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  • As Long as Love Lasts

  • By: Jea Hawkins
  • Narrated by: Lori Prince
  • Length: 9 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Romance
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

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Summary

2018 - She doesn't know if a marriage is worth fighting for.

Peyton Kennedy quantifies everything in terms of numbers and risk. She looks at a problem and solves it, leaving no piece of the puzzle out. When her young, too-whimsical wife inherits a derelict farmhouse from a distant aunt, Peyton can only see the bottom line. Too much work. Too much money. Time. Energy. Definitely not worth saving. 

But her wife knows how to get her way, and Peyton finds herself roped into renovations. This...this may be the straw that breaks her marriage's back, and Peyton's worried about how worried that makes her. That is, until a 70-year-old bundle of letters and a time-worn diary fall on her head.

Before she knows it, Peyton is drawn into the story of her wife’s great aunt, Marty, a woman who dared defy social conventions for the love of another woman. 

1939 - She doesn't know what love is.

Marty Bell thinks life will fall neatly into place. Her mother has expectations: a husband, wealthy enough to give Marty security for the rest of her days. When she meets a beautiful circus worker who shovels dung and pounds stakes for a living, it's the first time Marty sees that she can stray from the path.  

Soon, her life is dictated by not just her mother, but the upheaval of war and the one thing she never expected to find: love. And Marty will risk anything and everything to hold onto it.

Contemporary and historical lesbian romance intertwine in this emotional tale of a diary, an elephant, and four women who know that few things matter more than finding someone who loves them just the way they are.

©2018 Jea Hawkins (P)2019 Jea Hawkins

What listeners say about As Long as Love Lasts

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Emotional, sad and hopeful at the same time

Pets. Some people have cats (I have two), some have dogs. Some even have chinchillas. Marty Bell had an elephant. And that’s not even what’s most surprising about her story.

When her wife Brooke inherited her great-aunt Marty’s farm in upstate New York, Peyton Kennedy thought they’d sell it and go back to their life in New York City. Brooke insists on renovating the house and what Brooke wants, Brooke usually gets. Peyton knows how often undertaking such huge work can break a relationship, and their marriage is already shaky. But when they find a box full of letters and an old diary hidden behind drywall, Peyton immerses herself in Aunt Marty’s love affair with another woman, Vera, a circus worker.

Historical novels are not my go-to at all. I like them well enough when I read them, but they’re rarely my first choice. Neither are flashbacks. I shouldn’t have liked this book so much. And yet here I am, giving it five stars.

The letters and diary tell a story of young love (in every way, as Vera is seventeen and Marty eighteen when they first meet), discovery of oneself, of love, of loving someone of the same sex, of hoping for a future together and how life (and war) gets in the way, while, in parallel, Peyton and Brooke are a longish-term couple – they’ve been married for five years – in a rocky marriage. When the novel begins, Peyton is wondering whether it’s all worth the effort and keeps a divorce lawyer card in her wallet. The contemporary story is told from Peyton’s point of view so at first, all we see of Brooke is what Peyton is annoyed with. As the story develops, Brooke’s real personality breaks through and, through Peyton’s eyes, the reader gets to know a much less shallow and much more loving person. This couple seems doomed from the start yet Peyton comes to understand her wife is not the only one responsible for their problems and lets herself rediscover the woman she loves.

Vera and Marty’s story, beyond their love and the elephant (there really is an elephant but I am not spoiling this), opens a window onto the life of women in the late 1930s, WWII and later. Their characters show that, despite their environment, strong women managed to live independent and, to some degree, happy lives. The main message of the novel is how much has changed (and still needs to change) for women in general, and for lesbians especially, but also that badass women have always been around.

As Long As Love Lasts works really well as an audiobook. I love Lori Prince’s voice, I especially loved her voice for Brooke, and I’ll forgive the sometimes-awkward pauses for the way she says “desire”.

All this makes for an emotional read / listen, sad and hopeful at the same time, with so many feelings that I’m not recovered yet.

1 person found this helpful

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Past and Present

It was nice listening to this book, as I have not come across one like this before.

It had Peyton and Brooke who are married in the present day, but are having problems in their relationship. Brooke’s great aunt Marty has died and left her house to Brooke, when they are doing renovations Peyton finds letters/diary of Marty’s that are 70 years old. We then find out the story of Marty and Vera and how Marty came to get an elephant too.

In the book one chapter will be Peyton and Brooke’s story, then the next chapter we find out about Marty and Vera’s story. It is in the point of view of Peyton and Marty.

To be honest I couldn’t connect with the characters Peyton and Brooke in the present day story, I just didn’t like them, as there didn’t seem to be any chemistry between them.

For Marty and Vera’s story I was a little disappointed with the ending as I would have liked more information about their relationship. I do feel like it was 1 sided too in the love, as I felt Marty did love Vera very much.

It was well narrated.

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Didnt want it to end

Thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. It was well written and narrated and had great and believable characters. I didn't want it to end. Will look out for more books for this author.

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  • S
  • 20-12-19

Bittersweet with so many twists and turns - incredible!

