This book. I have the biggest book hangover after reading Olivia. Have you ever read a book, and although it is sad and you might have cried for the characters, how you feel is beyond even those characters? I finished Olivia, and burst into tears. Like rolling down my cheeks, seriously crying tears. I think part of it is because it’s the first Lori Otto novel I’ve read in a long while, so to continue their story but to have new work, it was just…a lot. I think it was also partially due to the fact that Lori creates such a magical world, and I wasn’t ready for it to end yet. You know how everyone talks about how they feel after reading a new CoHo novel or whoever their favorite is? That’s me tonight.
Okay back on track. Short summary – I have to pretend that you know what Contessa was about or otherwise I’ll write pages. This series is a spin-off from the Emi Lost & Found series, but you could start Contessa as a standalone. I definitely wouldn’t dive into Olivia without having read Contessa though. You’ll be confused. Okay so…This series follows Olivia Holland and her first love, Jon. It’s about their trials and many different errors they make along the way. It’s young love at its finest. She’s the daughter of a very well-known family (Sigh - Jack) and she never has to want for anything. She’s an artist, and a fantastic one at that, especially for her age. Livvy is still a bit self-centered, but she’s learning. She’s growing. Then there’s Jon. He’s so intelligent and wise beyond his years having been the head of his household. He has big aspirations in life, and is set on seeing them through. They begin their relationship in Contessa as just young and innocent (We’ve all been 16 before. You know how much innocence goes into that) teenagers. In Olivia, you see them grow up a bit. Or a lot.
This is what happens when you throw in college choices, a loss of your hobby that was once your top priority, or the pain it feels when you lose that first love. They start making mature decisions in regard to their relationship and their future. They start seeing things in a different light than they ever had before. It’s not as simple as a few stolen kisses, and they start realizing that. Love is a lot to take, and you have to learn to stay true to yourself. It’s trying to find the balance of staying the same person you were before while looking to whom you want to become, with that person. Olivia and Jon deal with all of the above, and I loved following along to see how they would deal with each obstacle. Things may not always turn out how you maybe want them to, but you know it’s for the best for those characters. If anyone can do painful moments that you know will work out in the end? It’s Lori Otto. Geez.
I can’t even express in words how much I adore these characters. I love them all individually, but especially together. When I say “these characters”, I don’t mean only Livvy and Jon. The book is centered on them but you see A LOT of Livvy’s family, and you’ll love them all. They’re the most supportive, spectacular group of people, and I’m honestly jealous of her. I want to be a Holland. I think the biggest difference in this book versus the other romance novels you’re reading is that you feel like the parent in the story. In most of our books, we dream of our book boyfriends right? We get the stars in our eyes and wish we could have that person for a while? Okay yes, Jon is dreamy. He’s amazing. But for me, it felt more like I’m watching my children grow up. I’m experiencing all of their up’s and down’s with them. When they hurt, I hurt. When they’re in love, I’m in love with the idea of them being in love. I wanted to keep Livvy’s heart safe, even though I couldn’t. I wanted to scream at Jon for hurting her. I wanted to shake Livvy for how she acts sometimes. So in most of the novels, you pretend to be the heroine. In these, it’s much more than that.
Overall, do I even need to say how much I loved it? Just in case – I loved it. I never want to let the Holland family go, and especially Livvy and Jon. It’s painful, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s real. It hurts to read sometimes. You’ll find yourself completely in love, and immediately frustrated and angry. Lori can pull out every single emotion you can imagine feeling, and she does. Olivia is an absolutely gorgeous story of two young people trying to figure out their way in the world with or without one another. It’s got everything we want – romance, angst, humor, heartbreak, devastation. What more could you ask for, right?
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