I am very rarely emotionally affected by a book, maybe 2 or 3 a year, if that. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of books, but to have my heart feel as though it is cracking is just something that doesn’t occur often; however, A.M. Johnson’s Sacred Hart completely crushed me in the best way an author can.
Ryan is recovering from an extreme loss that someone should never have to endure and the subsequent consequences to his reaction to said loss. From the get-go, even though his reaction is extreme, I completely understand his reaction and sympathize with him. I also completely understand his desire to disconnect from everyone in his past and find a new place to survive. Even though I understand his need to isolate himself from the world, I want to see him heal and get his happy ending. He is incredibly honest with Maggie and never pretends that he is able to heal from his tragic past, but he offers her what he can. Although withdrawn, Ryan is incredibly sweet and loving to everyone he encounters, and he deserves all the best that life can give him after what he has fought through. He has earned a place among my top heroes.
Maggie is the heroine of the story and mother to Beth, and her patience and understanding makes her a fantastic character. She never judges or attempts to fix Ryan. She loves him and understands him. Her unconditional acceptance of him allows him to achieve the redemption and healing he seeks. She is the glue of the story, and the characters in the story, I believe, would fall apart without her. This is why the reader’s heart breaks for her as the story progresses, but the strength she shows just makes me lover her more.
Their development as a couple truly exemplifies the healing power of love and family. The final chapters of this book, although sad, help illustrate the importance of family. Seeing Ryan interact with his family and honoring what he lost while making new memories is truly therapeutic for the reader and makes the reader okay with the sad but inevitable ending, because the characters truly live.
After finishing my fourth book by A.M. Johnson there are a couple things I know to be true:
- She can write emotionally flawed and complex characters who I love. They are flawed and real, and, although their stories are tragic, the characters achieve redemption and happiness at the end of her books.
- I adore her integration of music into her writing. I feel like she must take a considerable amount of time selecting songs to integrate into her stories, and I find myself downloading a ton of her selections after the book is over just so I can listen to them and remember these amazing characters she creates. I almost look forward to the playlist as much as the story.
- She gets to me emotionally like most authors can’t. I connect to her stories and her characters. I cry for them, root for them, and cheer for them the whole way through the book.
I cannot wait to see what she has in store next!
Sleep, it was luxury I didn’t have.
I could hear it then, in the dark light of night, in the dusky morning…
The click of the trigger, the smell of her blood, the sound of the rain.
I never thought I would see her again.
She was a ghost.
She was dead.
When Maggie Wright pushed her way into my life, she brought the phantom with her, and I was helpless to her pull.
Everything I had, all of it, had been taken from me ten years ago. I had nothing but the shirt on my back, the memories that still burned through my veins, and the regret I drowned in every day.
I am Ryan Hartford…and I have nothing left to lose.