Book Review – Never Look Back by Lori Otto

by Maryse on February 20, 2013 · 14 comments

in My Book Reviews

Never Look Back: Book Three of the Emi Lost & Found series
QUICK NOTE: Okay I think I did this completely spoiler-free (even if it is the review for the 3rd and final book in this trilogy). I think anyone can read this… safely. BUT!! I still suggest skipping this review and just jumping into book #1 without any idea of what you’re in for, IF you are up for some serious emotional turmoil. If you are open and game to some intense drama… (in a super-sweet-series format). Hrmmm… Yeah… if you’re new to this series, skip this review. ;) and go here instead: Here’s my review of book #1 (Emi Lost and Found).

Oh and I must warn you… at some point… you just have to trust us. You’re going to say NO WAY. WHAT??? NO! (skip this following reader quote if you really don’t want to know anything at all when going into a series. Not that it says anything… but emotionally, you’ll have a good idea of what you’re in for):

Melissa: I just began reading book 2 of the Emi Lost and Found series….can I say OMG!!!!! I did NOT see that coming and I am devastated  We are talking sobbing for a good while. I had to take a break. I am about to dive right back in.

Just… keep reading. It’s all worth it in the end. What you thought… as you read the first installment… well, it’s bigger than that. Dare I say… better?

Okay… so now onto my review of this book:

Wow… that was incredibly emotional, and sweet. Sweet and bittersweet are the two words I would use to describe this series as a whole. And beautiful and a bit sappy but in a good way. After all… it is a love stories that spans three full length books. And I loved that. Nothing was rushed. Every step taken, analyzed, discussed, embraced and coddled. The cuddles were detailed, the insecurities, distressing and the blowups that followed, severe.

Yep! A great third installment to this trilogy, and just as intense, at times, as book #2. One step forward three steps back and at one point I could see the tears, and all I wanted to do was cry with them in a huddle.

“That vision will stay with me forever.” And – forgiven or not – so apparently, will this regret.

Ahhhh… *sniff sniff* See? Now, I wanna cuddle.

And… sometimes, I was so mad, too. But mostly… a loving kind of mad. I was hurting with both of them, for each of their own reasons. I “got” them both. Oh sure, she sometimes went overboard in her worries, over thinking everything and self-sabotaging in the process. But considering the circumstances… she was shell-shocked.

It was just about Emi. It was about her and her need not to escape the past, but to embrace the wonderful future we were going to have together. I had to convince her that it was okay to hold on to those elements of her past.

LOTS of “living” goes on. The regular daily stuff, along with the romance (and subsequent issues)… it was all there.

Annie: Lori Otto does a phenomenal job telling this story through the everyday events and ups and downs between people- marriages, christenings, family gatherings- you could see yourself being friends with the characters! Emi’s struggles with loss, grief, sorrow and joy are so real that my heart is still not quite right! Her second guessing her motives and heart’s desires really hit home. Who in their life hasn’t struggled with that?!?!?

True! Although at times, I found myself skimming some of the more routine moments (descriptions, light-hearted chatter, stuff like that). There was A LOT of it. It was as if the author lived every moment with her characters (even the commonplace stuff) and in turn, so did her readers. But the simple, easy moments allowed us relief from the underlying drama threatening to tear them apart. When it counted, the fact that the author didn’t skimp on detail, meant we FELT every emotion acutely. If you have the time to fall in love, live, agonize, love some more, and agonize some more… this series is for you.

Sh!t sh!t sh!t!! I run down the stairs, consciously slowing myself as I round the corner into the kitchen, not wanting to needlessly raise any suspicions on the off-chance that she hasn’t heard the news from someone. I take a deep breath as I watch her from across the room.

Emi’s sitting at the dining room table, legs bouncing, coffee in hand, wide smile on her face… newspaper spread out before her.

“Hey, baby,” I start cautiously, syrupy. Her smile grows bigger. “There’s no way you didn’t actually read the paper today… is there?”

She looks up at me, doe-eyed, looking guilty. “I don’t know how to answer that.”

Tee hee!! I LOVED this part. Just a simple moment in a day, but one of many of my favorites in this series. There was just something so real to that scene… I was seeing them both at the same time and giggling like mad. You’ll see. ;)

We’ll all experience this differently, but one thing I can say for sure. We will ALL experience it.

“Don’t cry,” I whisper, choked up. In the same moment, a tear falls from my own eye. She rolls over to face me, wiping the tear from my jaw. Her eyes shift back and forth, looking for something in mine. “I’m here for you, Emi. For us. Try to sleep.” I touch her cheek and lean in to kiss her. Our legs entwined, she cuddles closely to my chest as I run my fingers through her hair. She puts her hand up my t-shirt and lightly scratches my back with her nails.

Once I know she is asleep, I close my eyes, allow a few more tears to escape.

Annnnnnnd…. I wanna cuddle again. *sigh*

Lori Otto made it real for so many of us and I’m so happy to have taken this journey with Emi (no matter how crazy she drove me at times). I can’t help but wonder if I would have been just like her. A past, a present and a definite future – destined to be hers. But who said destiny would always be easy?

I loved it.

4 stars for book #3… and the series as a whole? Yep! Reflecting back and taking it in as a whole… If you devour it one after the next and really let yourself indulge in every moment of them, I’d give it an easy 4 to 4.5 stars!!

