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Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite
Breathless by Jessica Bayliss is a short novel/story with a paranormal theme. Leah is on a diving holiday in the Caribbean, looking for closure and resolution after the death of her twin brother, Evan. She escapes death herself: scuba diving instructor Dale comes to her aid when her oxygen runs out whilst taking part in a group dive to explore the wreck of HMS Rhone. Leah and Dale are attracted to each other and the two discover they have much in common – Dale’s time in Afghanistan has left him with the need to find a peace of his own. Then the two find they have something else in common – have unseen “ghosts” caused their paths to cross?
This little book is beautifully written with a well thought out plot. At the start of the story, Jessica Bayliss conveys the feeling of horror and panic experienced by Leah under water very well – this hooks the reader, drawing us right into the world of the main character. The author’s own experience with diving means she writes here with added authenticity. The different scenes are described with vivid imagery and detail. The characters of Leah and Dale are warm, genuine and very believable – both with secrets and motivations that make them intriguing and likable. I like the way the truth about Dale is not revealed until near the end of the story, giving it a little twist in its satisfying and hopeful ending. Breathless is a great story, exploring the human soul’s emotional needs with insight and an exciting touch of mystery and the paranormal. Perfect for a quick and enjoyable read.