This article is by Elaine White. All opinions are her own.
I read this novel, by J. Dylan Yates, in October of last year and loved it! It was a 5 star read for me and I thought you'd all appreciate a look at the novel.
Jules Finn and Samuel Trautman know that sorrow can sink deeply—so deeply it can drown the spirit. In The Belief in Angels, by J. Dylan Yates, these two wounded souls—one struggling to survive her childhood with her sanity intact, the other haunted by memories from his past—must decide: surrender to the grief that threatens to destroy them, or find the strength to swim for the surface.
Growing up in a volatile hippie household on a tiny island off the coast of Boston, Jules’s imaginative sense of humor is the weapon she wields as a defense against the chaos of her family’s household. But somewhere between gun-waving gambling debt collectors and LSD-laced breakfast cereal adventures, her younger brother Moses dies—and it’s a blow from which Jules may never fully recover.
Jules’s grandfather, Samuel, wants to help his grandchildren, but he’s wrapped up in a sad story of his own. Once called Szaja, Samuel is an orthodox Jew who lived through the murderous Ukranian pogroms of the 1920s, as well as the Majdanek Death Camp—but his survival came at an unspeakable price.
In their darkest moments, Jules and Samuel receive what could only be explained as divine intervention—serendipitous experiences that give them each the hope they so desperately need. Ultimately, however, they both must look inside themselves for the courage to come to the rescue of their own fractured lives.
Vividly drawn and breathtakingly insightful, The Belief in Angels is a beautiful, heartbreaking exploration of human nature at its worst—and its best.
(Excerpt from Chapter One)
Jules Finn, 18 years | August, 1979
Sometimes in order to tell a story well, so it’s truly understood, you have to tell it out of order. My story tells like this. It unravels . . . and ravels up again.
My name is Julianne, but everybody calls me Jules. I was named after my Great-Uncle Jules on my father’s side. That’s what my father, Howard, told me. My mother, Wendy, told me I’m named after a dead racehorse trainer.
It’s hard to know what to believe.
For now, I live here in Withensea, a seacoast town north of Cape Cod, an island that thrives on summer tourism. In two weeks I will leave for college and never come back.
Many people I went to school with will stay, however. A kind of Withensea tradition. They’ll move down the road with their high school sweethearts, who’ll become their spouses, and settle close to the homes they were raised in.
Sometimes a place can be as much a part of you as the people you grew up with. I won’t miss most of the people here, but I’ll miss this place. The ocean, for me, holds the power to turn a moment mystical. Accompanying my memories of childhood there are always ocean sounds—sometimes faint, sometimes louder, the waves crashing and beating their own score. When I picture the breathtaking beauty of our cliff, the ocean, it almost masks the memories of the things that were not picturesque. I’ve spent eighteen years soaking up every beautiful part of Withensea, hoping to crowd out the memories of the painful parts of my life—of guns, of violence, and of loss. A kind of glass-housed chaos, tolerated by the community in order to feed the starving brains bred in small towns.
My life, so far, has also been an existence filled with secrets. Two kinds of secrets. First: the kind that need lies to keep them hidden. Second: the kind our brains create to cope with sorrow.
Still, perspective offers me solace enough to not measure my own sorrow against another. What I understand now about survival is that something in you dies. You don’t become a survivor intact. Survival’s cost is always loss. This is my mourning book.
What follows is a collection of memories I’ve saved. I’ve learned memories are lost more often than objects. I will keep whole parts intact in my telling, where I feel it’s important. In a way, I think it will keep me intact to tell the truth of it this way. It’s my evidence—a way of documenting to keep the truth in my sight line.
There are parts of my life I’ve been absent from. These I will tell from where I am now along the bend of truth. I will call these parts belief.
It’s all left me with this weird love for the moments after something good happens. I call it delayed joy. I hear an achingly beautiful song, and when it’s over I enjoy the immediate moment, the quiet, more than I did the sounds of the song playing. I taste a buttery lick of Butter Crunch ice cream, and after the flavor is gone I savor the loss of the deliciousness in my mouth.
Hadley has been a member of the Williams household her whole life; she's practically one of the family. Younger son, Micah, is her best friends, who knows all of her secrets. Particularly her secret crush for his brother, Maxx. Hadley accepts that he doesn't return the feeling, despite Micah encouraging her to make a move. However, when her employed and his father, Emerson, offers to officially adopt her, her whole world suddenly turns upside down. Can she face being the adopted sister of the man she loves?
