“She’s beauty for my ashes. And I’m hope for her heartache.”
What a gorgeous book!! Intense, addictive, equally heart-wrenching and heart-warming, this story captured my heart from the first chapter and is now one of my top favorites! I LOVED IT!!!
From the moment I read this blurb, I just knew this was a book I had to read.
I don’t know what makes a great love story... I only know what makes my love story. I only know that finding Cole when I did, when Emmy and I were running from a nightmare, was the only thing that saved me. That saved us.
He was more broken than I was, but somehow we took each other’s shattered pieces and made a whole. If that is what makes a great love story, if that is what makes an epic romance, then mine…ours is the greatest of them all.
The hero, Cole, was a mysterious and gorgeous man with a devastatingly painful past, and the heroine, Eden, was a single mom of a little girl on the run from a dangerous past. They first met when the girls moved into a beachside cottage that he owned. Their connection was intense, and even from that first moment, their lives changed… I really don’t want to tell you too much more about this story though than the blurb because one of the things I loved most about it was the experience of seeing it unfold as I read.
This is one of those almost magical stories where I just felt deeply connected to these characters’ right from the beginning and it only got stronger as I kept on reading. I have so much of my book highlighted — the writing was gorgeous, smooth-flowing, and captivating.
Something about him speaks to me. Calls to me almost. And I can’t shake it… It’s not even the tattoos scrawled up his ribs — the one on the left reading “always”, the one on the right reading “never”. No, there’s something else that brings me here…
He has this intense solitude about him. It’s as though the world has abandoned him. Or maybe that he’s abandoned the world. I can’t put my finger one it…He just appears to be alone. All alone.
I have to admit that books with heroes who are good with kids are my undoing. And guys who fall in love with single moms and both love and accept those children as their own adds this extra layer of emotion. Of course, with the deep pain in Cole’s past though, it made this story even more heart-breaking.
“This is my daughter, Emmy.”
“Hi, Emmy,” he greets, his voice softly scratchy as he addresses her. It brings chills to my arms and a lump to my throat. I imagine this is his daddy voice, the one that says you are loved and I would never hurt you. I hear it plain as day and my heart aches for his loss.
The tender kindness and understanding that Cole showed little Emmy (even before he knew what she’d been through) and the way he seemed to intuitively put this child at ease and communicate with her in a way that made her feel comfortable and safe at all times was heart warming to an extreme.
He moves to one side to step around me, letting Emmy drag him to the living room so she can show him her drawing. She picks it up and holds it out to him. He takes the paper gently from her fingers. It looks so small when it’s held in his big hands. He could so easily crumple it, probably crush it into dust, yet he doesn’t. He holds it delicately, as though it’s the most precious thing in the world…
The build up in this book was fantastic — there were two pasts that we had to learn about. What were Eden and Emmy running from? And what exactly had happened in Cole’s past that broke him? And the delicious push/pull between them as this connection between them grew stronger kept my heart racing!
I loved the way they were both quite open with each other. Once they’d established trust, they really genuinely talked with each other. It’s such a relief for me when I can really respect the characters’ decisions and I loved the way they were both quite expressive with their feelings.
“I don’t have anything to give you. I’m broken. More than I ever though I could be. But you can have what’s left of me. If you want it. You can have what little I have to give.”
I just want to give a little warning that Emmy’s past is quite horrifying in a different way than Cole’s because what happened to her wasn’t an accident — it was someone’s deliberate actions — and it may potentially be a trigger for some readers.
When Cole revealed his past to Eden, I really appreciated the way she was able to be strong enough to believe in them — that they could make it despite their pasts. She saw healing when he couldn’t, believed he could make it when he didn’t, and cared enough to see both of them through it.
“Sometimes I think broken people gravitate toward one another, like our shattered pieces connect on a level that unscarred people never know.”
I loved the ending!! I feel the need to explain that this book can indeed be read as a complete standalone (along with a gorgeous epilogue). There is an option to read essentially a second ending that leads into second book only if you want, but that is 100% optional. This book reads fully as a standalone with an amazing ending!
Without a doubt, this is one of my new top favorites of the year! I highly recommend it!
Rating: 4.5+ stars. Can be a standalone. Adult romance.