Meet Luke Crawley in Blake Austin’s debut novel of loss, redemption, and ever-enduring love!
Luke Cawley is a broken man. After his wife’s tragic death, he lost everything that mattered in the world. Now, his life is filled with hard days, harder nights, and a steady stream of alcohol and the wrong kind of women. Nothing helps.
Until the letters arrive on Luke’s doorstep.
Nine envelopes. Nine messages. Nine chances to find his way back.
Rae Goode is looking for the real thing. After fighting her way out of a string of bad relationships, she’s ready for something different–something true.
She meets Luke while piecing her life together, and right away she can tell that he’s different. Drawn together by fate and the desire to heal, Rae and Luke discover new ways to mend their broken hearts–one letter at a time.
Discover Blake Austin’s debut novel of loss, redemption, and ever-enduring love.
We all have had someone close to us pass away and we all deal with it differently.We try to channel our grief into something. A release. Some of us pray. Some of us write. Some of us volunteer. Some of us create music. Some of us create art.
When I started reading 9 Letters all the feelings that I went through and still go through from my losses in 2014 were raw. Some of you know that in 2014 I lost my grandmother who I was very close with on Christmas morning. I was prepared as much as one could be. She was 90 and had a wonderful life and she was at peace with passing – she had been sick and her spirit was ready for a different journey. Although I know it happens I just wanted her to stay. As we laid my grandmother to rest another tragedy happened. My dad passed away on NYE. This I was not ready for. Nobody in my family was. He survived a liver transplant and the following complications but was on the mend. Was excited for things to come. But he fell ill and his body just could not recover. I was and am completely devastated. There were days that I just coasted by.
How did I deal with this: I wrote each of them a letter to be buried with them. I still dream about them and when I wake up I cry but remember them. I visit their graves when I can. I also decided to donate to charities that each of them loved.
So when Luke got 9 Letters from his deceased wife I felt a kinship. We all would love just one more moment with our loved ones and this was a great for him to have that.
Death is hardest on the living when try to find a way to get through. We carry on but it will always be different because a piece is missing.
With each letter Emily gave ways for Luke to heal. She carried him on through her death. Made him to see that he can continue, to heal and be happy in a new world without her. Most letters gave him a bit of a challenge. To get and do things. Help people. Help himself. Connect with new and old.
He followed through with each letter. Most were a struggle. Some came with ease. Little by little he started to become Luke even though had so much growing to do as a man, as a person and as a widower. You saw the struggles of everyday life and the pain and strength to get through them. Luke and Emily had a true love that is hard to find and especially for being so young. Even with their short time together Blake gave us a look into what was a loving true marriage.
Rae become a focus for him. She is pure, sassy and grounded. Rae is someone that you want to have on your side. Be there for a laugh or a cry. Rae come into his life through one of Luke’s letters – to get a dog. When Luke went to the local shelter Rae was the one to help him find King. Little by little the two became to want to be with each other, look forward to seeing each other, and have fun and rely on their pasts for their futures.
This was amazingly unique. It was completely refreshing to read a work that was different and made you dive into something so real and palpable.The grief, growth, love, wit, sorrow, and heart poured off the pages and into your heart. Bravo to this author for making me feel. He created characters that are relatable, people that you feel that you know a version of in your life, the journey that each went on that is just real. Nothing was fake or pretentious.
The ninth letter to this read was purely heartfelt and feeling melting. It was a perfect ending to a journey of love and loss.
I was about twenty minutes early for my shift, but I got up to the bar, grabbed a rag, started wiping it down, bussing some dishes.
“Damn, Luke,” Jake said, watching me work. “You win the lotto or something? Royals win the pennant last night and I forgot to watch?”
“I’m just in a good mood, that’s all,” I said.
I thought about it a moment longer, decided I should tell him more. Impart some wisdom learned from my not-particularly-advanced years.
“When everything’s dark for so damn long and your eyes get used to it,” I said, “just a little glimmer of sunshine lights up the whole world.”
He nodded, then grabbed a bus bin and headed back into the kitchen.
Warren though, Warren wasn’t impressed. He was sitting by one of the daytime barflies, but he’d stopped talking and was just watching me. I was on thin ice, and I knew it. I couldn’t afford to lose my job. A heartbroken, drunk, angry widower is probably as unemployable as the average ex-con.
I came on at the end of the day shift. Warren liked tending bar during the day, because it meant just shooting the shit with the regulars. That day I had a smile for every customer, sparse words of wisdom like day drunks want to hear. Tending bar wasn’t my dream. But to hell with letting that make me lazy. I kept the place clean, I poured drinks like I cared.
I was getting into the swing of it when happy hour kicked in and a few more people filtered through the door. Couple of middle-aged bikers, a retired couple that parked their RV out front.
The door swung open again, letting in a little bit of that early-evening cold, and I glanced up to see a crowd of three women, with two men. One of the women was a reddish blonde, radiant. Sort of stole the light out of the room. It was Rae. Our eyes met and her smile gave the room back its light.
She’d been in jeans at the shelter, but she was in a blue dress now and she looked damn fine in either. Took my mind right off Maggie, faster than I thought it would be possible. I met her eyes, and she gave out a little gasp and giggle. I was probably smiling in surprise myself.
The crowd came over to the bar. I’d thought the other four were two couples, but I realized pretty quick that the black girl with the afro was dating the quiet white guy in a beard and glasses and tattoos, and that the other guy was trying to impress Rae. He had a John Deere hat, but his clothes were way too clean for me to buy it that he worked on a farm. I hated him, right off. I probably would have hated him if he was the best guy in the world, though. The other girl, she was tall, latina, and for some indiscernible reason was interested in the poser farmer.
Most of the time, I’m awful at reading people. But for some reason, at work I can tell you everything about everyone who walks in the door. About who’s into who, about who had a bad day at work. Who wants to get drunk and miserable, who wants to get drunk and happy, who wants to get drunk and start trouble. Maybe it’s some magic of the job, maybe it’s just how people carry themselves at a bar. Helps with tips, that’s for certain. You wingman right, and the money flows in.
Warren, he likes to upsell them drinks when he’s doing that. Get them excited about the top shelf. Not me.
“Hey, Rae,” I said.
“Luke,” she said.
John Deere looked at me like I was the scum of the earth. And maybe I was, but if I was the scum then he was… I don’t know, something worse than scum. Wannabe scum.
She introduced me to her friends. Nicole had the afro, her boyfriend was Eric. The girl with bad taste was Irina, and John Deere had some name but honestly it went in one ear and out the other. He was John Deere to me. Yeah, maybe I’m an asshole.
“So, how do you know this guy?” Deere asked, tossing me a look that said I clearly wasn’t good enough to be friend with someone like Rae.
“Oh, he came in just the other day. Adopted the sweetest dog, a bloodhound.” She turned to me, flashing that dimple high on her cheek. “How is he? You guys call a truce yet?”
“King’s great,” I said. “I mean, he’s probably at home right now, eating everything I’ve ever owned, but I figure I was due for a purge anyway, right?”
It was a lame attempt at humor, but Rae laughed.
“What can I get you all? Friend of Rae’s is a friend of mine.”
Blake Austin is a guitar playing father of one, who lives in Los Angeles. He’s written music for as long as he can remember and was inspired to add book writing to his repertoire. 9 Letters is his debut novel.
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