Saying Goodbye Review and Giveaway!

Saying Goodbye: Part 1
Abigail Drake
(Passports and Promises #1)
Publication date: September 10th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary

Samantha Barnes always dreamed of seeing the world, and only has a few months left before she starts a semester abroad in Japan. Enough time to say goodbye to her friends, polish up her language skills, and maybe even squeeze in a quick fling with handsome fraternity boy Dylan Hunter.

All she wants from Dylan is something casual, and perhaps some mind-blowing sex, but things don’t work out as planned. Dylan wants a lot more from her than a hook-up. Before Sam realizes what’s happening, their relationship has become serious, something she never intended. And then she discovers Dylan is hiding a dark secret that makes breaking up with him nearly impossible.

Sam is running out of time. She has to leave soon. She has no choice. But leaving Dylan could mean more than just the end of their relationship. It could also mean destroying him completely.

Goodreads / Amazon

Saying Goodbye: Part 2
Abigail Drake
(Passports and Promises #1)
Publication date: September 10th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary

What if you meet the right person…at absolutely the wrong time?

When Samantha Barnes starts her semester abroad in Japan, she brings along a heavy load of emotional baggage. With her ex-boyfriend in the midst of a mental health crisis back home, she’d been forced to make some difficult choices, choices that now fill her with guilt and remorse. She also made promises to him she isn’t sure she can keep, especially when she meets Thomas MacGregor, an irresistibly charming Scottish rugby player. Thomas is studying at the same university as Samantha, and, although she tries to fight it, she begins to fall for him. Hard.

Life in Kyoto is everything Samantha could imagine, but, when tragedy strikes, it sends her on a downward spiral into darkness. Will she be able to come to terms with what happened, and have a future with Thomas, or will she forever be plagued by regret?

Forgiveness is a tricky thing, especially when the person you need to forgive most is yourself.

Goodreads / Amazon


As you can see from the above blurbs, Saying Goodbye consists of two parts. In the first part, we are introduced to Samantha Barnes, who initially comes across as a very strong, supportive, loyal friend who stops her best friend from drunkenly losing her virginity on top of a washing machine. That Samantha, however, disappears rapidly through the course of the novel and becomes a bit self-absorbed.

The first novel attempts to deal with some extremely serious issues such as mental illness and fraternity rape culture. But since these novels are told in first person, the issues are filtered by Sam who seems focused on her sensory pleasures: drinking and sex. Unfortunately, she has no qualms about leading Dylan on, replying to his “I love you” with one of her own, which she doesn’t mean. She accepts expensive dates and expensive gifts from him with little show of conscience. She lacks the maturity to talk to him and when he breaks it off with her after finding out that she didn’t care about him, she gets drunk and makes out with her ex-.

In the second part, Sam is off to Japan for a semester, but she obsesses over Dylan, until she starts obsessing over Thomas, a Scottish Rugby player who is also at the same school as Sam.

Part two is more engaging than part one, mainly because the environment has changed and the reader is learning a bit about Japanese life and culture. While the first part may have dealt with the issues of mental illness and rape, the second is focused, in part, on the sex trade in Japan. Sam, unsurprisingly want to see the seedier side of Japan.

In both novels, I liked the peripheral characters far more than Sam, who was frequently unreasonable (in mirror instances in both novels she became angry at both Dylan and Thomas for things they had nothing to do with) and self-absorbed. Her reaction to the struggles of other people seemed to revolve around how it affected her. Dylan seemed kind and was always trying to do things to impress Sam. Thomas, also, is generous and funny. Sam’s girlfriends all seemed far more grounded than Sam, even as they were going through their own pains.

One prickly point. For this reader, who has done a lot of reading and thinking about mental health and suicide in the past year, to read these words: “it wasn’t the illness that killed him, and it made him seem like a coward. He’d killed himself. He took his life.” more than raised my hackles because no one who’s ever been around a seriously depressed person would utter those words. To be in a dark chasm of depression makes suicide not seem like a choice. Mental illness can be as painful as a physical disease and in some abhorrent ways even more so.

The writing is basically good, better in the second part than in the first where the author seemed to want to share the world of Japan with the reader. I very much liked the scenes with Mr. Ando, who provided a much needed spirituality and wisdom.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

rating for both parts: 3-but



Author Bio:

Abigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy. Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.

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