Such a wonderful book! I seldom give 5 stars for a book, but this one... i just had to! I haven’t had tears in my eyes throughout the whole book before. The story is so bittersweet and eye opening, I could recommend it to anyone! Especially people looking for a historic/modern tale of love and all the twists and turns. Makes you realise how hard it must have been being “different than the norm” back in the day! Highly recommend.

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  • Jd
  • 19-12-19

Thank you

This is a clever, well thought out novel. I loved it. And no doubt will listen to it again and probably again.

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  • Ana
  • 24-12-19

Amazing!

Lovely story with great narration! Couldn’t put my phone down! Don’t pass this up. Love love love!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Lira D.
  • 08-01-20

Romance from the past is what kept me listening

The romance storyline from the past is what kept me listening. Like most others have said, I wasn't a fan of the current day storyline- the 2 just weren't very likeable or developed so I wasn't invested in their story. Now Marty, Vera and the elephant... I was all sucked into that story. I wish there had been more of that story. Overall it was well written and I love the concept. Lori's narration is great. I wasn't sure about the ending... only because they didn't spell it out for me and it made me feel like I was missing something. But the pre-ending was a nice plot twist.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Carey Durden
  • 06-04-20

Just Wow

This book was so well written that I had to stop several times just to savor the storyline. Beautiful story, so emotional. Don't let the book cover fool you, I was blown away and had to stop to look up who the Author was... It is now my favorite audio book I have ever listened to! Lori Prince is super talented and brings such depth to this book!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Erryn Barratt
  • 21-01-20

Parallel lives

I love layered and complex books that also have a simplicity to them. As Long As Love Lasts by Jea Hawkins is that book. The story starts out fairly simple – Peyton is on the verge of ending her marriage to Brooke and bubbly Brooke has no idea things are falling apart. The inheritance of Brooke’s great-aunt’s farm house is either going to make or break the marriage – as most reno projects are wont to do. The discovery of a trove of letters dating back more than half a century turns the women’s lives upside down. Suddenly Peyton has a good reason to stay married – if only to find out what happens to Brooke’s aunt, Marty.

Now, here is where I depart from the book. If I found a trove of letters and a diary, I would read them all in one or two days. Brooke and Peyton are disciplined, however, and take their time. Man, that frustrated me. Because I wanted to know how the story ended and instead I was taken on a beautiful journey that lasted nine hours. Time well spent, I promise you.

Marty was a young woman when she met circus carnie Vera. The attraction was almost instantaneous and the two women spent what little time they could together and although they made no promises, when the circus moved on, Marty held on to the hope she would see Vera again. They do, eventually, and here’s where the elephant comes in. You’ll just have to read to figure out how Alberta fits into the story but a few laughs on my part were had. I loved that the difficulties of being a lesbian in the 1940s and 1950s wasn’t glossed over – the women faced some tough challenges such as how to find a way to be together without being discovered. Of how to fall in love with someone while society expects something very different from you.

As Peyton and Brooke unravel the mystery of Vera and Marty, they have a few things in their lives they have to deal with. Because this journey into the past is either going to strengthen them or tear them apart. And, of course, there’s always the parallel journey of Vera and Marty.

The book is told in alternating chapters, the voice changing between Peyton and Marty. I loved this structure because it pulled me through the past and interwove present day, as I said, paralleling the two relationships. This is a Jea Hawkins romance, so I figured a happy ending was in the cards for the modern-day couple, I just didn’t know what would happen to the women from the past.

Lori Prince narrated this story and she was the perfect choice. She differentiated the four women clearly and even gave Vera that tobacco-laden voice. I was drawn into in the story and Lori held me there, richly immersed in both past and present. I always love the combination of Lori and Jea – I get well written and well performed books.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-01-20

How about a sequel?

I just finished listening to this and I thought it was a great story, particularly about Marty and Vera. It doesn’t stick to the formulaic lesbian romance fiction but So what?-that’s the way life is. Anyway, I would love to see a sequel where we get to learn Vera’s story beyond the surface.

1 person found this helpful

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  • cjldypyro
  • 03-01-20

As big as an elephant

Oh, what a book. The story grips you from the very beginning. I was pulling so hard for Brooke and Peyton. Wonderful story with superb narration. An elephant? Awesome. :)

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-01-22

Gut wrenching!!

I bawled through the last couple of chapters! Def a good one to listen to 100%

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Melanie
  • 07-01-22

LOVED this book.

This book had me ugly crying by the end of it and craving more. The aspect of time and relationships within this book brought all kinds of emotions. Parts of it I saw coming due to the timeline and I still couldn't help but react to it. I had let this book marinate in my to-listen pile for way too long and I'm so glad I finally downloaded it. It only took a few days because it was so good! Give it a listen, you won't regret it!

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  • Michelle Schry
  • 07-12-21

A story full of wonderful complexities.

A present day couple whose marriage is in the rocks learn to about a great aunt whose life and times conspired to keep her from the woman she loved. Wonderfully written and performed. Definitely one of my Top 5.

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  • JuJuBean
  • 19-11-20

Sweet and Romantic

This was one of those books that I was always unhappy to pause. Loved it!!