4 stars · Angsty/Emotional · Contemporary Romance · Healing · Sizzler · Tear Jerkers

The Hard Truth About Sunshine by Sawyer Bennett

The Hard Truth About Sunshine Book Cover The Hard Truth About Sunshine
Sawyer Bennett
Fiction, Contemporary Romance
March 28th 2017

New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett has written her most gripping and poignant tale yet. Provocatively heart-breaking, audaciously irreverent and romantically fulfilling, The Hard Truth About Sunshine exposes just how very thin the line is between a full life and an empty existence.

An angry, bitter amputee.
An optimist losing her eyesight.
A dying kid.
A suicidal thief.
Four people with nothing in common but their destination.

Despite having narrowly escaped death’s clutches, Christopher Barlow is grateful for nothing. His capacity to love has been crushed. He hates everyone and everything, completely unable to see past the gray stain of misery that coats his perception of the world. It’s only after he involuntarily joins a band of depressed misfits who are struggling to overcome their own problems, does Christopher start to re-evaluate his lot in life.
What could they possibly learn from one another? How could they possibly help each other to heal? And the question that Christopher asks himself over and over again… can he learn to love again?
He’s about to find out as he embarks upon a cross country trip with a beautiful woman who is going blind, a boy with terminal cancer, and an abuse victim who can’t decide whether she wants to live or die.
They will encounter adventure, thrills, loss and love.
And within their travels they will learn the greatest lesson of all.
The hard truth about sunshine…

Warning: This book deals with some tough issues including suicide and sexual abuse.

 ARIANNA’s review

If you are looking for a story that will sweep you away, one that will touch your heart and soul, then this is the book for you! Sawyer’s newest release is more than wonderful. It’s a story that will make you feel and reflect, it’s a story that will touch you deeply and make you smile, laugh and cry. ‘The Hard Truth About Sunshine’ is, without a doubt, very different from this author’s other contemporary romances. However, in my honest opinion, it’s the most wonderful story she’s ever written so far. Poignant, though-provoking and so very heartfelt, this story about life, friendship, hope and love totally captured my heart from the very first page with its unique story-line, its emotional message and its vividly portrayed characters.

“We are all alone and that’s the truth. I know this because I can’t begin to remember all the times I called out to God to ease my suffering, but the pain only got worse.”

Christopher’s life changes irremediably when he gets hit with an IED and loses one of his legs and a couple of fingers. But he actually loses more than that – he loses his girlfriend, his faith in people and his honor. Christopher is angry and bitter and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him. He’s a jerk with anyone who dares to cross his path and he truly believes he’s a man who cannot be redeemed. Certain circumstances make Christopher join a support group for people suffering from traumatic stress and depression. He doesn’t want to be in this group, but sadly, he doesn’t have a choice. He meets three people who, at first, he thinks have anything in common with him, three individuals who have their own issues and fears. Jillian is a sheltered girl who gradually is losing her eyesight. Despite her illness, she’s not depressed or suicidal. She knows she can’t do anything about it, so she has accepted her fate a long time ago. Barb is a broken girl. Sexually abused by her uncle, she doesn’t know if she wants to live or die. She’s bitter and angry at the world and, like Christopher, she doesn’t want to be part of the therapy group. The fourth misfit in the group is Connor, a terminally ill teenager who has just only a few months to live.

While Jillian and Connor want to be in this therapy group and try to properly communicate with the others and also help each other, Christopher and Barb don’t look forward to their therapy sessions. The dynamic between all of them starts to change when their counselor suggests for them to go on a road trip. Forced to spend hours and hours together, all of them discover some things about themselves and about the others.

“Each of us here,” (…) “Each one of us hates our life. It’s a burden to us. It’s unfair. It’s nothing but misery and torment, and we’re pissed we’re the ones who have to suffer it. Maybe not to the same degree, and not for the same reasons, but it’s the absolute tie that binds every one of us.”

This is such a unique, wonderfully written story. It’s raw and honest, beautiful and at times romantic, at times sad.  However, you have to know it’s filled with many sweet, funny, hopeful moments. Needless to say, it’s both heart-breaking and heart-warming and the author balanced everything in such a fantastic way. While the story deals with heavy subjects, it wasn’t for one moment too heavy or depressing…at least to me. The story-line is compelling, meaningful and touched me deeply. These characters’ journey is filled with pain, but also friendship, love and even hope. Each one of them has his own story and my heart broke for all four of them. While their stories are different, these four characters have something in common – each one of them found out how unfair life can be.

“You’re a cup-half-full kind of girl… I’m a cup-half-empty kind of guy… You put us both together and we’re full.”

The entire story is told from Christopher’s POV and, surprisingly, I loved it this way. Christopher is a multi-layered character I felt deeply about. However, I have to say that he annoyed me at times like no other. He’s bitter, angry and a real jerk, but I really sympathized with him. He’s damaged and lost and the only way he can deal with his pain is acting like a douche. Since he lost fate in everything and everyone, he wants everyone to feel as bad as him. But his bitter façade starts to crumble soon after he gets to know the other members of the group. Even if Jillian is the one who intrigues him the most, because he’s attracted to her and also because he doesn’t understand how she can stay so positive, he eventually warms up to the others as well.

Even if the romance aspect in this book is subtle and takes a back seat to the personal journey these characters take, the author did a wonderful job portraying the relationship between Christopher and Jillian. I loved the dynamic between them and I loved the sweet, heartwarming moments they shared. They are so cute and great for each other. I also loved how Christopher’s attitude changed towards Connor and Barb as the story unfolded. As he starts to get to know them, he realizes they are as lost as him, that they are human and that they have feelings.

“Jillian Martel has definitely made me want… want… For the first time, she just makes me want. Her. Sex. Laughter. Happiness. Brighter days.”

Jillian is a wonderful character. She’s a breath of fresh air. She’s kind, sweet, bright, hopeful and she has a big heart. She’s thoughtful and considerate and I liked how she figured out from the start some things about Christopher and brought out the best in him. I loved her strength and tenacity and how she tried as best as she could to help the others. She was living life to the fullest and I loved that about her. The other two characters, Barb and Connor are great and unique as well. My heart ached for these two. I wanted to hug them and to erase their pasts so badly.

If you are looking for something touching and emotional, don’t hesitate to try this one. ‘The Hard Truth About Sunshine’ has a poignant message, it’s wonderfully written and it will make you feel from the beginning until the end.

“This trip is nothing like I thought it was going to be…”


About the Author:

Since the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released more than 30 books and has been featured on both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists on multiple occasions. 

A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone. 

Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active toddler, as well as full-time servant to two adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or a combination of the two.


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