“Everything in my life seems to bring me to you.”
This book was a non-stop roller coaster ride that I could not put down from the moment I started reading. Let me warn you though that it is not for the faint of heart. Part of the storyline is raw, dark and intensely gritty, but it’s also deeply, beautifully, and painfully romantic. It’s an emotional, erotic love story that just had this spark that kept my heart racing the whole way through. I absolutely loved it!!!
“I’m not good at much in this world… But I’m good at loving you,” I whispered.
I guess you could call it a second chance romance, but it would be more accurately described as a romance between a couple reunited years after a traumatic experience drove them apart. Kane and Helene (he calls her Hell) had been best friends in high school — an unlikely match with him being the popular and untouchable bad boy, and her being a more quiet and studious type — who cared deeply for each other and likely would have ended up together as a couple shortly after if a brutal attack hadn’t destroyed their lives. (I’m going to insert a spoiler tag below because I want to be very upfront that this part of the book likely has triggers for some readers.) Unable to cope with the trauma, Kane unexpectedly left town one night and she never heard from him again until a decade later when he walked into the university class she was now teaching… as a student. Despite the pain and years of separation, their connection and pull towards each other hadn’t diminished. She naturally had questions, but he couldn’t give her all the answers. Not yet. But he also couldn’t stay away from her and they slowly but carefully rekindled their romance… while working together to help each other heal and finally confront the past that had shattered them once before.
I looked up. “Kane.” I said his name and nothing more, but it was too breathy, too quiet.
“Hell.” He walked toward me slowly, his face sly and mischievous. He’d always had that countenance to him — as though nothing, not life, not nightmares, not boogiemen, nor monsters could rattle him. I’d loved that about him once. Of course it wasn’t true, and he was just as vulnerable to the monsters as I was.
Before anything, I want to address the dark part of the book because when I was originally considering reading this book, I desperately wanted to know what to expect and I couldn’t find this information anywhere. In the hidden spoiler link down below, I’m going to include full details what what this story element is so that you can make an informed decision whether or not it’s something you want to read.
She reached for my stomach, letting her palm cover the four inch scar that ran from my navel to the left side of my abdomen. It was her scar as much as mine, and she knew damn well she didn’t need my permission to touch it.
The main couple share a very painful past which could include triggers for some readers. It is genuinely horrific and not glossed over. (Note: there are several chapters – the flashbacks – near the beginning that had me questioning whether I could or even wanted to handle this story at all, but I’m so glad I kept going). Kane and Helene do get through it and past it, and their journey back together and the way they helped each other heal through their undeniable and undying love for each other was just gorgeous.
Going back to the dark though, I can say that I honestly almost stopped reading during one of the flashbacks because I just felt it was too much. Like really, I did not want that much detail. It was horrifically painful and kinda drawn out. I think readers who are used to darker romance will be fine with the scenes (okay, not rainbows-and-unicorns fine, but you’ll be able to handle it) and others will potentially be totally turned off the book by it. It’s really fucking brutal, okay? Please just be warned.
For full details, read the spoiler below.
“Can’t we just forget about the monsters?” he whispered, his lips touching and teasing my earlobe. “All I want to remember is us.”
So, without a doubt, what they’d been through together was scarring in the worst way, and how Kane especially had handled it made things even more painful. The eleven years of separation had left many emotional gaps between them but their connection to each other had never faded and despite the rocky terrain they had to go over on their journey back together, you could just tell that they were both trying so hard to be functional and healthy together in an open, honest way. They were committed to each other to the point where I couldn’t help but believe that they belonged together.
I loved the way they just kept gravitating back to each other — always back to each other. Even though their worst memories were with each other, they were each also the only person with whom the other truly felt safe — both emotionally and physically. Everything about the emotions they went through made sense to me. The hesitation, the guilt, the questions, the desperation to reconnect, the love that kept pulling them together. Both their pain and their joy was portrayed in such a believable fashion.
