Reviews Sustained by Emma Chase

When a friend first recommended “Sustained” by Emma Chase to me, insisting it was one of the funniest and most heartwarming books she’d read in ages, I was admittedly skeptical. As someone who typically gravitates towards dense literary fiction, I’ve never been particularly drawn to contemporary romance novels. But after hearing so much buzz about this book, my curiosity was piqued. Could a romance novel really be that good? Intrigued, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and give “Sustained” a chance. And I’m so incredibly glad I did, because this book ended up being one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had as a reader in a long time.

At the heart of the story is Jake Becker, a brilliant but arrogant defense attorney in Washington, D.C. who unapologetically enjoys his bachelor lifestyle. With his quick wit, good looks and aversion to commitment, Jake is the quintessential player you often see in romance novels. Normally, this type of character doesn’t appeal to me at all. However, what sets Jake apart is that the entire book is narrated from his perspective. Being inside Jake’s head, privy to his every unfiltered thought, is what really made this book come alive for me in a way I wasn’t expecting.

Jake’s world is turned completely upside down when he meets Chelsea McQuaid, a beautiful, kindhearted young woman who suddenly finds herself the sole guardian of her six orphaned nieces and nephews after a tragic accident. Watching a clueless Jake navigate the chaos of this instant family had me laughing out loud constantly. From disastrous trips to the grocery store to hilariously awkward Mommy and Me classes, Jake is a fish out of water in Chelsea’s world and his inner commentary is comedy gold. The six kids are the undisputed scene-stealers of the book, each with their own distinct personality quirks that lead to so many funny, memorable moments.

One scene that particularly stands out to me is when Jake volunteers to take all the kids to the grocery store, comparing the outing to a high-stakes covert military operation in his mind. His stream of consciousness as he tries to wrangle the kids and make it out of the store in one piece had me in stitches. But it’s not all laughs – there are also some surprisingly tender moments that showcase Jake’s gradual evolution, like when he comforts Chelsea’s heartbroken teenage nephew after a tough breakup. It’s the quieter scenes like this that really illuminate the subtle ways Jake starts to change and mature as a person.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a romance novel without a central love story, and the slow-burn development of feelings between Jake and Chelsea is immensely gratifying to witness. What starts as Jake merely offering to help Chelsea out of the hopes of getting her into bed, slowly morphs into genuine caring and attachment the more time he spends with her and the kids. I really appreciated that their connection felt authentic and earned rather than superficial or purely based on physical attraction. That’s not to say the book is lacking in steam – the love scenes are exceptionally well-crafted and pulse-quickening. But they enhance the emotional story rather than overshadowing it.

From a technical standpoint, I was consistently impressed by Emma Chase’s writing throughout the novel. The book is impeccably paced, with each chapter leaving you eager to immediately dive into the next. If I had to nitpick, I’d say the momentum lags ever so slightly in the second half when Jake and Chelsea are temporarily separated due to a misunderstanding and ensuing crisis of faith in their relationship. I found myself getting a bit impatient with the will-they-won’t-they of it all. However, the emotional catharsis and sense of coming full circle you feel when they finally reunite and express their true feelings more than makes up for any fleeting frustration.

Perhaps the greatest strength of Chase’s writing is her ability to craft such a convincing, charming and complex male point of view. Jake’s narrative voice always rings true and the author walks the line between cocky and endearing remarkably well. The dialogue is another standout, crackling with wit and banter. Many of Jake’s one-liners and quips had me laughing out loud and I found myself wanting to highlight multiple passages just so I could read them again later.

On a deeper level, “Sustained” has some beautifully poignant things to say about the true meaning of family, fatherhood and the transformative power of love. Through Chelsea and the kids, Jake comes to realize that opening himself up to caring for others is worth the inherent risk and vulnerability it brings. Watching his journey from self-centered bachelor to devoted family man is the real heart of the story. It’s a classic redemption arc that’s skillfully executed and leaves you feeling deeply satisfied by the last page.

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When I finally finished the book, I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to Jake, Chelsea and the lovable band of kids that make up their unconventional family unit. The story and its characters wormed their way into my heart in a way I truly wasn’t anticipating. “Sustained” is one of those special books that leaves you with a full heart, a permagrin on your face and the immediate urge to call up a friend and gush about the story you just experienced.

I would enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone looking for a romance that will make you laugh, swoon and possibly even shed a few cathartic tears. Don’t let the “playboy falls for a single mom” premise deter you – the story feels decidedly fresh and modern, with a hero you can’t help but root for with your whole heart. Even if contemporary romance isn’t typically your preferred genre, I’d encourage you to give “Sustained” a try. It just might surprise you like it did me. This is the kind of book that simply makes you feel good, and that’s a reading experience we can all benefit from having more of in our lives. “Sustained” has unequivocally made me an Emma Chase fan and I’m already eagerly anticipating losing myself in more of her work!

5/5 - (1 vote)

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