“I remember everything about you, Oliver. You were real. Your life before what happened to you was real.”

Well, Jennifer Hartmann has without a doubt become an automatic one-click author for us, such is the quality of her writing, her characters, and her stories. We are blown away by her talent. Starting off with The Wrong Heart a few months ago, we discovered just how amazing of a writer Jennifer Hartmann is. This month we decided to binge read Still Beating, followed by Lotus and we were once again in awe. Please bear in mind trigger warnings regarding these books. This review is for Lotus, a standalone which features a main character briefly mentioned in Still Beating, as well as cameos by a couple of characters from that same novel. As mentioned, each can be read as standalones, however, we loved moving from one to the other.

“You saved my life.”
“I always save you.”

We fell head over heels for Oliver and Sydney’s epic friendship and love story. A friendship that transcended time and absence. Lotus broke our hearts then proceeded to heal them. It was tragic and heartbreaking, yet inspirational and uplifting. It was as dark as it was swoony and light-hearted. It packed a punch in the emotional gut yet was somehow overwhelmingly endearing too. It was sublime in its honesty, base feelings, and we thought the exploration of how deeply society’s fads and constructs become engrained in our personal development was steeped in truths.

“You make me feel like I’m… someone.”
“You are someone, Oliver. You always have been.”

Upon starting we knew that Oliver resurfaces after 22 years in captivity, confused at the state of the world, having not been a part of it for so long. His thoughts and speech were like an old soul in a young man’s body, somehow paying homage to the gentlemen of the golden era. He was a treat to read and get to know, and of course, he stole our hearts completely in the process. No bullshit agendas, straight-up honesty, and refreshingly literal at times, Oliver had patience, a massive heart, and compassionate nature. All wonderful developed qualities, despite the horror of his existence which could have severely influenced him to the contrary. Imagine not having been influenced by social media, corruption from world reporting, and being taught by classic novels and authors like Shakespeare, albeit in isolation and deprived circumstances. Oliver suffered suppressed memories, having to find his place in the outside world again, his only anchor being his childhood friend and his stepbrother, Gabe.

“We’re constantly chasing imaginary destinations, thinking we’re missing out, wanting more. We’re never truly present.”

Oliver’s journey was powerful, exciting, heartbreaking, and romantic.  It was so vividly written we immediately took him into our hearts. Unbeknownst to Oliver his heart already belongs solely to Sydney, who as a youngster lost her best mate when Oliver disappeared. They’d promised each other forever under the fireworks, despite their young years. So, when tragedy happened Sydney breaks, surrounding herself with fortress-like walls to guard her abandoned broken heart. Sydney was a wonderful character too, she loves with all her heart, a heart that belongs solely to Oliver, Sadly, she struggles to quantify love and friendship when he returns from decades of absence. She too must relearn how to trust, how to give herself fully, and how to believe that Oliver won’t leave her again.

“Why do you associate attachment with suffering and loss? God, who hurt you, Sydney?”
“You did!”

Whilst Lotus had bouts of darkness, drama, and suspense, it also has humour and joy. The angst and twists are plenty meaning we were compelled, turning the pages furiously yet also trying to take our time reveling in Jennifer Hartmann’s prose. We must applaud this Author for completely bowling us over by a twist that made us question the intentions of right and wrong, provoking a lengthy debate on an action that had detrimental consequences but could be considered otherwise in the eyes of another. We cannot stress how much we love Jennifer Hartmann and how addicted we have now become to her characters and their stories. If you haven’t met this Author’s work yet, you really need to go one-click!

“What did it feel like to you?”
“Like every star in the galaxy tumbled to Earth and crawled beneath my skin.”