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Reviewed by Natasha Jackson for Readers' Favorite
This Time for Keeps is an intense character study about healing and forgiveness, and how they sometimes go hand in hand. Dr. Isabelle DiStefano was the victim of a violent attack at the clinic where she volunteers, but the attack has left Isabelle struggling. She isn’t sure if her injuries will allow her to continue practising obstetrics or gynecology, which leaves her feeling afraid, depressed, and in a constant state of anxiety. Luca Santoro met Isabelle before the attack at the wedding of mutual friends and that night culminated into one of those passionate and exhilarating experiences of his life. After finding out that Isabelle was, in fact, a career woman rather than a party girl, the once-burned Luca ends their holiday romance. Years later, Luca runs into the woman whose heart he broke, finding the flame still there, and he decides he wants a second chance. Jill Blake does a fantastic job of giving us an in-depth portrait of who Isabelle and Luca were before her accident so we have an accurate picture of who they are today, in the aftermath of the violence and heartache.
One of the things Jill Blake does so perfectly in This Time for Keeps is write Isabelle’s anxiety and nightmares so palpably that I found my own heart racing in tandem. It is a great way to not only build empathy for her, but adds to the emotional impact of this story. While it is easy to understand why Luca behaved the way he did, it was still reprehensible and I’m glad Isabelle made him work for it…well, mostly. Blake created a truly amazing character in Isabelle, making this devastating story a tremendously powerful read that will leave you with a smile on your face.