The Annealing of Aliza Bennett

Romance - Contemporary
324 Pages
Reviewed on 09/15/2018
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Author Biography

Emma Hartley is an author and artist living in picturesque Maine. She has been writing and making art since childhood and has been insatiably curious and industrious her whole life. Emma was a double major in English and Fine Arts and holds a Masters in Art and Design Education. This devotion to art is apparent in her in her novels, manifesting itself in the work her characters enjoy. Emma’s other interests include playing drums in an indie rock band, gardening, and exploring every square inch of the Maine coastline. The Annealing of Aliza Bennett is her second novel.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite

From page one, the reader discovers this is not a typical romantic novel. Annealing is not a common word in the English language, and the author includes the definition: to heat and cool (as steel or glass) usually for softening and making less brittle; to strengthen, toughen. Aliza Bennett is a 22-year-old actress, who has already lived a difficult life. She, along with Jesse Black, are the costars of a new prime time drama. The filming takes place in Twin Falls, a small idyllic New England town, the opposite of their Los Angeles homes. Aliza is strong and feisty, with a troubling past that has followed her from LA. As she and Jesse forge a loving relationship, her abusive ex-boyfriend becomes a major threat. Author Emma Hartley has written a complex and thought-provoking novel in The Annealing of Aliza Bennett.

The story is mostly relayed through in-depth, serious conversations between the two main characters, Jesse and Aliza. Jesse perceives Aliza’s inner turmoil quickly and soon forms a protective, devoted connection with her. Other characters in the plot include Rudy, the supportive director; Michelle, the insightful makeup artist; Jesse’s affectionate mother and grandmother; and Cameron, the domineering ex-boyfriend. The writing style is easy to read and informative – for example, the explanation and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder is accurate and understandable to any reader. The Annealing of Aliza Bennett by Emma Hartley is a wonderful book for someone who enjoys a fascinating exploration of a budding committed relationship. The title itself is fascinating indeed!

Ankita Shukla

The Annealing of Aliza Bennett is the most accurate title for this romantic tale by Emma Hartley. Aliza Bennett had a troubled childhood and a horrible experience with her abusive ex-boyfriend. To say that both these factors scarred her would not be an exaggeration. She suffered deeply, and as a result she built huge walls around her heart. She didn't even know how much of a terrible hold her past still had on her. That's why when Jesse Black entered her life with an open expression of his affection towards her, she remained unmoved. Her trust issues ensured that she would stay far away from experiencing what real love feels like. Aliza Bennett and Jesse Black met for the first time in a very small town named Twin Falls. As both of them were LA people, the idea of spending their time in such a small town seemed very unreal and bizarre to them, mostly for Jesse. Nevertheless, their project, a new TV series, had to be shot in Twin Falls, so, willingly or otherwise, they had to be there for as long as the shooting would last. Unaware of Aliza's past, Jesse fell head over heels for her and was determined to be a part of her life. Aliza, on the other hand, could not ignore Jesse's good looks but was almost stubborn in her decision to stay away from him.

The Annealing of Aliza Bennett by Emma Hartley is more than just a romantic story. It has an abundance of life wisdom and lessons. The author's passion for jewelry making is evident throughout the read. The correlation of the jewelry-making process and life's various aspects is beautifully established at the beginning of each chapter. The metaphor of annealing the metal with the transformation of Aliza's personality is almost poetic. The author's take on an abusive relationship is absolutely hard to miss. It has been observed that the victims of such cases tend to blame themselves for being mistreated by their partner, which is not just wrong, it's demeaning. Aliza is no exception to this tendency. She blames herself for being abused by her ex-boyfriend. The in-depth portrayal of her emotions is extremely touching. I would recommend this book to romance lovers, abusive relationship survivors, and jewelry makers. Reading The Annealing of Aliza Bennett is a beautiful experience.

K.C. Finn

The Annealing of Aliza Bennett is a complex contemporary romance by author Emma Hartley, written for adults. The title character of the story is a deeply emotional woman with a difficult past. Actress Aliza has suffered an abusive relationship that takes her self-esteem problems to a whole new level, so she moves to the other side of the States in order to work in peace and work out her issues. Unfortunately, a new relationship comes knocking in the form of sexy co-star Jesse Black. Despite her reservations, things begin to progress, but an unwelcome blast from the past and Aliza’s own inner demons threaten to ruin this romance before it’s even begun.

One of the things I really liked about this novel is that Emma Hartley doesn’t shy away from the serious subject matter of surviving an abusive partner. This is by no means a fluffy romance story with an irksome ex, but an emotional maelstrom that Aliza has to work through in order to find happiness with herself and with others. Jesse is, at first, your typical romantic lead, but the journey that Hartley takes her readers on goes deep below the surface of the nature of love, trust and what it takes to really make it as a couple. Readers looking for a more complex story with characters they can really root for are certain to be satisfied. Overall, The Annealing of Aliza Bennett is a 'pull no punches' drama brimming with both romance and realism.