“I don’t know the what, when, where, or why about my life, but… I suddenly know the who.”
This series has been an addictive ride from the start!! Both books have deep emotions, beautiful second chances, and hot swoon-filled romances with unique twists and gorgeous Alpha male heroes!!
While this story can be read on it’s own, it’s closely interconnected with the first book (read my review) so I strongly recommend reading them in order because this one picks up right after that one left off even though it’s about a different couple.
This story is about Caleb. We met him first in Changing Course as Brett’s best friend. Those two men (both police officers) lost the women they each loved in a horrific car crash four years prior to the start of the first book and it forever changed their lives. Brett finally found happiness and healing again, and this time it was Caleb’s turn. But his journey certainly wasn’t easy as he fell for Emma, the sister of the woman he blamed for the death of his fiancee…
I mean, whoaaa, right?? Talk about an emotionally complicated situation!!
My heart just broke for Caleb as we saw the pain he lived in each day since the loss of woman he’d loved…
“I loved her harder than any person should be allowed. If I’m being honest with myself, I still love her like that. It’s been almost five years and Manda Baker still owns my heart.”
“My fingers glide over the indentation of her name. I hate this fucking headstone, and not just because it has the date signifying the end of her life. I hate it because it says ‘Manda Baker.’ No matter how many times I see it, it always burns… Her headstone should read Jones. She was mine, and the entire world should know it.”
But when Emma walks into his life, for the first time since Manda’s death, his heart skips a beat…
“Damn it, why the fuck does she have to be Sarah’s sister? That one relationship complicates everything… I can’t touch Emma. No matter how much I want to. It would be seven million shades of fucked up when things got messy.”
I really love it when authors are able to give their characters such distinct voices and personalities. Caleb and Emma were nothing like Brett and Jesse. In fact, the whole vibe of this book was different than the first book. Even though these two stories clearly complimented each other, they were very distinct.
Emma was bold, daring, and fun. She was always challenging Caleb and I loved seeing her almost bring him out of the shell he’d created around himself since Manda’s death. She was open, understanding, and accepting of his past and just a really wonderful self-assured woman. Can I just say how much I *love* it when heroines aren’t stupid?? It’s such a relief!!
“Hey, Caleb?… I’m serious about Manda. I don’t have an issue with you having a past. I’m not an insecure girl who is trying to compete with her memory.”
That being said, she wasn’t perfect either and certainly made mistakes too…. but so did Caleb. And while there were certainly times when I wanted to shake each of them, I think it’s very human and understandable to make mistakes and both of their hearts were always in the right place.
What I loved about Caleb was that he was this amazing guy who loved with all his heart and soul, was kind and protective, and all-round a good guy… but he was also flawed. He carried a lot anger, resentment, and hurt that led him to be a real jerk at times but the author did a wonderful job with the way she portrayed his flaws because she always showed us where he was coming from. The title of this book really is how he saw his life: stolen away. Not only was the woman he loved torn away from him but they’d had unresolved issues between them that both scarred his heart and made it hard for him to lay things to rest.
Together, Emma and Caleb were pretty explosive — both in a good and bad way. They had intense sexual chemistry but their personalities sparked against each other in such a way that they fought hard and loved hard and consequently their road wasn’t an easy one. It was kind of a “stubborn, fiesty woman meets angry, hurting (sometimes) asshole with a heart of gold” type situation. But I feel like, in real life, you’re rarely thrown into “perfect” scenarios so I loved how, in some ways, they were not a “perfect” match because it made their screw ups more understandable and it made their eventual happiness feel very well earned.
Of course it wasn’t all intense, because they certainly also had their cute moments 😉
“So you love me, huh?” I smile.
He holds up his fingers about an inch apart and says, “Little bit.”
Oh, and let’s not forget his crazy hot tattooes. You saw that cover right?? Well those are actually Caleb’s tattoos. (I’ll give you a minute to go scroll up or down to look… *pauses* …. Fuckhot right?? )
“You have ink!”
“Do you have a problem with that?”
Sweet Mother of Hotness. “No. I love them.” Are there seriously women out there who have issues with tattoos? Because they shouldn’t be allowed to run loose in society.
Teehee!!! And let’s not forget the bedroom hotness (“Hold on to the headboard, baby.” ) … or the swoon…
“I’m going to kiss you… Then I’m going to make love to you… And then we are going to make plans to spend the next one hundred years together.”
This story really was a beautiful example of how, if you don’t give up on each other, love can find a way to heal even the worst hurts.
In my review notes, one of the things that I wrote down over and over again was how real these characters felt. I felt like I knew these people in real life. They were imperfect, flawed individuals each with their own distinct personalities and I really just loved going on this journey with them.
I also really liked how the “bad guys” in this story weren’t evil people. Rather, they were just people who’d made the wrong choices in life often even with the best of intentions. I just felt again, like it made them so much more real (see, there’s that word again).
There were twists I didn’t see coming (two of them in fact) but I absolutely loved the direction they spun the story in. I don’t want to say anything about them though because it’s more fun if you discover it for yourself. But I will say that the ending was beautiful and it truly brought the whole story full circle. I read it with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.
Both books in this series had unique stories with emotionally charged romances that were both heart melting and heart wrenching. I loved them and highly recommend them!!
Rating: 4.5 stars. Spin-off standalone Adult Romance.
*** SERIES READING ORDER ***
Interconnected standalones. Should be read in order.