The Year I Left by Christine BraeCarin Frost doesn’t understand what’s happening to her.

A confident businesswoman, wife, and mother, she begins to resent everything about her life. Nothing makes sense. Nothing makes her feel.

Maybe it’s the recent loss of her mother in a tragic accident. Or maybe she’s just losing her mind.

Enter Matias Torres.

As their new business partnership thrives, so does their friendship – and his interest in her. Carin is determined to keep her distance, until a work assignment sends them to Southeast Asia where a storm is brewing on the island.

In the midst of the chaos, Matias asks her to do something unimaginable, exhilarating, BOLD. Carin knows the consequences could be dire, but it may be the only way to save herself.

An honest look at love and marriage and the frailties of the human heart, this is a story of a woman’s loss of self and purpose and the journey she takes to find her way back. (Goodreads)

Title:  The Year I Left
Author:  Christine Brae
Release Date:  August 20, 2019
Publisher:  Vesuvian Books
Source:  review copy received from Meryl Moss Media


Carin is one of those women who seem to have it all: a successful career, loving husband, sweet child, nice house, even an adorable dog!

But something isn’t right.

She knows that something is wrong, but isn’t sure what.

Carin is sleeping too much, not paying the bills, pretty much indifferent to anything outside of work.

She says that her son Charlie is the only thing keeping her going, but seems to be neglecting him as well.

It sounds like depression, especially since her mother died not that long ago. And more than one loved one mentions depression as a possibility, but Carin doesn’t follow up on it or seek professional help of any kind.

Then there’s Matias Torres, a new business partner who just happens to be attractive and charming.

Working closely together on a new deal, Carin and Matias become friends.

Maybe more than friends?

But she’s married with a son and he, Carin is surprised to discover, is engaged. So she pushes him away. Avoids him at work. And seems to get a secret thrill out of his persistent pursuit.

Then comes the Asia trip, for the big business deal. Where the unimaginable, exhilarating, bold something happens (says so in the synopsis, so no spoilers).

That’s when the story lost me.

Up until this point, I was sympathetic to Carin. She felt lost after the sudden death of her mother and never gave herself time to properly grieve. Understandable that she wasn’t feeling herself.

Then she suffers another loss. Just how much is one woman supposed to take?

Her husband Jack didn’t seem very supportive. He seemed to be in some sort of denial about what she was going through, but does try to reach out a few times.

You can relate to their struggle.

Then Asia happened and I lost all sympathy for Carin.

I didn’t see this as an “honest look at love and marriage and the frailties of the human heart” that the synopsis mentions. I saw it as incredibly irresponsible and selfish actions by two self-centered people.

No magic.

No romantic journey.

Honestly? It made me a little angry.

Yes, it can be viewed as “a story of a woman’s loss of self and purpose and the journey she takes to find her way back” but, in my opinion, the journey sucked.

I simply couldn’t get past the Asia decision and the more I read, the less I liked Carin.

I also found the narration a bit odd, as Carin is telling the story as if she’s writing a letter to someone. Instead of the usual ‘he said’ it was ‘you said’, which took a little getting used to.

We find out later that Carin was keeping a journal, so maybe this book is her journal? If this was pointed out during the story, I missed it.

While Carin is the main narrator for the majority of the book, we do hear from Matias at the end. It would’ve been nice to have them alternate chapters so we could see things from both points of view, but guess that wouldn’t make sense if this was in fact Carin’s journal.

There were a few small continuity issues which bothered me for some reason. Little things like someone standing up and walking a few feet away, then a few sentences later, they stand up to walk away again.

I can usually ignore these type of errors, but maybe they annoyed me this time around because I was so annoyed with Carin?

Don’t get me wrong, the writing is lovely and the descriptions of the scenery make us feel like we’re right there with them. You can tell that Brae is very talented. I just didn’t like her characters, and I need to like at least one character.

While this story ultimately wasn’t my cup of tea, I can see how some readers would find it romantic or inspiring. I just couldn’t get past that one incident, which spoiled the whole book for me.

About the Author:

Christine Brae

Christine Brae was born and raised in the city of Makati, Philippines before she met and married her best friend who whisked her away to Chicago over twenty years ago.

Christine is a full time career woman who thought she could write a book about her life (The Light in the Wound, 2013) and then run away as far as possible from it.

She never imagined that her words would touch the hearts of so many women with the same story to tell. Her second book, His Wounded Light was released in December, 2013.

Christine’s third book, Insipid, is a standalone that was released in June, 2014, and her fourth book, In This Life, released in January 2016. Eight Goodbyes is scheduled to be released in August, 2018.

When not listening to the voices in her head or spending late nights at the office, Christine can be seen shopping for shoes and purses, running a half marathon or spending time with her husband and three children in Chicago. (website)

Where to find Christine:  Facebook | Twitter | Website | Instagram | Spotify

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