Alright now… I’m ready. This one cleansed my palette. I’ve just immersed myself in an emotional week of sweet love and honesty… and I’m so ready to experience an infuriating virtual punch to the gut. Bring on a bad boy!!!! And I mean BAD!!! I’m in the mood for a foul-mouth with a big heart that he likes to hide, and in the process… he ruins EVERYTHING!!! *winks*. Tee hee!

Check out the reading order guide: Emi Lost & Found Series Reading Order

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori Otto February 20, 2013 at 9:19 PM

So glad you stuck with it, Maryse. Thank you for the lovely reviews. This process has been a true journey for me, with highs and lows that rival the books. ;)

Maryse February 20, 2013 at 9:20 PM

Loved it, Lori. I fell hard! I love doing that, and that’s all I ask for, when I read. I wanna live it too, and I did with your series.

Dana February 20, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Loved this series! I was reading all day and all night to finish all of them in 2 days…I couldn’t put them down. I woke my husband up in the middle of the night crying during a certain part. He thought I was crazy! Needless to say after the up and down emotional roller coaster this took me on, I needed a much lighter read for my next book. So I read Wallbanger and that pulled me out of my angsty mood. Again I love, love, LOVE this series!

Claudia February 20, 2013 at 9:37 PM

I read part 1 a few weeks ago and I was looking for book 2 when I read a review that unfortunately/ fortunately included a MAJOR spoiler. I say fortunately because when I read this spoiler I got so upset that I refused to read part 2. I don’t know if I ever will be ready, I fell so hard in the first and had so many high hopes that I just cant do it ;(

Serena February 20, 2013 at 9:39 PM

I finished book 1 yesterday and went right into the next one. I was sobbing uncontrollably at midnight, waking my husband up for him to think something was wrong. Now, back to reading…and probably a little more crying! Emi is heading to Nate’s apt for the first time….this is going to be another long night.

Maryse February 20, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Do it Claudia. I was there with you (a spoiler for me, too). I waited a month or two (maybe more?) before moving on to #2 (and only because fellow readers insisted). I am SO glad they did. Was worth the entire journey and there is so much more to go.

Kristina February 20, 2013 at 9:52 PM

I am so glad you took the plunge and finished the series. I KNEW you would love it. It was so great! I am telling everyone I know about it. I have been grappling with reading Contessa but I just can’t go there yet. Maybe someday. Anyway go find yourself a bad boy and enjoy!

Nicolle February 20, 2013 at 10:17 PM

AHH just reading this review makes me tear up and I read this series probably a month ago! Loved the books and sooo sad at the beginning of book 2…i definitely suggest a funny read after this as well…i just read Beautiful Bastard and it was hilarious!!

Elizabeth February 20, 2013 at 10:44 PM

One of my all-time favorite series that has it all. ::clutches heart:: I think the series was originally written as one book so you really must read it in its entirety. You will feel so satisfied after reading all 3. I can’t say enough about the series or Lori Otto, one of the best. PS – the series has so many swoon-worthy moments…book “husband” material for sure.

Audrey February 21, 2013 at 1:17 AM

I wish I could give this book 10 stars as its really the best series I’ve ever read. I also recommend reading all 3 books back to back for the full effect but its not what I did. Claudia, I was hesitant to continue after the first book but a post on the author’s blog convinced me to do so.
Please have faith and trust people like me who’ve read the series, you will be so glad you finished. You have to believe in the journey and its so satisfying. And lucky for us there are spin-off series!

Annie February 21, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Oh Maryse!! You used my quote- Yeah! I was astounded by this series- Love Love Love it! I totally feel your “now I need a Bad Boy to take my mind off this !!” So – any reader who has not read this… not deny yourself. If there is an emotion that you have had, an internal struggle that you’ve experienced, Emi has been there. This story will make you believe and question at the same time! And yes you can do both of those things!!!! Enjoy the journey…it is soooo worth it!

Michelle February 21, 2013 at 8:18 PM

The best series I’ve ever read. Beautiful story. Read all 3 this past weekend and was an emotional wreck. Also read Contessa this week and enjoyed it too. Just beautiful story and writing. Loved it!!

Nix February 23, 2013 at 7:51 AM

I read the series ine after the other, and was also just immersed in these peoples lives. I was not an outsider. I was part of the circle of family and friends who observed from the inside. I too had many moments when I wanted to slap characters. Each of the main ones, in fact ;) But this series will stick with me forever, and I count these characters as part of my circle of literary friends who I will visit time and time again.

So glad you loved the series and I loved your review.

Monica February 25, 2013 at 8:25 AM

So, I’ve been an avid follower of yours for a year, since stumbling upon your blog during a random Google search looking for something to read after Beautiful Disaster. I’ve enjoyed reading both yours and your follower’s reviews of every book and series. This particular series, however, evoked from me so many emotions I feel I finally jumped off a roller coaster ride I’m not so certain I could climb back on again! Such a well written story which had me smiling, angry as can be at the author, (so much so I had to stop reading and clean the house during book 2), many, many tears (which are a rarity to me during a reading session) and the “ahhh” moments. Strongly recommend to anyone looking to be consumed. Thanks for all the great suggestions and reviews. Keep ‘em coming!

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