups and big downs and yes I cried a few times. The author makes this like a friend that you taking with and helping on this path. Great story!!
Brave One on Romantic Fanatic Book Blog
Lissette E. Manning Endless Possibilities Blog
Makes you feel things
Sarah Paige has done her best to keep her world together. Everywhere she goes, another piece of her existence crumbles. It pains her to know that she and her children aren’t as close as they should be. Though she’d like to change that fact, she’s not quite sure how she should go about it. Determined to hold on to the little she has left, she’ll do everything possible to maintain her sanity. Little does she know just how much her life will continue to change.
A bittersweet, yet heartwarming story, we get to see just how much Sarah changes and grows throughout the course of her existence. She’s a woman who’s endured so much. A woman who feels like she’s floundering in a dark abyss. She wants to change things, not only for herself, but those around her. At times, she feels like she’ll never get to where she wants to be. She’s used to being very independent, hating the fact that she sometimes needs to rely on others. Nevertheless, she ends up finding the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.
Traci has written a story that anyone can relate to. It’s a story of a woman’s struggle to overcome the adversities in her life. Granted, not everything is as easy as they may seem, but Sarah makes do with the cards she’s been dealt. She’ll lash out often, of course, but that’s the beauty of trying to start life over again. She gets to choose the path she wants to walk on and live life her way no matter how hard it may seem.
This is one of those books that make you feel things from the moment you start reading. Sarah finds herself in situations that a good many in this life have gone through. Everything she experiences are vividly shown, allowing the reader to relate to her experiences. Life is hard, but every goal we set for ourselves is achievable. This is something the author shows us the more we progress through the story. I like the way Sarah chooses to assert herself instead of drowning in her sorrow. Little by little, she finds her way again despite the odds. Her strength and courage come through clearly, allowing the reader to understand the choices she makes every step of the way.
Lissette on Lissette E. Manning Endless Possibilities Blog
Books, Reviews, Etc
Emotions will ride high
This book is a romantic adult book. The main character is a divorced, not once but twice, woman who has an art gallery. She has two children of which her relationships are not good. One barely speaks to her and the other is, lets say, way out there. She is struggling with her art gallery and also with her personal life. A lot of her bad relationships with her two girls is due to their father. He has money and also the name to go with it. He uses this to keep the rift going between his ex-wife and his two girls. Probably a lot of divorced women feel this today. Being in her forties, Sarah is strong and doesn't rely on anyone. As if this wasn't enough to keep her life dangling, she finds out her best friend has cancer. She is having trouble accepting this. She has a tendency to keep people at a distance. I don't know if that is to keep from getting hurt further or why? The author gives examples of every day events that a woman deals with, or tries to deal with. On top of this there are two men she has taken a fancy to. Two very different men. Both are interested in Sarah but both have different things to offer her. She doesn't want a man to control her or her life. She just isn't willing to let go of the one thing she has, independence. Emotions will ride high as the reader turns the pages. Can Sarah let herself fall in love, move onward and let go, let go of the past that haunts her everyday. The author gives a story of everyday, realistic life where sometimes struggles get the best of us and we push those that love us away. Real life, real problems, that's what this book is about. Sometimes you just do your best, but sometimes your best isn't good enough. Sometimes it takes, never looking back and starting over. Those t hat have gone through a divorce, have teenagers, a business and are struggling to keep it all together may relate to this book.
Gayle on Books, Reviews, Etc.
Midwest Book Review: Donovan's Shelf
Lively, fun romp
Sarah's personal life is unwinding: her art gallery is struggling to stay solvent in a tough market, her parents are dead, both her marriages have ended, her children are a mess, and her best friend has cancer. What else could go wrong in her life?
Change is the last thing she wants in her stormy world; but it assumes the guise of two very different men who enter her life, seeking a relationship with her. Each brings something to an already-full table. Should Sarah even be thinking about imbibing?
In many lives, tribulations hit all at once. A year of emotional hell and change is not an unusual occurrence in the course of life; but what is unusual in The Year of Loving is that two very different ways of giving and receiving love and support are added into a life already poised on the brink of disaster.
As readers follow Sarah's transformative process, past influences, and present challenges, they come to realize the options always inherent in the opening or closing of any door and the self-driven opportunities that can be faced even at the age of 50. As Sarah discovers she's never too old to forge new paths in life, so she enters into heady romantic possibilities that differ from any choices she's made in the past.
The Year of Loving chronicles an independent woman's struggles for achievement in many different ways. Don't expect a knight in shining armor to sweep into her world: her romantic interests are flawed, only human, and anything but dominating controllers. Do expect a sassy, candid tale of emotional and physical scars, distraction and commitment, conversations that reflect real-world experiences, a healthy dose of humor ("Why can't I sleep over?" "We're not at that stage," I said. "What stage are we at?" "The booty call stage."), and a learning process that links choices of the past to realities of the present ("I shrugged and returned to the present, to the warm and solid man standing so close to me. "All I had to do was accept being a third class citizen; accept their condescension. Listen to George continually telling me that I was crazy and incompetent and a rage monster and that no one else but him would ever want me." "You didn't get out of that marriage soon enough," Carl observed, his blue eyes scanning my face. "It does explain a few things. To be clear, Sarah, I'm nothing like the Calhouns.")