Everything was just as regular as any other day, so she didn't think anything of Emerson's 'gift'.
True to her word, she returned to the lounge ten minutes later to find it empty. Confused, she walked across the large hallway and noticed an envelope on the table. Curious as to who would leave a letter there, she picked it up to see who it was for or if it was to join the outgoing mail she would post in the morning. Shock hit her first, then wonder and finally hope.
Her name was written delicately on the front.
Hadley looked around the hallway to see if there was anyone there before opening it. She looked at the crumpled piece of paper and wondered about it. It looked as though it had been folded, refolded and manhandled numerous times, as if someone couldn't decide what to do with it. Almost as if someone had written it and then crumpled it up, intending never to let anyone see it only to change their mind. She unfolded the paper, her heart beating a mile a minute, giving the room another look over before reading it.
"Hadley, so many times I've tried to tell you, to let you know how I feel." She whispered to herself, reading it aloud. Those fateful words stirred her curiosity as she imagined who it could be from. "But every time I try, it never seems to work out the way I plan. You have no idea how many times I've written this letter to you and never had the courage to let you see it. Even now I don't think I have the guts to actually go through with it. I guess what I want you to know, out of all the things in the world that I could tell you, the one thing that is most important of all...the one thing that really means something...is that I love you. I am, honest to God, one hundred percent, can't think, eat, sleep because of it, in love with you.'
Hadley smiled and bit her lip as she folded the note and put it back into it's envelope, praying against all hope that it was from Maxx. It was the only way she could imagine all her dreams finally coming true...that Maxx would tell her he loved her. She ran her fingers the cursive writing of her name on the envelope and sighed. The door in front of her opened and she looked up, her eyes dreamy and smiling. She smiled at Maxx as he exited the lounge and walked over to the closet under the stairs, not even noticing her. She twirled the strand of hair beside her ear a few times and slipped the note into her back pocket as she walked into the lounge.
Micah walked up to her and gave her a hug as soon as he saw her. "Congratulations!" He whispered. Hadley smiled as she pulled away.
"I can't wait for you to be my big sister." He blushed. Hadley stared at him in disbelief. "We're going to have to throw you the biggest party ever." He continued excitedly. Hadley looked at Emerson and knew that it wasn't by means of a proposal from Maxx. Not after him completely ignoring her just a second before. She looked at him pleadingly, begging him to say it wasn't true.
"Yes, dear girl." He smiled, bouncing on his heels as he stood in the room, hands behind his back, chest puffed out. He looked the epitome of a proud father with an announcement. He walked over to her and held her at arms length as she felt her world crumbling around her. "To celebrate your twenty-first birthday in a few weeks, we're going to make you an honorary member of the family. Give you that one thing you've always wanted. I've already got the adoption papers ready for you to sign." He explained happily, hugging her.
"No." She protested, pulling away from him. She loved Emerson, really she did, but this wasn't right. This wasn't how it was supposed to happen. She saw the frown on his brow, the confusion in his eyes, but she couldn't explain. If he didn't know after all the years it had been so obvious to everyone else, that wasn't her fault. But she couldn't let him ruin her life. "No!" She shouted, realising that he didn't understand. She backed away to the door, saying a silent prayed to demand that she was dreaming. It couldn't be real. "You can't. You'll ruin everything..." She sighed, a tear falling from her eye as she tried to explain. "Please don't." She begged as the door blocked her retreat. Micah looked at her and sighed, realising what was wrong.
"Hadley, I'm sorry...I never thought." He admitted sadly.
"What is wrong with you girl?" Emerson asked angrily, the door opening behind her. "Don't you want to be a part of this family?" He asked.
"No!" She shouted unaware of Maxx' presence behind her. "I don't want it to happen this way." She continued, raising her voice. Her hands went to her stomach, pressing tightly against her top as she tried to fight off a rising wave of nausea. All she could do was shake her head and wish it wasn't real.
"You ungrateful little..." Emerson began before remembering his manners. He took a deep breath and glared at the girl he had once wished to be his daughter.
"I don't want your pity. I just want to be loved." She shouted at him, trying to make him see. But his eyes were cold now, devoid of any love that had once been there. She turned, wanting nothing but to disappear, only to find Maxx standing right in front of her. His face was hard and just as empty of emotion as his father as she pushed past him and ran up the stairs in tears.
