REVIEW – A Life More Complete by Nikki Young

A Life More Complete

Damaged females make for great novel heroines. They just do. They have all the issues that it takes to wrap a decent plot around. Well…meet Krissy.

Which brings me to my mother. I give her credit. She left her husband, my father, an emotionally and physically abusive alcoholic drug addict when I was eight. She took my two sisters and me in the dead of night and ran. Cowardly, but that was all she knew, and when I ran at age eighteen, I did it because it was the only coping mechanism I had been taught. Run from your problems, from your past, from your life, and maybe you’ll get lucky and it won’t follow you.

Krissy’s upbringing has been a hot mess of parental neglect. So, she ran far from Chicago’s suburbs to college in Southern California. She followed a boy there, of course. We’ll get to him in a minute, though.

We’re introduced first to Bennett Torres and his nearly lost dog, Roxy, after the dog chased Krissy on her daily run. Possibly one of the best Meet Cutes ever.

“Roxy, you bad girl! Don’t you ever run away again. I was so worried!” All along, Roxy was tilting her head in different directions as the inflection in his voice changed. Everything about this was endearing: this man on his knees, the way he spoke to the dog, the kindness and love he bequeathed upon her, and his genuine concern for her safety. My words pulled him from his reverie. They left my mouth before my brain could stop them.  “Your dog is adorable.” He glanced up at me, placing his hand on his forehead to shield his eyes from the sun. He paused for a brief moment, then a shy smile crossed his face and he responded lightly with, “You’re adorable.”

Krissy’s a little lost. A lot lost, actually, because she cannot just commit to this lovely man. He’s normal. She feels almost comfortable with him. Why can’t it work?

I wasn’t looking to fall in love. Nope, not me. Been there, done that and boy, oh, boy did the ending suck. I’m serious, ambitious, goal driven, at least that’s how I want to be perceived, but I know my view might be a little skewed. I’m the girl who wears white pants and assumes they won’t get dirty. I’m clumsy and silly, but long to be taken seriously. Yep, that’s me. A damn fool. With Ben it falls to pieces. I can only see him and the warmth that spreads through my body. He makes me laugh. He makes me smile. He makes me weak.

There’s another guy, right?  From last time where the ending sucked?  Yep…the one she followed to California. Her first love. Tyler. He’s back and now they’re working together, (she’s in PR, he’s an attorney) managing the misadventures of a Britney Spears-esque teen star in a self-destructive spiral.

There he is looking all business suit professional and oh God, so sexy I’m not sure I can handle it. I pause for a moment and the memories come flooding back like images flashed on a screen. The boy I fell in love with; I can see him so vividly, his crooked smile, the straight white teeth, the tousled curly blonde hair, the way he made my stomach feel every time he placed his hand in mine, his laugh, his flirtatious demeanor. There are no negative emotions only excitement and nervousness. I feel like I’m sixteen again. The memories make my heart hurt as it beats rapidly against my chest. Then he catches my gaze and smiles that perfect heart stopping smile and I feel like I might cry.

Isn’t love sweeter the second time around?  Tyler has arrived at just the right time for Krissy’s past to right itself, right? He’s changed, right?

Rounding out the cast of characters are Krissy’s best friends, Melinda, a California high maintenance trust fund princess, and Bob, her fantastic gay boyfriend. Her best friend from Chicago, Gia, is the living embodiment of normal, unconditional love. Her sisters, Rachel and Maizey, damaged in their own right, also play prominently into the story as Krissy is continually having to confront her Chicago past right along with them.

The writing was on the wall. I knew where this was probably going…and yet, I was compelled to follow along. The characters are well developed.  Krissy often makes infuriating choices, but you’ll root for her anyway. THIS is a hat tip to the author, because I HAD TO KNOW how this book resolved once I was a few chapters in.  The roller coaster had officially hit that point where you can’t get off and you’re about to hit the top of the hill before the inevitable first drop. All the emotions are building, building, building. Cue the dropping stomach from the free fall.

A LIFE MORE COMPLETE is quite a ride, too. I was wound pretty tight for the last quarter of this book. I assure you that this story resolves beautifully. The epilogue is one of the most satisfying I’ve read in a while. Krissy won’t leave your heart anytime soon, but you’ll be grateful you let her reside there in the first place.

5 stars

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