Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Challenges are only mountains that we have yet to climb.”
I’m not crying, you’re crying! After initially feeling as though this novel could take the same path of hundreds of other romance novels out there, it wasn’t long before I realised how wrong I was. This book soon became one of the most well thought out, memorable and heart-wrenching romances I’ve ever read. Very pleased to share my review with you all for Red March, and congrats to Karmin on such a great book!
Red March by Karmin Walker follows the story of Kamala, who has been through a lot these past few years. Serving in the Army as a combat medic, getting married, and then having a child within months of her husband dying in war – she struggles for a few years to find her fit in life after the trauma she has endured. Eventually, with her four-year-old daughter in tow, she takes the plunge to follow her childhood dreams of becoming a published author. Kam falls head over heels in love with a man that she should not love at all and eventually, she finds the motivation to write her first book… on the story she was required to remain silent on. What happens when humility gets the best of them both?
The beginning of this story felt like a romance novel within a romance novel! The style of writing instantly shouted ‘hopeless romantic’ which, if I was honest, was rather cute. It was like witnessing someone’s first feelings of love, even though Kamala, our main character, has already been there before, and mothers a young child. The first chapter in particular felt like a whirlwind of an experience. We briefly hear about Kam’s time in the army, meeting her husband, witnessing his passing and bringing up their daughter alone. We also hear about her job and her lifelong dreams to write and be a published author. I thought I sensed that the main character was based off the author herself, but if not, then I think we have a budding first-person author on our hands here 🙂
We quickly meet Rian, the guy from work who she writes to as much as she is able, and their relationship blossoms in a beautiful way. Kam feels guilty about her feelings for this man so soon after the death of her husband, but it seems something that she can’t control. The story seems to be very ‘to the point’ about these feelings, and I felt as though this relationship developed very fast. How realistic would this be if you had only just lost your husband at war? I feel like there could have been a bigger backstory to Kam and her husband, or even a particular event that could have caused her to fall in love again quite easily. However, saying this, it’s clear the author has spent time building Kam and Rian’s relationship, and even though their situation isn’t ideal, there is definitely a spark there. Should Kam continue to pursue these feelings?
What I thought was really unique about this book so far was that dialogue was very rare. We’re able to understand a loving, exciting relationship through minimal speaking parts and an awful lot of description. I thought this was done really well, and felt like a real breath of fresh air when I compared it to other books I’ve read. This would have been hard to pull off, but the author has really thought outside the box to deliver something different to her readers. As the story went on, I began to appreciate the distance Kam and Rian kept from one another. The reasons for it are explained well, and I soon grew to love both of these characters and the respect they had for one another. They were certainly compatible, yet at this point, I wasn’t sure of the outcome I wanted. It was at this point where I really started asking questions about the characters and how the pair would grow together.
“It was such a comforting feeling. That even if we didn’t talk, we still acknowledged each other.”
I found myself feeling increasingly sorry for Rian’s wife, Helen, as the book went on, and part of me was appalled at Rian’s behaviour behind her back. Sneaking off to meet Kam while his wife was ill seemed to be a pretty low thing for Rian to do, and I would be devastated if I found out something like this was happening behind my back. However, on the flip side, you can’t help who you fall in love with, but I’d hope that if it was a real life situation, he’d have the decency to break up with his wife first! I tried to put these feelings aside when reading the rest of the story however, as I was aware the author had planned this in for a reason. Would Rian’s wife ever find out these two were much more than ‘just friends’? Would Kam and Rian ever be able to make a romantic relationship work, or would their professional relationship be too important?
We begin to see more dialogue as we get stuck in to the middle of the story, and Kam and Rian begin to learn a lot more about each other. The connection they share intensifies and we understand just how much they need to be together. There is a lot of discussion between the two – they talk to each other a lot and see each other when Rian is not working away, but it’s clear he thinks a lot of Kam and her daughter. Kam admits that she wants to get married again in the future to the right person, and it’s clear that Rian perfectly fits the picture she paints. The story continues to follow the pair like this for some time, and the build up to something happening between them was well received. The reader gets a thorough understanding of why Kam and Rian are taking things so slowly, and it was nice to be a part of their relationship growth.
Unfortunately for Kam and Rian, we hear that Helen finds out the truth about their relationship. She reads their letters, views their call history and forbids the pair to talk while Rian is at home, forcing him to concentrate more on his own family. The pair abide by these new rules, but it isn’t long before their passion for one another works itself up a notch. With both Kam and Rian becoming more and more irresistible to one another, would they be able to keep this up? Even though I found what they were doing morally wrong, at least they were trying to control their feelings and prevent anything physical from happening. The way things were heating up, I was convinced they wouldn’t be able to keep their relationship at a distance for much longer. Could they really follow their own rules, as well as those which Helen has now set?
