Next to You by Dulcie Dameron Review
A clean romance with physical and invisible disibility Representation :) This is my second read from the 23 in 2023 #blacklistbook23 challenge. All the books on my 23 in 2o23 list have representation and I am so excited. If you haven’t read this book, then you are seriously missing out!! I devoured this book, which for a slow reader is difficult to do. 😂 I’ve just been pondering my review because I wanted to do this book justice. And on top of it, Dulcie Dameron is such a beautiful human and wonderful to connect with on IG! ❤️
“Handicapped. He turned away from the two women, clenching his jaw against the irritation that hummed through his body. He hated when people had to make special concessions for him due to his condition. And he especially hated that word.”
Things I adored:
👩❤️👨 Representation in two characters!
🩺 Invisible and physical Disability Rep!
🧠 Mental Health Awareness
🌟 Faith Aspects that make your heart swell
💋 Such gentle and sweet swoon
🕯️ The Candle Shop
❤️ Casey trying to figure out how to approach Shyla
📖 The “Safe Haven” Vibes (One of my favorite Nicholas Sparks Books!)
🍿🎥 Read this novel if you like movies like: Safe Haven, Me Before You (But with a HEA), Intouchables, Enough, and Sleeping with the Enemy
Can I just say that a novel has never had me hooked at the dedication. But this one brought tears to my eyes and hit home. “To everyone who has ever felt like their pasts made them unworthy, undeserving and undesirable. "… he makes all things new…’” And this is very indicative of how this whole novel reads. Dameron’s prose is powerful and relatable. My Kindle highlighter was out in full force. For anyone who has been mistreated in a relationship this book is for you! For anyone whose past makes them feel unlovable this one this one is for you!
I was completely swept up in the story. The representation and faith aspects were more than a breath of fresh air, they were exactly what I needed! Very few writers are brave enough to bring this much representation to a novel and Dameron gives us two characters with exceptional representation. The physical and invisible disability is wonderfully portrayed! And on top of that, we have the sweetest love story. Casey is so gentle with Shyla. I love that we get his POV and see how much care he takes in approaching her after learning of her background with domestic abuse. And when he pulls her into his lap in his wheelchair for a kiss . . . oh, the swoon is just perfect!! It’s a representation kiss that is done impeccably! My only wish was that Shyla would have fought more when everything came to a head. However, I know in instances of domestic abuse this can be more of a fantasy than a reality. But I really was yearning to see more of that.
I can’t wait to visit River Hollow again! More than anything, I want to thank the author for providing such a powerful story of two wounded souls who fit perfectly together. And for showing us that our past doesn’t have to define our present. That we can indeed be lovable no matter our baggage–no matter how insurmountable we feel it may be. Trust me, this one is a win!
CW: Mention of Domestic Abuse, Some mild scenes of abuse
“What if God placed Casey in her life to remind her that she wasn’t alone? Something about him made her feel like he understood… like he was a kindred spirit, of sorts.”
Spoonie Discussion Questions
Have you read a book with PTSD representation before?