5 Hearts

Saving Toby (Toby & Claudia #1)                         by Suzanne McKenna Link

Award-winning author Suzanne McKenna Link brings you her powerful and moving debut novel set on the South Shore of Long Island. Saving Toby is the first book of a two-part story that follows the emotional and inspirational tale of a young couple’s journey to find themselves. 

Synopsis 
Provided by goodreads.com

   Loving someone through their hard fall from grace takes a lot of grit. 
     In school, Toby Faye was a moody kid who sat in the back of class and looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there. Claudia might have forgotten him if it weren’t for the two fatal circumstances surrounding his family. In their small town, the Faye name was infamous. 

    An unexpected job offer drops Claudia back into Toby’s life, and that of his widowed mother. Older now, Toby is a mass of muscles and unruly hair; a real head-turner. Despite Claudia’s attempt to stay away from Toby, his blue-grey eyes expose a need she cannot ignore. Toby’s world is a place where sadness lingers and old wounds run deep. Touched by the family’s plight, Claudia vows to help Toby and his mother move past the hurt. 
     When a local hate crime is linked to Toby and his friends, doubts are cast. Old friends become enemies. Animosity between 
Claudia’s father and Toby strains the father-daughter relationship.
Taking Toby’s side means Claudia will be forced to face situations she never imagined. She will have to be tougher than she’s ever had to be
 Does Claudia have the grit to love Toby through his fall? 

​Full length, New Adult Contemporary love story. No cliff hanger. 
*Contains strong language and explicit scenes. Ages 18+ recommended.

​Personal Thoughts

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Received an ARC from Author for honest review. 
This book is an emotional roller-coaster for our two main characters. We have Claudia who is still trying to find herself. She is in that awkward stage between adulthood and adolescence. Should she still rely on her father for everything and if so follow his laid out plan for her; or, does she blaze her own path? Then we have Toby. The poor guy was handed a crappy situation from the get-go. With his external negative influences, shaping who he believes he is, Toby goes through many emotional and physical obstacles.

One thing I liked about this book was how real and raw it was. The characters had many struggles and the author illustrates them with an honest interpretation.  

Claudia is the main focus for the first half of the book. She grew up with a strong father who expected her to be the ideal daughter. Claudia didn’t get into trouble. She was a “good girl,” but in college she begins to realize that she wants more. Living under daddy’s thumb isn’t going to let her get very far. She has to stand up for herself.  Her dream to attend USC (GO TROJANS) is inspiring. She doesn’t give up and devotes all her energy and focus on getting into the degree program. When she allows herself a break and to reevaluate her situation, that is when she truly and finally allow Toby in. 


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Claudia Chiametti
Claudia and Toby’s relationship is bitter-sweet. I felt that he was TOO strong at times. She kept pushing him away and he wouldn’t get the hint. I think too often in books, authors write about women desiring pushy men who pursue them. I just feel not all women want that type of guy. Claudia finally gives into Toby and goes out with him. She enjoys the way he makes her feel, but she puts stipulations on him and the blooming relationship. This causes some tension later in their story. 
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Toby Faye
Toby is his own brand of interesting. The guy grew up with a drunk, abusive dad and a brother that would beat the crap out of him, if the old-man didn’t. Toby’s mother, a sweet God fearing lady, did all she could to help her family. When Toby’s dad dies in a car accident, Toby’s world is turned upside down. He becomes confused and reserved. He gets in with the wrong type of friends – potheads, drunks, abusers, races and prejudice people. Toby’s, so-called-friends were trying to manipulate him. When the guys hit-on Claudia, Toby was not cool with it and Claudia was scared. She is extremely innocent. 

This book is honest and promotes therapy. Toby needs a therapist to deal with his constant low self-worth and anger issues. With the help of Claudia and others around him, he is able to make drastic changes in his life. 

This story is about transformation and overcoming your own hurdles. Each person has something in their life that can be considered a horrific experience, but it is the way they overcome those challenges and obstacles that shapes who and what they become. 

Saving Toby is about second chancing and coming of age. It is about one coming to recognizing what is truly important. There is no way a person can help someone else, until they help themselves. Claudia was able to give confidence to Toby, while Mrs. Faye was able to help Claudia discover her inner strength. Powerful story. I wish I could say I couldn’t put it down, but that is not the truth. I was determined to finish the book. The overall story is really good and powerful.

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