The result is a lively, fun romp through life that carries readers through the options and choices of a heady year in which everything changes and Sarah learns how to live the life she chooses not just in response to, but in spite of, the swirl of relationships around her. Women will find it the perfect leisure or beach read.
Donovan's Book Shelf on Midwest Book Review
The Portsmouth Review
Traci L. Slatton is an indie author who I’m familiar with after having read several of her novels. I’ve zipped through her After Trilogy books (post-apocalyptic scifi) and Broken, a WWII fantasy involving angels, the latter of which has an end that I still haven’t quite recovered from. Although straight romance is not within my normal reading zone, I still needed to read The Year of Loving because – it’s Traci L. Slatton. Her sumptuous writing speaks for itself. Parvati Press | Paperback | October, 2016 | 430 pp
Sarah Paige is a twice-divorced art gallery owner in New York City and life is complicated. Gallery after gallery had been closing because of the recession and Sarah is walking the red line, doing whatever she can to stay afloat. Her oldest daughter refuses to speak to her, turned against Sarah by her first husband, her second daughter is struggling with drugs, alcohol, boys, and school, and her best friend was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It’s definitely not the right time to meet a new beau, but the powers that be decide to send her two.
Scott is a recently divorced oncologist who is new to the city and new to dating. He’s fun to be around, devilishly handsome, and obviously as smart as they come. But there are two drawbacks to Scott – he’s married to his job and he’s ten years younger than Sarah.
Carl is a sophisticated older widow who enters Sarah’s life with a few purchases from her gallery, keeping her afloat. A magnate in the banking industry, Carl is fabulously wealthy and is immediately attracted to Sarah.
Sarah likes both men but she doesn’t want a relationship. Things get complicated when Sarah discovers that Scott is the doctor selected to treat her best friend Trudi for the pancreatic cancer. They both know treatment is a long shot, but no one says it out loud. To complicate matters further, Carl (whose wife died from the same cancer) befriends Trudi, and works on her behalf by pulling strings behind the scenes. Sarah tries to keep both men at bay, even pushes them away, but sometimes she needs them at different moments, each offering a different sort of love and brand of emotional support. It’s just not something she wants to deal with, nor does she have the time to devote.
While Sarah lives a life most of us can only dream of (rubbing elbows with the elites of NYC, holding cocktail parties in highbrow art galleries, being a super smart, credentialed art history brainiac, being considered for a highly sought-after museum position, and being wooed by two incredible men), she’s also up to her neck in problems that would break most of us. Her youngest daughter is kicked out of school and sent to a special school for the troubled where she also flounders, she battles lawsuits with her first ex-husband, she discovers that her first ex-husband and new wife have been deliberately sabotaging her relationships with her children, her best friend is wasting away in front of her, she’s about to be forced to close her gallery, and her beloved dog is on his last legs.
Differing from most romances on a level of personal taste, there was no eye rolling. Sarah’s character development is thoroughly hashed out and delivered as a newly independent woman who wants to focus on herself and her children rather than potential suitors. But she’s human. And humans have needs. They also have faults. I found her character to be someone I could relate to and someone I would love to know in real life. She so desperately wants her independence, so much so that she won’t let Carl float her by buying more paintings after they start their tryst. I can completely understand this – she didn’t want to feel indebted, owned, controlled. Scott also threatens that independence when he drops his young children off without warning when he’s on call, and asks (no, TELLS) her to cook for him. And unlike traditional love triangles, Sarah is up front with both men: She doesn’t want a relationship, and she’s seeing other people. Like I said, no eye rolling here.
In addition to the life drama and romantic situations, there is also the depiction of the gilt-edged aristocracy of art gallery and museum patronage – and the sordid business of discovering/promoting new artists. Sarah has her own ideas that essentially run against the current status quo.
“I think about it differently,” I said with some zest. “Probably because I come from the gallery side. Do you realize that only five blue chip galleries account for one-third of the solo shows in American museums? Gallery representation at the right gallery has become a path to a major museum show. In fact, it’s just about the only path, and it’s become a closed and incestuous game of mutual back-scratching. We could even call it corrupt. Because museums rely on gallery funding to foist shows. And galleries rely on museums to validate artists – to promote them, essentially – so that their artists can command substantial prices. So there is no longer any separation between the market and the museum.”
The Year of Loving is a wonderful read for those who adore romance, intelligent women’s fiction, and steamy scenes. And as always, Slatton manages to turn any story into a literary piece with her sophisticated prose and keen eye for detail. Above all, it’s a timely piece for the independent woman who’s just trying to hold on for dear life.
The Portsmouth Review
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Capture your attention
On the surface, we have a woman (Sarah) caught between ages, pulled two ways by desire, and struggling to make all the pieces fit one big puzzle in an effort to reach happily-ever-after. At its heart, it's a story of one woman truly finding her way back to herself.
