“Live this with me, just live it, whatever happens, however it happens, just live it with me…”
**HAPPY DANCE** oooo how I loved this book! It literally made me tremble with joy (yes, literally… and my husband is still teasing me about my incessant squeeing 😛 ). But seriously, its another gorgeous, swoony, emotional beautifully written KA book that had me in happy tears and clutching my heart more times than I could count.
Tanner Layne wakes up in a hospital bed after being riddled with bullets to find Rocky at his bed side. To say their history was a mess is an understatement. 18 years ago, they had a beautiful, know-in-your-heart-this-is-meant-to-be-forever kind of romance until suddenly, with no reason, Rocky left him. Devastated and unable to find the reason why, Layne left the ‘burg and moved forward with his life while leaving his heart behind. Heart broken and angry over Rocky’s unexplained departure from his life, his condom breaks one very drunk night giving him a son he adores but saddling him with a bitchy wife he feels duty bound to stand by. Trapped for years in a loveless marriage, the only good thing left in his life becomes his two sons. Now, in present day, his ex-wife has hooked up with a real asshole he doesn’t want around his two teenage sons, and he has come back to the ‘burg in an effort to give them a better life. But when he wakes up in the hospital and sees Rocky there for him, and then they start working together to bring down the dirty cop who shot him, it reawakens his feelings for her that were buried so deep by the hurt of their past that he didn’t realize how truly strong they still were.
“Layne knew he was in love with her. Not only that, he’d never stopped loving her. Not once, not for a second, not for twenty-one years.
The whole vibe of this book is a little different than the last two in the series (For You and At Peace). It really snuck up on me because while it seemed a lot quieter and more subtle in its intensity, it packed quite the emotional punch. I cried several times (usually happy or just overly emotional tears), squeed, laughed, swooned and really just felt a lot while reading it. Something about it really spoke deep. Deep family connections, deep bonding, deep love and healing. Just. So. Freaking. Gorgeous.
And while there is still very much of the typical ‘badass’ feel that all KA books have, it has that while being very strongly family-relationship focused. It felt very real. There is a lot of family stuff that is just utterly gorgeous and because Layne has two sons (the oldest being 18), its basically a badass KA Alpha man raising KA Alpha boys – total mega swoon going on there!! I cannot possibly tell you guys how much I ADORED seeing Layne and his sons bond. Definitely led to a lot of tears and heart clutching <3
Another thing that’s different is that the whole book is from Layne’s POV! I loved seeing the life, thoughts and actions of a KA Alpha man so continuously. By always seeing the story from his POV, you totally sympathized with his lack of knowledge about the break up and were just as curious as he was to uncover the reason behind it, and you saw him fall back in love with Rocky and got to see the romance build through his eyes.
The romantic relationship part of this story is a slow, subtle but beautiful build. Its not like they see each other and the clothing articles go a-flyin’. The romance creeps up on them as they slowly and naturally ease back into the “forever” couple they were always intended to be while working out the issues left over by so many unanswered questions. *dreamy sigh* … oh, and the sexy times were HOT!! “Hands to the wall.” *fans self*
There IS a bad guy, but, unlike in previous books in this series, he isn’t really directly targeting Layne or Rocky, but rather actually serves to being them closer to each other as they work together to bring him down.
And then there is the whole issue of Rocky’s big secret – why did she leave Layne 18 years ago?? We don’t find out until late in the story – the build up is subtle but intense! As the theories started piling up in my head, I was on emotional overload. Full body chills, tears, the whole shebang!
I loved watching them come together, watching Rocky open up to him again, watching him making her feel safe, and seeing them meld their lives back together.
“I remember, Rocky. I remember everything. I remember every… fucking… thing.”
Layne was such a gorgeous Alpha. But he was open, honest, fair, loyal, no bullshit, no lies, no games. Just seeing him pass on his wisdom and teaching his sons to be the best men they could be both through his words and by practicing what he was preaching and always being there for his woman, respecting her, loving her, protecting her… helping those in need, bringing his family together… absolutely beautiful, totally swoony, and heart-melting!! <3
“Seen a lot of things, done a lot of things, wounds to the flesh hurt but they heal fast. Wounds to the soul never go away. It’s how we cope with a pain that never dies that makes us the people we are. Daily, people demonstrate acts of courage just so they can get through the night.. there are warriors and then there are warriors. In your Dad’s bed lies a warrior. Learn from her, boy.”
Rocky was a wonderful heroine. She had guts, was strong on her own, stubborn and driven. She drove Layne a little crazy sometimes with how strong she was, but that was great fun to read cuz it brought out his swoony extra protective side. But she also had a lot of buried hurt, a lot of deep understanding for love and a beautiful heart. She was the perfect match for Layne.
There were so many times in the story when I’d just be sitting there reading with tears in my eyes and my hand over my mouth… beautiful, emotional, deep. Love, love, love!
The story also ties into the previous two books in the series. We see a lot of Colt & Feb and Cal & Vi and their girls… them all living in the ‘burg together and all being in the business of protecting people, their lives intersect a lot. And its totally awesome!
I know I’ve said this a few gazillion times before, but seriously. KA writes THE. BEST. MEN. EVER. (who am I kidding, she writes pretty much the best EVERYTHING ever, but I digress). My heart just overflows with the emotions that their stories and actions wring from me and their stories settle so deeply in my heart, I feel like I know these characters personal. Utterly BRILLIANT writing. That woman has a true gift. Her writing style is just so badass. She makes absolutely everything seem larger than life and epically cool and yet so down-to-earth, real and intimate that it feels like its just you and the world you are reading about and you can just lose yourself in the words and feel like you are right freaking there.
Oh, and there is a GORGEOUS epilogue at the end of this book featuring all the characters we’ve seen in this series so far… KA’s epilogues leave you with the most wonderful, happy, full feelings ever. They leave you with the knowledge and deep certainty that everyone in them has the beautiful happy ending they deserve. *happy tear*
Rating: 5 stars!!
** SERIES READING ORDER **