4 out of 4 stars
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"I suppose your mother didn't tell you not to take up with strange men you meet randomly in cafés."
Julia is a thrill-seeker, a woman who follows the scent of adventure. The prospect of having an exciting encounter with a stranger brings her to the small café in Montana. As luck would have it, she spots an individual who exceeds her expectations—a perfect specimen. While he seems standoffish at first, Julia hopes this delectable man reciprocates her admiration.
Alex is no stranger to the intoxicating effects he has on women; he is approachable, yet unattainable. An incorrigible flirt, yet he is frustratingly mysterious—all things that drive Julia crazy with lust. Every time Julia thinks she is making some headway with Alex, his impenetrable walls go back up. Julia views his frigid disposition as something that needs fixing, and she is intent on stealing his heart. Still, he is set on keeping her at arm's length. Alex has a dark secret that he must keep buried, but it's becoming challenging to abstain from acting upon his abominable urges.
Her Eyes Underwater by Romona Simon is a dark romantic book wrapped in an ominous bow. The author's penchant for descriptive language paints a beautiful picture—bursting with imagination and rife with character development. The book is written from the third-person perspective; the gripping story follows Julia but switches to Alex as the events begin to unfold. This masterpiece explores the all-encompassing obsession that drives Julia to recklessly pursue Alex and turn a blind eye to his unsettling behavior.
Upon reading the first few pages, the thing that instantly captured my heart was the author's talent for arranging words in such a way that they ignited my imagination; I could easily visualize the scenes as they unfolded. The writing enabled me to conjure up realistic images, particularly when describing the setting and the characters' outward appearance. One of my favorite examples of this is when the author describes one of Julia and Alex's first encounters. She wrote, "It was a cool, misty day, the kind where rain seemed to produce steam when it hit the earth. The world was cast in varying shades of grey and green except for him...except for his eyes, which protruded from the backdrop like cobalt bullets cutting through the clouds."
Besides the author's way with words, I was thoroughly impressed by the development of the main characters. Watching Julia's crush blossom into infatuation bordered on insanity, and it was like a train wreck that I couldn't peel my eyes away from. Alex's reservations about spending time with her drew out the abrasiveness in her personality. His character was complex. On the one hand, he was highly charismatic, and people were drawn to him, but on the other hand, there was something vile and extremely disconcerting about some of the thoughts he expressed. The chapters from Alex's perspective were chilling—often sending shivers down my spine.
The only flaw about Her Eyes Underwater was the abruptness of the ending. The book steadily built momentum, which set the tone for an unforgettable finale. Still, it didn't play out the way that I expected. Don't get me wrong, it was good, but not great and I felt something was missing. Thankfully, it wasn't enough to deduct a star, and I still chose to give the book a rating of four out of four stars. There were very few errors, and the book was obviously professionally edited.
This book was so enrapturing that I did nothing for two days but read it to its entirety. The characters struck a chord with me, and I continued to contemplate their choices days after finishing the story. For fans of character-driven books that are infused with horror undertones, this book is for you.
Due to the graphic nature of the book, I would not recommend it to young readers, or anyone triggered by extreme violence. Some particularly nauseating sex scenes are sinister in nature, so please take caution when reading.
Her Eyes Underwater
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