Did I agree with all her choices? No...in fact, I was actually very surprised by the ending and who she ended up or rather didn't end up with. I was thinking something completely different, but then again, that resistance to fit what I think, or what anyone thinks for that matter, is what makes Ms. Slatton's character that much more real. The way Sarah struggles to deal with her friend's illness (though I do wish there was actually more time spent on this, despite it not being the focal point of the story...I loved this character!), the constant battle between her and her daughters (let's now even mention the ex) to find some common ground let alone agreement on pretty much anything, and even the yoyo not-a-relationship status she puts herself and the two contenders in, all add up to one independent, not-perfect-but-still-trying-mightily woman that will capture your attention, if not your heart.
Overall, I do believe it is well suited for the genre selected and that it will find (if it hasn't already) a good audience ready to soak up Sarah's story and match their own life experiences to hers as well. There are several areas where the story does tend to drag a bit, but they are few and easily fended off by trying to solve the many riddles of WWSD (what-will-Sarah-do). FYI...not for the kiddos as there are some scenes that tend towards adult audiences specifically, including an unusually creative use of a baggie. I shall say no more. *smirk*
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
CTRL, ALT, BOOKS!
Great Story and Must Read
Traci L. Slatton is one of the most underrated authors I have come across. I have yet to read one of her works that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy and The Year of Loving is no exception. It was beautifully written and evoked a wide range of emotions. I went in to reading this story, not really certain how things would pan out but the synopsis left me intrigued.
The book gained my interest from the very first page, although there were times when the story slowly progressed. Sarah, the main character, has so many struggles going on in her life, it’s a wonder that she was able to cope with it all. There were times that I was concerned that maybe she wasn’t coping well at all. Sarah’s story made me feel, truly feel, as if I were a part of her life and I was her long time friend. Her story made me shed tears for her, for what she had to deal with. Her family was falling to pieces, her love life was laughable at times, her best friend had cancer and she had to deal with the loss of a pet.
Traci has such a way with words. I absolutely love the way she writes! The details and description bring you into the story. I don’t know much about art, but after reading Sarah’s story, I feel more knowledgeable in the subject. The book is written in such a way that you really connect with all of the characters, whether you like them or not. I had to keep reading to know what happened next in Sarah’s life, even if that meant I lost a little (a lot) of sleep in the process. Truly a great story and a must read!
Layna on CTRL, ALT, BOOKS!
Midwest Book Review: Small Press Shelf
A deftly crafted and compelling read from beginning to end, "The Year of Loving" clearly showcases author Traci Slatton's genuine flair for storytelling. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary Romance & General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Year of Loving" is also available in a Kindle format ($4.99).
Small Press Bookwatch on Midwest Book Reviews
Mrs. Mommy Booknerd
Romance, friendship, betrayal
This book is a realistic romance that will have you guessing and touches on many areas...love, motherhood, life, struggle, romance, friendship, betrayal and so much more. The main character is raw and harsh, but also funny and smart. This book is one that romance readers will certainly enjoy.
Emily on Mrs. Mommy Booknerd
Night Owl Reviews
Gritty and Painful. And happy and funny
Sarah's life is a mess. Anything and everything that could go wrong does. Her relationship with her daughters is terrible and getting worse. Her Ex husband is constantly making her life hell, through whatever means necessary. Her best friend is fighting cancer and struggling, which means Sarah cannot unload her woes on her friend like she used to. Now she has not one man to work through love with but two. And to top it off, her dream, being a gallery owner, seems to be crumbling too.
The rawness of this story pulls at your heart and fills you with so many conflicting emotions. Her first ex-husband, and the father of her children is such a hateful and petty man. The way he turns the children against her and lets them do whatever harmful thing they want makes me want to strangle him. I would think his current wife would get tired of all the court cases and BS but she seems to be of the same ilk as he is. The second husband doesn't seem too bad, just a little narcissistic and immature--Pretty much a perfect rebound guy, but not great husband material. It does sound like he has an awesome talent which leads me to believe that he will be going places.
The struggle with the daughters is heartbreaking. I'm not sure how things will end there but, I felt bad when Sarah tried so hard with no positive response.
One thing about her best friend struggling with stage four cancer is that Sarah has to become even stronger and more independent. Although she has been struggling against the world every since her parents died, for a long while she was able to lean on her sister from another mother for strength. Now she has to be the strong one and muddle through on her own.
And finally the men. Both have great qualities that appeal to both Sarah and the reader. Both are handsome, nice, smart and interesting (and a very fun diversion). It would definitely be a struggle to choose one. One has patience, stability, experience, time and a loving family. And one is smart, fun and creative but has a mess of his own and very little time. But his heart speaks to hers much louder.
As always, I enjoy when the characters are flawed and make mistakes like the rest of us. The protagonist, Sarah, has had quite a few doosies in her life and will probably make more, although she does grow and become a better version of herself throughout the pages. Dr. Scott kind of irked me a few times with his assumptions and favors. Both exes and her friend had moments of less than stellar behavior (especially the previously mentioned ex) and at least one daughter is a slow train wreck. Most of them have their redeeming and likable qualities but struggle with something that is tearing them down and hopefully building them back up.
This story is gritty and painful. And happy and funny. It has a wide spectrum of feelings to carry you through Sarah's story.
HCHarju on Night Owl Reviews