Title: He Loves Me Healthy, He Loves Me Not
Author: Renee Dyer
Release Date: August 30, 2016
It’s a strange little word about to change Nick and Brenna St. James’ world forever.
Brenna was raised to believe love conquers all. Losing piece after piece of herself causes her to waver in her beliefs. Insecurities abound and she can’t stop wondering if Nick can love the person she is now. Is it fair to ask him to?
Nick wants a do over. To go back to a time before Brenna was sick, before everything changed. But genies don’t exist, life doesn’t grant wishes, and time machines haven’t been invented. All he can do is follow his heart…and his heart wants Brenna.
Together, they have to face a battle they never imagined.
When fighting is all you have left…
When love can’t heal everything…
When life rests in the balance of the unknown…
When their vows, “…in sickness and in health”, are put to the test…
Will Nick and Brenna be able to fight through the odds stacked against them, or will everything come crumbling down?
He Loves Me Healthy, He Loves Me Not is completely outside the realm of your typical romance. There is nothing about this story that has been romanticized or airbrushed to fit the fairytale. This journey has not been written to make the reader swoon, but it has been written to make the reader feel deeply and irrevocably. This book is real and raw and heartbreakingly honest. As the title suggests, Renee Dyer explores the true strength of Brenna and Nick’s marriage vows as her sudden diagnosis turns their world upside down, forcing them to face the best and worst parts of themselves and their relationship. This book was heartfelt in an undeniable way. Renee Dyer clearly found the words for this book in the depths of her soul, pouring her life and love into Brenna and Nick’s unexpected journey. The resultant novel was simply breathtaking.
“If I could make myself feel today I would walk across the room and hold her hand, but I need the numbness to survive. I need to block out the reality of what’s going to happen to me or I may never make it through.”
Renee Dyer’s characters really stole a piece of my heart. Their fears and pain so palpable and genuine that I found myself connecting to them instantly and wishing I could shelter them from their heartache. Nick surprised me completely, his emotional honesty pouring off the pages. His guilt over feeling helpless broke my heart several times over, while his fierce love for Brenna and devastating thoughts of being forced to live without her stole my breath in that way only a beautiful and unconditional love can. Renee Dyer certainly put Nick through the wringer and by the time I reached the end of the book, she had broken and remolded the boy Brenna fell in love with into an unquestionably worthy man who was swoon-worthy in his own right.
“How can she not know that she’s the strong one?”
Brenna simply captivated me. Renee Dyer did a phenomenal job chronicling the mental, physical, and emotional changes this character experienced. From the complete bliss of falling in love to the absolute horror of suffering under the care of negligent and inexperienced doctors, Brenna constantly evolved during her journey. With her endless flux of emotions and unpredictable physical condition, she wasn’t a character you could define or label. Brenna was whatever she needed to be in each moment, fighting for her life or simply enjoying it. This fluidity of character made me feel as if I experienced an entire lifetime inside the pages of Renee’s book, branding me with an appreciation and respect for the bravery, strength, and unparalleled grace of this character.
“Never apologize for loving me, Nick.”
He Loves Me Healthy, He Loves Me Not is a visceral journey that must be experienced to truly be understood. Renee Dyer had me laughing at the adorable story of how Brenna and Nick met and got me fuming at failures in the healthcare system. I happy sighed at the obvious love that relentlessly fought through the darkness and uncertainty of illness only to cry over the heart wrenching fear that threatened to consume Brenna and Nick’s happily ever after. I felt this story deep down, losing myself to the sobering realization that this is more than just a story to a lot of people. It’s their story. Renee Dyer brings Brenna and Nick’s journey to a close in a way that felt right, if not conventional. She embraced the gritty and imperfect truth of living with a chronic health condition, demonstrating an enlightened acceptance of the human reality. Renee Dyer has created something beautiful and inimitable with He Loves Me Healthy, He Loves Me Not.
