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Trust. Hope. Forgiveness. Love.

Suzanne Smith Author Interview

The Brute and I follows a woman who dares to hope for finding true love again after a prior bad relationship that left her scarred. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

As dark as Alex’s story was, I intended for it to end on an optimistic note. I wanted Alex to heal from her past mistakes, and to find true love again. Before that was a possibility, she had to see herself as she really was. She had imagined herself a stoic robot, able to erect a numbing emotional wall and bury her pain and humiliation at will. But, the truth was that Alex was a troubled and insecure young woman who was missing vital pieces of herself due to years of neglect by someone she cared for deeply. When she fell in love with Marco, the dismal feelings of the past had dissipated, and the warm, tender feeling of love had blossomed. For a time, she’d felt whole and happy. But, that happiness was temporary, and soon her debilitating sense of insecurity returned. She became withdrawn, and the passion and intimacy that her and Marco had shared became strained, creating a breeding ground for jealousy and distrust. Violence and infidelity seeped into their imperfect relationship. Ironically, it was Marco’s single act of brutality toward Alex that had introduced a positive element of spirituality into the story and led them both on a path of self-discovery and enlightenment. Alex and Marco reopened the lines of communication between them, learned to verbalize their feelings, and came to trust and understand each other more than they ever did before. Reinventing herself and rebuilding her relationship with Marco was an uphill battle for Alex, but, in the end, I wanted to give the reader a sense that true love really did conquer all.

Alex wants to love again, but she has to overcome her past. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Denying her feelings and swallowing her pain had always been a big factor in Alex’s stunted emotionality. For years, she’d deceived herself into believing that she’d left her bleak past behind, and what had happened to her then hadn’t affected her present behavior in any way. When the man of her dreams, Marco, entered her life and pointed out that her inability to come to grips with her past was destroying their relationship, she started to question the efficacy of her bizarre method of coping with her many disappointments. Desperate to find out if Marco was right and to save what was left of their love, she enlisted the help of a professional therapist. Once she had immersed herself in the non-judgmental and welcoming group therapy setting, she dissected her past, and allowed the bitterness and resentment that she’d felt for as long as she could remember to come to the surface. The recall of these negative feelings had been so powerful that she conceded that perhaps there was some connection between the past and the present after all. She eventually came face to face with the dark void inside of her and discovered the true source and origin of her crippling pain. That discovery gave her a sense of empowerment and control over her life. She tore down her emotional walls and abandoned her ill founded illusion of invincibility. She’d come to accept the idea that the pain of the past would always be a part of her, but she was strong enough not to let it sabotage her happiness.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Trust. Hope. Forgiveness. Love.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I just finished a full length novel titled Lilah’s Limit. It takes place in New Orleans circa 1870. It’s a story about a scarred man who falls in love with a mysterious prostitute. It’s pretty much ready to be published now, so with any luck, that will happen soon.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

When Marco struts into Gigi’s grill, Alex wonders if she has found the one. When he takes the seat next to her and strikes up a conversation, She is immediately aroused by the heat of his animal magnetism. There is something she sees in his vulnerable, piercing green eyes that touches her heart. She realizes that she wants this handsome man to be more than just her bedmate. She wants him to be her soulmate.

Marco was instantly smitten the moment he fixed his eyes on Alex. There was something about her warm, sympathetic gaze that filled him with hope. Maybe he had a chance to overcome the bitterness and despair that had blighted his life. Perhaps finally some measure of happiness is within his grasp.

The love between them quickly blossoms, but there is a dark cloud on the horizon. For no reason Marco can see, Alex suddenly becomes sullen and withdrawn. He worries that she is slipping away from him. The idea of losing her affection and being forced to retreat back into the cold, black, pit of despair, is more than he can stand. He only knows one way to deal with the pain he is feeling.

Can their love survive the turmoil and grow into something good once more?

The Brute and I 

Love is never easy. Alex and Marco know this, perhaps, better than anyone. They simultaneously make the perfect and the most volatile of couples. Their history is long, troubled, and charged with an animosity that neither of them is able to verbalize. This, in fact, may be the downfall of their relationship. When every battle they have been fighting comes to a head one night, violence threatens to end what they have worked so hard to build, and the two are forced to look at their relationships and themselves in an entirely new and terrifying light.

The Brute and I, by Suzanne Smith, is an utterly stunning piece of fiction. Not quite a romance and not exactly in the spiritual vein, this short novella delivers one of the most powerful messages of hope I have ever had the fortune to read. Alex and Marco have a tumultuous relationship, and readers see the result of their dynamic in the first few paragraphs. It is harrowing to read, triggering for some readers, and incredibly impactful by the story’s end.

One of the most gripping aspects of Smith’s plot is the focus on rationale versus raw emotion. There is nothing more realistic than the battle between these two when it comes to love, and the author is a master at conveying this through her characters. The first-person narration adds to the emotional impact of Alex’s story. Her fears, her jealousy, and her own disappointment with herself will grab readers from the first sentence. As a survivor of domestic abuse, I felt Alex’s trepidation as she grappled with staying with Marco or leaving him behind. The author has truly done an amazing job of creating a believable cast of characters with whom many readers will be able to relate.

The thing that sets Smith’s work apart from so many other books that deal with domestic abuse is that the characters’ experiences offer hope. Alex and Marco are both strong-willed and determined, but they are set on making their relationship work–no matter what it takes. Readers are taken on that journey and hold hands with Alex as she seeks the therapy she needs to heal. Marco’s journey is an absolutely breathtaking one. His healing, though different from Alex’s, is no less amazing.

The author delves into some frightening areas of the human psyche, and it is a ride I am glad I did not miss. The emotions of the main characters are raw from beginning to end and give readers a lot to process as they watch Alex and Marco move through some very challenging stages. I highly recommend Smith’s work to anyone looking for a psychologically rich story with well-developed and relatable characters. This is a one-sitting book and, hands-down, one of my favorites this year.

Pages: 211 | ASIN : B07F95G2FS

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