The Darkest Part is the first book in Trisha Wolfe's Living Heartwood Series. This is the first book that I have ever read by her, but it sounded really good so I couldn't wait to give it a shot. While I did enjoy parts of it, there were some things that didn't work for me. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I do think that it was different from other NA books out there, and part of that was that although it isn't a paranormal book it does have a paranormal sort of feel at times with what the main character is going through. While I am not a huge fan of the paranormal genre, it didn't bother me in this case.
After losing her fiance in a horrible accident, Sam has barely been surviving. She has withdrawn from everyone around her and prefers to spend time alone, as it is the only time when her fiance Tyler appears to her. While everyone around her believes that she is crazy, Sam believes that Tyler's ghost is there for a reason. Thinking that he will forever be trapped as a lost soul, Sam knows that she needs to help Tyler move on. She convinces his brother Holden to help her get some of Tyler's ashes to spread on a road trip that would have been her and Tyler's honeymoon. As Holden and Sam set out on the trip though, they quickly realize that the connection they once shared has never gone away. As Sam and Holden face their feelings and Sam's psychosis, they also begin to unravel the many secrets that Tyler and Holden had between them. Soon Sam begins to realize that Holden and Tyler had much more to their lives than she ever knew about, and she begins to question everything she thought she knew.
One of my biggest issues with this story was that I never felt like I could connect with the characters. Sam annoyed me for much of this book, and I thought that she was weak a lot of the time. Yes she had some mental things going on, but yet she knew exactly what was happening to her. She knew that the things she was experiencing weren't normal, and yet she preferred to stay in the dream world where Tyler still talked to her rather than to take her pills and try to move on with her life. She had let everything go that she seemed to love before, and she really was just a shell of her former self. Holden cared about Sam and Tyler that was obvious, yet he seemed to just give up easily at times without ever putting up a fight. He had given up Sam for his brother Tyler, and didn't even tell his brother how he truly felt. He lied about it and left. I also didn't like how all the secrets he kept about Tyler and things that he did never came out willingly. If he truly loved Sam as much as he said he had all those years, I have to wonder why he never thought that she deserved to know the truth about the man that she was going to spend her life with. While Holden and Sam did have a connection that she hadn't shared with Tyler, I felt like it wasn't really as strong as it should have been for the love they were proclaiming. These two hadn't really been together as kids, though they did have a very brief thing before he left her. Then they go on this trip after not having talked or spent time together in a very long time and they love each other? After she had been engaged to his brother and been in a relationship with him for years? I just didn't buy it and didn't see how it would have been so strong so quick. I did feel the tension and attraction between them, but their sexual chemistry was about the only thing I felt was really easy to believe at that point.
I will also say that my other big problem with this story was the back and forth. This book alternates POVs as well as shifts between the past and the present and I felt it was a bit confusing and disorienting at times. I like getting to see inside both of the main characters heads, but I felt like in this case there was just too much going on to keep straight. There had to have been a better way for the author to give us the information that we needed about the past and present without making the reader feel lost and trying to figure out where and when we were and which character's head we were inside. I do think that this story was good, if a bit slow at times, but I just wish that it had been arranged differently. I wanted to see more of a connection building between Holden and Sam, with less focus on her and even her relationship with Tyler. There was so much about Tyler that was revealed throughout the story, and I found the whole thing interesting. But I felt like Holden and Sam's connection with him got a bit lost in everything else. I will say that this was different than other NA books out there, and that it was worth the read. I am interested to read more in the series after meeting a few other characters in this book. I am hoping that they don't have the same issues as this one did though and that I am able to connect with those characters better.
**Review Copy Provided by AToMR Tours**