With the news of Rian’s wife going away for the weekend, Kam and Rian plan how they’re going to spend some much needed time together, whilst also taking into account Kam’s daughter, and how she would fit into the picture. The way in which he asks Kam a lot of questions about her preferences shows just how much he cares for her, and this is also the same for Kam. By this point, I felt like I knew these two characters extremely well, and felt like I could trust both of them to stay true to their words and promises. Their relationship is at an exciting stage, but even though there is still some way to go before they’d be able to get together properly, I was glad they could enjoy each other’s time in other ways which weren’t all sexual. Descriptions of thoughts and feelings between these two characters are so well put together. Love is most definitely in the air, and there was no sign of it going anywhere any time soon. At least in their hearts.
“Rough days are what makes the good days even better. I knew that not every day was meant to be perfect.”
Their happy relationship comes crashing down on them as Rian’s wife gives him an ultimatum. Either he stays with her and his boys, or he leaves them for ‘someone he thinks he likes’. Of course, he has to choose his family and his old life before Kam, which shatters their world and their future plans together. It was saddening to read – how the once happy, joking pair had now turned into almost strangers in a matter of hours. You can really feel their pain, and the description in this part of the story was perfect. We get inside Kam’s head, how she really isn’t coping, and also see how depressive Rian is becoming now that Kam isn’t a crucial part of his life and happiness anymore. Even if Kam and Rian couldn’t have the relationship they wanted in the end, I hoped they’d both find closure. If not, I’ll probably be a blubbering wreck!
After Kam’s huge shock, she suffers greatly with her mental health, as would anyone in her situation. She takes time off work, and even though she told herself she wouldn’t get in contact with Rian, she can’t help herself. She feels distraught, and doesn’t want her last conversation with him to be negative. She craves some sort of acknowledgement from him, even if it’s simply a normal working relationship. I loved how the author dealt with these themes of sadness and depression and she easily draws in her readers with meaningful words that we can easily feel. Who knows what the future will hold for the pair – whatever the outcome, I was confident the author would round things off nicely at the end of the book. I was dying to see whether there would be a happy ending or not!
Before we reach that all important conclusion, there is a particular conversation that really broke my heart, so I couldn’t imagine what Kam was going through! Rian tells her that everything he said about their future and his love for her was all a lie. If she didn’t feel incredibly heartbroken before this point, I feared this would well and truly tip her over the edge. Deep down, I felt as though he’d only told her this to help her move on – if she thought he no longer cared for her, maybe she’d may be able to let him go and find happiness elsewhere. My initial thought of not thinking their relationship was fair on his wife quickly went out the window – these two needed to be together, if not now, then definitely in the future.
Kam turns to drink and religion to try and cope with her loss, and things become a little dark, which was a huge contrast to the rest of the story so far. I’m not always a huge fan of books which take a religious turn, but I really enjoyed how it was included in the book. Just the right amount, and so relevant to what Kam was experiencing at this point. As she confides in people, the news spreads around her workplace, leaving her feeling both depressed and humiliated. Who wants to be the talking point of their whole office? As she hears negative things about Rian, she had to now choose a side. Does she side with those who knew him the longest? Or does she know the real Rian better than anyone else? Could he really have broken her heart on purpose due to an abuse of power?
“We knew we had met for a reason, and we both knew right away that it was part of God’s plan.”
The ending of the story took me by surprise – I did NOT expect the outcome that I read! Even though it wasn’t necessarily the ending I’d expected, I thought it was a really good angle to take, and one that teaches us an incredibly important lesson. Kam does the right thing and puts herself first, as she should. It was amazing to see this character’s growth, especially her confidence in Rian’s absence. The author used some amazing techniques to trick the reader in a way, and I was blown away with how well she pulled this off. I’m not going to spoil the ending, so I urge you to give this book a try! Another romance I would 100% recommend 🙂
I’ll let you in on a secret. I was about to give this book 4/5 stars…until I read the ending! I expected to read the usual romantic ending that has been done a thousand times before, but I was very pleasantly surprised with the author’s talent to create something unexpected, something that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. (Maybe I should tell you my thoughts on the rest of the book too before I get carried away and ruin it?!)
Red March is a story about an emotional relationship like no other, with two characters who are compatible in every possible way. The road is difficult for them, but they stick at it, creating a beautiful bond. I had such strong views on the nature of the story at first and I didn’t think I’d agree with how the pair went about their relationship, but the author managed to change my mind through her words, which was very impressive. Descriptions of places and characters were extraordinary, and I was so taken aback by the detail on each page. I’m so looking forward to see what the author does next on her writing journey. Five stars from me!
Congratulations and THANK YOU to the author for her wonderful novel and giving me the chance to read it! You can purchase your own copy of the book on Amazon, (free on Kindle Unlimited!) or over on my lil’ shop on Bookshop.org. I put my recommended reads on there, and you’ll be supporting local bookshops too if you’re in the US! Make sure you follow Karmin over on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date.