Sometimes inspiration lies in truly unexpected places. And it’s not true just for the movies, but for books, too. As I was going through yet another heartbreak early this year caused by yet again the same man (let’s call him my Mr. Big as that seems accurate), I felt exhausted and in need of some love.. Love that would inspire me and give me hope that even I will be able to fall in love again, one day not too far away from now. Although it seemed very unlikely. For the starters, I didn’t really want to.

I badly needed to escape my reality, but couldn’t force myself to read any kind of romance – that just felt like another form of self-torture. Then one day, I popped into a bookstore looking for some inspiration and something that could possibly provide the much-needed escape. I came across a chick-flick book which bore two magical words in its title: New York.

New York. My all time favorite place in the world. The only place that seemed to inspire me no matter what. The only place that seemed to be able to spark some love and passion in me despite feeling emotionally exhausted. New York, my one true love. So it seems.

I searched the book online later that day to check some reviews, but by chance came across another book – New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan.

new york actually

Also set in New York, the title held a reference to one of my favorite romantic movies, so that seemed like a good sign. The cover was purple. Another good sign. The heroine of the book was Molly, a girl who didn’t want get involved with any man and instead considered the only love of her life to be her Dalmatian. So much better than any man could ever be. It sounded too much like me. With just one click and without much hesitation I ordered the book as it seemed as exactly the type of story I needed.

Originally, I intended to take it with me on what was supposed to be an epic adventure through Canada, but as I decided to postpone this trip due to my lack of finance to make the trip as epic as I wanted it, I took it along on my first true solo adventure to Madrid. I’ve had the book some two months prior to my journey there, but somehow felt like I needed to read it in a totally unfamiliar environment where nothing could remind me of anything or anyone..

Without truly believing I could read it within the 6 days of my Madrid vacation, I opened the book on the airport while waiting for my flight. I couldn’t quite put it down ever since.

Truth is, I’ve never been into this type of literature. I think there were times when I actually despised it. Cheap chick-flick books about love and its struggles with the inevitable happy endings.. No, thank you. I can do better than that. Or so I thought. Turns out, life can get so hard sometimes, that you find yourself in need of this type of light read and the guaranteed happy endings. And even if it’s not exactly a high literature, this book will forever stay precious to me. Why? Because… well, it made me believe in love again.

After losing the guy I was convinced to be the one (yes, I’m a hopeless romantic though with quite a few cynical traits which probably keeps it all in balance) I couldn’t imagine being interested in anyone else ever again, let alone to fall in love. How could I when I’ve had the best I could possibly have? It’s like having the best chocolate cake in the world (yes, I love chocolate cakes) and knowing that no other cake you’ll ever try can come any close. This is it for you, the search is over, you’ve found the perfect one. But what if you can’t have a lifetime supply? What if they only make it at the one place you know you will never return to?

It was so bad, I couldn’t even fall in love with any of my former on-screen-loves (with a single exception of Daniel Craig as James Bond). None of the perfect guys on screen would spark even the smallest of sparks of imagination… None of them seemed hot enough. That was the most frustrating part. I mean, how can you even start to dream of someone else when not even all these on-screen hunks are of any interest to you! No fantasies going on. Zero. I was convinced I’m a lost case.

So, you can imagine my surprise when half way through this book I realized I actually did fall in love. I fell in love with a book character. Yes! Now, I know a book character is not a real person… but it was such a huge step forward for me, that I felt like I should celebrate it! It was like if I broke through ice, or if I just woke up after a long winter sleep. It was like if I was learning to breathe again. I was falling for a book character. Yes. It doesn’t matter that he’s not real, what matters is, he sparked my desire and my imagination… I wanted to meet a guy like him. I felt like I might be on my way to be healed.

After finishing the book in shorter time than a week – yes, I did manage to finish it before returning home (honestly I just couldn’t put it down!), I immediately ordered more books from Sarah Morgan’s From Manhattan With Love series. I was hooked and after saying goodbye to Molly and Daniel (my new man of dreams!) I felt like I’m missing my love drug. I wanted to go back to that world.

So next I picked Miracle on 5th Avenue (yes, I know, I am reading the series backwards, but it doesn’t really matter). This time it was Lucas, the male hero of the book who was refusing love. And then there was Eva. Eva who was his complete opposite, the ultimate believer in love. Somebody, I felt I used to be, too..

smiracle on 5th avenueDespite feeling like this book is far from being as good as New York, Actually, and the ending being way over the top for my tastes, it seemed like another step towards my complete healing. Where New York, Actually showed me I can fall in love again, Miracle on 5th Avenue made me realize I actually want to fall in love. Badly. And that was a major step forward for me. It felt like my healing process was done. I felt free. Finally.

In New York, Actually I totally identified with Molly – her denial of being in love, her doubts about actually being able to fall in love… her fears. But with Miracle on 5th Avenue it was different. Parts of me resonated with Eva – the ultimate dreamer, believer in love and the all-time optimist. She reminded me of whom I used to be… or have I really..? Reading the book made me think, I probably only ever wanted to be like her, but never really was. Or maybe a long, long time ago, before my heart got broken and my trust betrayed.

I used to see the best in people but the more I read the book, the more I realized I’m so much more like Lucas nowadays. Always looking for the dark sides. And same as Lucas, I needed somebody to tell me and show me all that Eva did to him. That not everyone is to be mistrusted. That not everyone have anything to hide. That not all love is the same and not all love is the same struggle. That some love can even be simple. That one failure, doesn’t mean you’re always gonna fail or that it was all your fault. That there is a different ending to each story. And it was Eva’s determination to meet somebody, to fall in love and stop hiding from the world that made me realize I want the same as her.  Although, I will probably never go for it so boldly.

However, probably the most valuable lesson found in this book was that there is no universal deadline for you to heal. When one person can get over losing somebody in couple of weeks or months, it doesn’t mean you have to heal in the same time. It can take you years. And that’s alright. We all need time to heal and only we know how much. There is no rule for that. It doesn’t make you anything less if it will take you three times longer than to all your friends. No one is going through the same thing as you, and only you know the truth and the depth of your feelings. This was such a huge comfort to me!

Sometimes unexpected meetings can provide this much-needed breakthrough. Sometimes all you need is a book. The right book at the right time, even if it’s something you never picked before. Trust your instincts. After all, behind every story no matter how romantic and sugar-coated is a real story, real experience, real feelings. And if you’re lucky, some great storytelling, too. And even if sometimes, in the case of these two books, I felt like they need a bit more editing to prevent the stories from being too repetitive, Sarah Morgan excels at creating characters that are highly relatable and believable.

You might despise this kind of literature, but maybe one day, it will heal you. And as for me, I am about to start with my third book by Sarah and open myself to love!

…because even if you’ve already had the best chocolate cake there will ever be, it won’t stop you from trying to find one that could come close, right? OR even surpass it. Cause you never know.. It might take you a long time, but what if one day you discover you were wrong? That there is a better cake after all? Wouldn’t you hate to miss it? I certainly would. Because I love cakes. And even those, that are not as good as the best one, are still pretty delicious and I would hate to sacrifice them for that one perfect slice which I might never have again..

Now… if I only knew where to find guys like those in Sarah’s books. New York City..? I knew it! 😉

After all, my best chocolate cake came from there, too  😉