Now, I’ll say right up front that if stuff like spousal abuse is a trigger for you, you might not find this to be an easy read. The author doesn’t shy away from the realities of abuse. The only trigger I personally have is dead dogs (seriously, there’s no good reason to EVER kill a dog in a romance novel), so I wasn’t terribly bothered by what was depicted here. I felt like the level of detail help me connect to the heroine, Camryn. But if you’re a sensitive reader, all I can say is proceed with caution. (And I think you SHOULD proceed. You’ll be missing out on a great read if you don’t.)
The hero, Brecken, has gone through a terrible ordeal that has irrevocably changed him. Pretty much the only thing that hasn’t changed is how he feels for Camryn, his high school sweetheart.
“I feel lost. My old life feels like a dream, and this one feels like I’m living someone else’s life. The only time I feel hints of my old self is when I’m …” His head turned toward the window as he closed his mouth. He wasn’t going to finish his sentence. Then his head rotated back to where I was hovering at the sink, his eyes clearing. “When I’m with you.” His words echoed off the kitchen walls. “I remember who I was, who I am, when I’m with you.”
Now, I’m not much of a crier. There’s not much that breaks me down. Titanic? Bah. I never liked Jack anyway. Me Before You? Pfffttt. Nope. Not a single tear. But there was one scene, early in the book, when Brecken comes home after being held prisoner for so long and he sees Camryn for the first time in years—and folks, even I (the consummate grumpy old bitch) got a little choked up. I might’ve even had to grab a tissue. It was a beautiful scene. Truly.
I can see where some readers might have a problem or two with Camryn as a heroine. It’s true that early on in the story, she comes across as a little weak. There were a couple of points where I wanted to yell at her, shake her, and say, “Why don’t you just leave him!!” But the story, her story, is much more complicated than that. The more you read, the more you understand why she made some of the choices she made. (And they aren’t great choices, but she was doing the best she could. I can’t even hate on her for it.)
But while it took me a few chapters to warm up to Camryn, Brecken, on the other hand, was a rock star of a book boyfriend from the jump. He’s scarred and brooding and a little broken, but has such a big heart that I couldn’t help but adore him.
All in all, I’d highly recommend this one to fans of slightly angsty contemporary romance, and heart-warming second-chance romances. 2 thumbs up!
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
Crushes it! This one is clean and sober. No rehab needed.
Other reading suggestions
This book was beautifully written enough that I’ll for sure be checking out the Nicole Williams backlist. And beyond that, check out our picks for the best angsty romance reads and our favorite second-chance romances.