Elaine White is the author of YA paranormal romance Runaway Girl and Reckless Abandon, books 1 and 2 in The Secrets of Avelina Chrinicles; MM Romance author of Decadent and The Other Side, books 1 and 2 in The Decadent Series, both available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords; and her first nonfiction book An Unpredictable Life, detailing her teenage strugle with cancer, coming soon. She is also the author of The Alpha and the Oracle, in The Belesone Pack Trilogy,
and An Unpredictable Life.
Visit Elaine White's author page on Amazon for more:
So far, we've had a sneak peek at what's in store for Leila and Lance in book 2 of the Eternally Yours series. Now, let's have a bigger look.
Looking into the mirror, I adjusted my black tuxedo and ascot tie. Then, I combed my hair back once more and looked into my own green eyes, bright with anticipation.
“Well, well, don’t you look gorgeous,” Drake Summerfield teased as he crossed the room and looked into the mirror behind me.
“Thanks, Drake,” I said, smiling, “but I don’t think gorgeous is the right word.”
“No, dapper is more the word, but it seemed inadequate.” He returned the smile. “Are you sure this is what you want? To marry Leila?”
“More sure than anything.” I pulled the front of my jacket down, adjusting it once again even though it didn’t need it.
“Well, she could always become a vampire for you,” he said, matter of fact. Drake and I were both vampires. I was the head of the North Coven and he was the head of the South Coven, but we have been friends for what seemed like an eternity.
“No, she doesn’t,” I replied, my eyes suddenly flaring.
“Then, how do you think you’ll manage it?” Drake asked.
“One day at a time.”
“You love her very much, do you not?” When it was just the two of us with no humans around, we tended to let down our guard and slipped into our older vernacular.
“Yes, I do. Over all of my years, I have never met anyone like her before,” I said, as my mind drifted back over the centuries. “Where has the time gone, Drake?”
“I don’t know, but the only ones who are getting older are the children,” Drake joked.
“Luckily,” I replied, laughing. There were many drawbacks, but that was one perk of being a vampire—you don’t age. I was turned when I was thirty-three and I haven’t aged a day since.
“Well, I think it’s time that I retrieve your lovely bride,” Drake said, looking at his watch. Then, he glanced up at me with a gleam in his eyes. “If you aren’t at the altar when we get there, I will marry her myself.”
“Like hell you will,” I replied. “I’ve waited a long time for this.”
Drake laughed. “Yes, you have.” He clasped my shoulder, then pulled me in for a quick man hug. “Congratulations, you lucky bastard.”
“Hey, now, leave my mother out of this,” I joked.
He laughed as he walked down the hallway toward the room where Leila waited.
I took a deep breath, not sure why I was suddenly nervous. I hadn’t been nervous in centuries, but here it was, rearing its ugly head.
“Ready?” A voice asked from the other end of the hallway. I turned and it was Kellen Tussand, with his dark wavy hair and muscled good looks, wearing a tuxedo. He looked young, despite his being a vampire. In fact, I turned him when he was twenty-five. Looking at him now, he hadn’t aged at ll since that day, even though he was centuries old.
Kellen and I had become friends and he was dying on the battlefield toward the end of the Revolutionary War, so I carried him to a nearby cave. I gave him my blood and sat with him as he died. Then, I gave him my blood after he awakened, turning him into a vampire. But that was long ago and he has been a trusted member of my coven ever since.
After my best friend and colleague Charlotte St. Claire had betrayed me and had nearly killed Leila and the baby, Kellen had helped to stop the vampire werewolf war, so I gave him the job as my personal assistant, in charge of my affairs. We were friends before, but now we were
closer and I trusted him with my life. Even though Charlotte had betrayed me, I refused to let that prevent me from trusting others. It was an isolated incident. The thought of it pains me, when I allow myself to dwell on it. I trust the people around me until they do something that made them untrustworthy. Then, I never trust them again. Trust and loyalty are big issues with me. Anyone who knows me, knows that.
“Well, Lance,” Kellen said, clasping my shoulder. “Your bride awaits.”
A broad smile spread across my face as I forced the memories from my head. This was the happiest day of my life and I intended to enjoy it. “After you,” I said, gesturing to him, then I followed him out.
If you haven't read book 1 yet, you can get Touched by a Vampire here: