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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!