“What do you want from me?” Tears fell down her cheeks…
“I need to be close to you,” I admitted, feeling my lips tremble to. “Please let me be close to you… I want to talk to you, and I want you to talk to me. I want to touch you, and I want you to touch me, too. I want to hold you.” I gave up hiding the tears, and when I blinked they ran down my cheeks… “I want all of you, regardless of the fact I deserve nothing from you… We deserve to go back and be us again. Not the the us that came after that night. The us before. We were good for each other. I was good for you once — even if no one else in the world saw it or understood that.”
This book is explicitly erotic so it’s definitely an Adult romance. Kane’s a dirty talker and they do spend a lot of time reconnecting sexually as well as emotionally. Despite how much sex there is in the book, I honestly didn’t feel it was too much. It made sense for the story and given the nature of their shared trauma, it made sense to me that they’d use it in part as a way of healing.
“Please don’t make me a bad memory. Let me be a good one.”
It’s worth mentioning again that my favorite part of this book was reading about characters who are trying their best to make a healthy relationship work despite many outside factors working against them. Another good example of this is the Crossfire series. Their shared triumphs and pitfalls, ups and downs, and they way they worked together to be together is what I love to read about most.
“You’re saying the emotional side of all this is more complicated?”
“Do you see it any other way?” he asked.
I turned my body toward him… “No, I don’t.”
“Hey.” He pulled my face to look at him… “Complicated is okay.”
Another thing I really liked were the scenes in her classroom where they discussed various philosophical aspects that inevitably were turned back around in a way that actually brought the story very much ‘full circle’ by the end. I thought the integration of this particular aspect of the story was very well done and greatly helped to provide balance to the story.
Please be aware that even though I loved this book, I do not think that it will be something that every single reader will necessarily love because of the darker elements. Again, if you’re hesitant, please read the spoiler tag above to help you make an informed decision. I always get nervous recommending books that have this level of grit to them because I don’t want a more sensitive reader to be too shocked by it’s content. That being said, if you’re the kind of reader who craves dark, gritty, emotionally intense stories then you definitely have to give this book a shot. Hopefully this review will help make the decision easy.
For the record though, there is nothing else dark about this book other than their past. Their present is just about healing and coping and finding a way to rebuild their lives together. But there’s no more dark.
“I’ve missed you so fucking much,” he said quietly. “Nothing has made sense in my life without you.”
As you get closer to the end, you slowly become aware of what Kane is planning and OMG my heart sank. I understood why he wanted to do it, but I was soooo worried. I desperately flipped the pages unsure about whether or not I wanted him to go through with it or not. Like their philosophy discussions in class, this was such a grey area and I desperately needed to know they’d be okay. By 95% I was seriously freaking the fuck out. But I can reassure you without giving away too much that this book has a truly beautiful ending (that includes an epilogue). It’s completely satisfactory in a way where you could really tell that the author put in the thought to genuinely bring their story full circle.
“We’re going to be okay,” I said as I wrapped my arms around her. I had no doubt she could be okay all on her own without my presence in her life. But I also had no doubt I never would be without her. “We’re going to be okay,” I repeated.
The story is told in first person perspective and alternating points of view between Kane and Helene. The story is separated into four main parts and the first part includes flashbacks to that night. But other than that, the rest of the storyline is present-day and forward moving. I really enjoyed the writing. The author paid attention to all the right details in a way that really made me able to connect strongly with the story on an emotional level. And the steam factor is HIGH. This is definitely an erotic romance.
I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down even for a moment. It was a really fantastic blend of raw gritty edginess, steamy erotic romance, and intensely emotional healing that kept me glued to the page with my heart racing. It’s not a story for the faint of heart, but it’s most definitely a new favorite for me!
“Everything in my life seems to bring me to you.”
Rating: 4.5 stars. Contemporary Adult Romance Standalone
(trigger warning, see above)
PS: just a personal note. I wrote this review literally right after I finished reading the book because I wanted to get the explanations out ASAP for readers who wanted it. Usually I sit on my thoughts overnight and take more time to edit my reviews. So I apologize for any repetition or typos in this one.