I’ve had to sit on my thoughts for He Loves Me Healthy, He Loves Me Not for a few days now. There’s something so indescribable that I felt as I turned that last page. Renee Dyer has created a heartbreakingly real, gut-wrenching, emotional story about a couple whose vows are tested in the hardest of ways. I can guarantee that this story is not your everyday contemporary romance, but if you’re willing to take a chance on a novel that so vividly has the author’s emotions bleeding onto the pages, you will not be disappointed.
“This is how life is supposed to be. It’s how I wanted it to stay. But, Nick and I learned a long time ago that life isn’t fair. It throws curveballs when you least expect it.”
No matter what you may have been through in life, the character of Brenna creates such deep emotions in readers, at least this one. As someone related to a person with a chronic disease, my heart completely sympathized for Brenna. As a human being, it utterly broke for her. To witness the myriad of emotions and get a firsthand account of the issues that arise with a medical issue, like Chiari, allows the character into readers’ hearts in a way that I haven’t previously experienced. I found myself rejoicing in the triumphs of Brenna, while also crying in the moments of heartbreak, but on a soul-deep level. Her husband, Nick, came across as a very multi-dimensional character to me. He seemed so confident in some aspects of his life, yet so unsure when it came to Brenna’s medical stuff. He loved fiercely, but then questioned whether that love could really be enough. These two already had a foundation in their relationship, so it was refreshing to experience what happens after the honeymoon phase has been completed in a relationship, even more so when the sickness or health vow comes into question.
“The doctors took a piece of my skull and I’ll forever have a scar.”
I tend to be a fan of dual points of view in novels, but I felt it was especially important in He Loves Me Healthy, He Loves Me Not. Without it, the characters could have come across abrasive and aloof, but hearing both sides of the story and their inner thoughts, really made their situation real. It helped readers to see the importance of communication in a relationship, especially when there are mitigating circumstances at play. I’ll be honest and say that there were times that the book was extremely difficult to keep turning the pages. The emotional and devastating circumstances that these characters were put through, especially one scene in particular, made my heart hurt.
“Sometimes you need to be reminded of who you were to get back to who you are. We’re on our way to being us again.”
He Loves Me Healthy, He Loves Me Not is definitely not your everyday romance. Renee Dyer has poured her heart and soul into the pages of the novel, and could be felt more with each word read. I know this story is incredibly personal to the author, and there is so much evidence of that. The writing was great, although the medical jargon did go over my head a couple of times. Most of all, those characters…I just wanted to take them into my arms and squeeze away all of their problems. While He Loves Me Healthy, He Loves Me Not deviates from her normal repertoire, it’s a breathtaking, poignant story of love and one woman’s journey to finding herself again.
Justin Timberlake – What Goes Around… Comes Around
Ed Sheeran – Photograph
Christina Aguilera – Beautiful
Maroon 5 – Wipe Your Eyes
Rachel Platten – Fight Song
3 Doors Down – Here Without You
Bruno Mars – Today My Life Begins
Rachel Lampa – If you Believe
Skid Row – I Remember You
Halestorm – Here’s To Us
Halestorm – Hate It When You See Me Cry
Daughtry – I’ll Fight
Daughtry – Wild Heart
Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel
Michael Jackson – I Just Can’t Stop Loving You
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From a young age Renee Dyer had a love of writing, starting with a doodle pad at age four that soon turned into journals and later computer documents. Poetry became short stories and short stories became a novel. Although she’s surrounded by males all day having three sons, a husband and a hyperactive chocolate lab, she still finds time to be all woman when she escapes into the fantasy of reading and writing romance. That is, until she needs male perspective and garners eye rolling from her husband. She’s a true New Englander. You’ll find her screaming profanity at her TV while the Pats play and cuddling under blankets during the cold seasons (which is most of them) reading a good book. To her snow is not a reason to shut things down, only a reason to slow down and admire the beauty. Ask her questions and she’ll answer them. She’s an open book, pun fully intended.