July 20, 2015

Book Review: Love Always, Kate (Love Always #1) by D. Nichole King

Love Always, Kate (Love Always, #1)
Rating:  (4.5)/5

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I dove into this book without any information beforehand about what this book would be about. It’s not the first time I did this, though, but this time this book surprised me because it went so far away with what I imagined. I picked up the kindle of this book on Amazon only because of the cover and the intriguing title. I just thought it’d be some YA contemporary romance ―which generally my favorite kind of genre with light sweet story and nice HEA. What I didn’t expect was to find a tear-jerking story of a girl in the mid of fighting her deadly illness who met a boy with emotional issue from big loss in the past. Two broken souls trying mend each other. One of them taught that life is worth fighting for even if it’s for such a selfish reason. The other taught that death is not the end of one’s connection with someone that gone away, definitely not the end of every chemistry built between them.
“I wanna see the sun rise with you every morning for the rest of my life.”
(Chapter XXVII; Love Always, Kate)
Kate Browdy, cancer survivor, had been diagnosed again with new round of cancer for the third time. After the same-old reaction from her and both parents, Kate was back to the same-old cycle with same-old routine: chemo and the whole treatments. This time she was way more prepared, though, she went out to buy a blank journal that would soon be filled with entries of her long long way going through this despicable journey of hers. Apparently, this time was also different. This time a boy appeared on her war zone, waving a flag. Not the white one, but the red one that ignited a fire within her soul. Or it seemed so.
‘Is it too much to hope that maybe, just maybe he could look past the cancer and see me?’ 
(Chapter II; Love Always, Kate)
Damian Lowell lost his mom and big brother to a tragic accident which left him broken and undone. His dad was on the same state that it’s kind of hard to present wholly, emotionally for him. Damian and his dad often got into arguments which lead to drunken Damian and frustrated Dr. Lowell. This circumstance left him to deal with his own way of grieving involving alcohol. He often got drunk and when things got too worse, he even did a lot of unpleasant thing that got him expelled twice for his irresponsible behaviors. He lived such a reckless life, until the day he stumbled into that door by fate. The door that led a way to a girl called Kate.
‘“I admire you. You’re strong.”
I was strong because cancer is resolute, and I didn’t want the beast to win.’
(Chapter III; Love Always, Kate)
On the first encounter, Kate felt like Damian had shown a light to her hopeless life. In return, Damian felt attracted to Kate for her spirit of fighting cancer and her calmness in facing such tragic and cruel fate. They hung out together and soon, with all their lacks and matches, they fell in love with each other. Slowly and deeply.
‘Pain, even though it hurt, made us stronger― if it didn’t destroy us first.’ 
(Chapter V; Love Always, Kate)
It was not a fairy tale story, the path that lay in front of Damian and Kate. It’s not simply a girl and a boy fall in love, together conquer every barrier with the power of their love, and live happily ever after. Kate’s cancer was getting worse day by day. And Damian’s emotional was sometimes still gone bad. But after all, the cliché about power of love might not a fiction to sugarcoat a romance story. It might happen to them.
‘Pain has a purpose, it makes us stronger. More compassionate. Able to love more deeply than we thought possible. If we let it, it makes us better people.’
(Chapter XXXII; Love Always, Kate)
Together, Kate and Damian healed each other. Kate showed Damian different way to deal with grief. Damian made Kate realized that for once in her life, she might not want to hesitate fighting for her life; that she wanted so badly to be a normal teenager with normal life.
‘There’s never enough time to see good-bye. Never enough time to say, “I love you.” Never enough time to let go. I could have been given a thousand years with Damian, and still not be able to do this.’
(Chapter XXV; Love Always, Kate)
When for the first time in their life, they thought they finally found a healing to their long wound. The lost feeling of Damian. The hopeless feeling of Kate. But fate chose this moment to give them one last important lesson of loving someone for real: you don’t always need a happy end to feel the best kind of love, because what’s best isn’t how it ends, it’s how you feel in the moment, how you feel for each other during the time you spend together. How you grow up together, change each other to better ways, and learn just what exactly being in love is: it’s a mixture of hectic and calmness, happiness and sadness, start and end, found and lost.
‘Being strong means allowing yourself to cry over the things you can’t change; laugh when things are funny; smile when you’re happy. It means understanding where your breaking point is, and yet, going further and still remaining whole. Strong people push themselves to the limits of pain and joy. They fall to their knees in agony, then they lift up their faces to find the beautiful morning rays shining down on them, and they rise to their feet. Being strong means never giving up, no matter how crushed you are, and finding happiness in the smallest parts of life.’
(Chapter XXXII; Love Always, Kate)
It was like a roller coaster ride with this book. I don’t remember how many times I cried nor do I remember on which chapter it happened exactly. I think I read it in one sitting and became a blubbering mess after I close the last page.
I read a lot of books before which main character diagnosed with cancer. The feeling is always different on each book. With a fast-paced plot, Love Always, Kate goes in YA genre with hero/heroine around 17 years old. I personally think that Ms. King succeeded in presenting the plot through 17 years old teenager’s eyes. Both main characters’ behaviors show exactly how teenagers would act like in real life. They don’t necessarily go all ‘old-soul’ in words just to strengthen the emotional of the story. I like it that Kate, being a 17 years old girl still think of things like crushing on a boy and worrying about her look as real problems aside her terminal illness. Kate is funny, so high-spirited, care so much for everyone around her, but what I love the most is her determination to make Damian a better person. I love how her parents deal with Kate. Unlike most fictional parents with cancer kids who sometimes choose to detach or even go all too protective which might come out annoying, Kate’s parents treat Kate very well. They’re protective but not too much; they fall apart but hold on strongly to each other for her. It’s always a relief to see parents who do their jobs perfectly.
In other side, I feel a little frustrated for Damian’s character. I understand where he comes from; I feel so so bad for him. But when he projects his frustration to the wrong person, it’s disappointing, really. I could partly blame Damian’s dad for his condition. He might be a good doctor but he’s not a good father apparently. But Damian also takes the blame for the rest of it. When Damian falls for Kate, it’s so good to see him changes. I feel like crying all day when seeing how far he wants to go for her. I feel so touched by his love for her. I just dislike it when his moment comes out.
The ending is heartbreaking. Somehow I know just how it would end but along the way I built up hopes… Ms. King wraps the story up in a way so the readers could accept it well. I love how she creates Kate’s character so good until the end. I think I cried harder on the last chapter…
I’m going to read the second book for I am so damn curious on how Damian’s life goes on. I read bit and pieces of reviews about the sequel and well… I kind of regret it, though, lol. Hopefully I could find something that would make me fall in love with Damian the way I fall in love with Kate.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.


  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful review!

    1. You're welcome! Guess it'll be my latest fave series! :)