“We were just us. Broken and bruised. Fucked up and messy. And together we were everything we never though we could be.”
This book was just… WOAH!!
After several readers told me that this was one of the best books they’d read this year, I decided to try out the first chapter just to get a taste of what they were talking about… welp, three hours later it was 4AM and I was sitting there still reading and unable to put it down. It just quietly drew me in and didn’t let go.
I love books that can take me by surprise and this was one of them! It was totally unpredictable! I find it so refreshing to genuinely feel like the story is taking you for a ride. And what a crazy ride this one was!!
Dark, gritty, a touch sexy, very brutal and unforgiving at times, but also beautiful and heartwarming… And it had that delicious quiet angsty feeling I love so much where you feel like you just need for things to be okay but you’re not quite sure how it’s ever going to be able to get there.
And in the second half, things got intense!! I mean ohhhhh boy!!! The stuff that happens is like one sucker punch after another. I’m not kidding. This book knocks you to the ground and then kicks you when you’re down. Over and over again. But… it also picks you back up and helps you heal.
This was not a fairy tale. This was not a fluffy romance. This was not your “typical” romance. This was a dark, gritty, sometimes twisted, story of two abuse survivors, scarred both inside and out by their pasts who found something in each other that helped them both not only to feel whole again and to heal but also to embrace their darker sides and to learn that “love isn’t always found in the light.”
“We were looking right into each other. Broken soul to broken soul.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. First, a little about the book….
It’s been years since Jake went back to the small town he came from. When his last remaining family turned against him, he left and didn’t look back and went on to become a professional hitman for hire…
“I contributed nothing and took everything. But to be fair about it, I also expected nothing from the godless world that ripped me apart at every turn. I expected nothing, until the night I met a certain redhead with attitude.
The night I met Abby Ford, my life changed forever.”
When Abby loses her grandmother in a freak explosion, she is left alone in the world ten months shy of her 18th birthday. Determined not to be thrown back in “the system” that has failed her over and over again and left her permanently scarred, she runs away and hides out for the night in a junkyard.
“I wasn’t the happy ending type… I was the fucked-up kid that fucked-up shit happened to. Why had I ever though I deserved more?”
That’s where she meets Jake — gorgeous, tattooed, with bright blue eyes and deep dark secrets. Their meeting was not a conventional one (ohhh no!) and neither was their relationship, but somehow it worked perfectly for them…
“I fell asleep that night in the arms of a killer. I’d never slept better.”
I really don’t want to say too much more about the plot because it’s worth discovering their journey for yourselves. It was an intense, emotional roller coaster. As a result of their respective nightmares, both Abby and Jake had built up such high walls guarding their hearts that it wasn’t easy for them to get to know each other.
“We’re all a little damaged, Bee. Some of us more than others.”
There were so many unanswered questions as they tried to figure each other out…
“Why do you carry a gun?”
“I’ve answered this one for you before. Because there are some dangerous people out there.”
“Yeah. But you’ve never said if you were one of them or not.”
“What if I am? … Would it matter?”
Abby’s walls were especially high. Over and over again, she’d learned the hard, brutal way not to trust anyone so it was very hard for her to let Jake in… but he was persistent. He made her feel safe. And for the first time in her life, she found someone who made her feel worthy of love.
“I want to help you. I want to hold you. I want to make it all okay for you. I want to fucking touch you because you’re the most beautiful person I’ve seen, and I can’t imagine never being able to hold your hand or kiss you.”
Jake was such an interesting guy. He was… hmmm, well, let’s just say he wasn’t your average hero. His secrets were dark and gritty (just like the book) but also heart breaking, tragic and downright chilling in places. But he had this badass protective side to him that just made me trust him without question. And Abby did too. I think she could sense that this guy would move mountains to keep her safe.
“I loved all of him, the good and the bad, the light and the dark.”
Abby’s past was downright horrific. Gruesome. The very worst of the worst of the worst. The people she’d been subject to were just sick and she’d been left scarred both inside and out, never able to escape the nightmares of her past. When she opened her eyes, she could see them; when she closed her eyes, she could remember them.
My heart just broke over and over again for both Abby and Jake, but especially for Abby. This girl had been through hell. Literal hell. But she was one tough girl. Despite being utterly screwed over by life again and again and again, she was so resilient and never let anyone push her down for good.
Now, the first half of the book was good and I couldn’t put it down. But HOLY. HELL. The second half just had my heart in my throat!!! It was one shocker after another. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse – BAM!!!! It took me by surprise several times and in places, it was just a steady stream of me sitting there going ohmyGodohmyGodohmyGodohmyGod!! …. INTENSE!!!
Guys, this book is not for the faint of heart. It. does. not. hold. back.
This might sound weird but the second half kind of had a similar vibe to The Sweet Gum Tree (which is one of my most favorite books, so this is a big compliment) mixed in with shades of Dexter (yup, for real) and almost a smidge of Kristen Ashley-like badass too… I’m trying to explain it here without spoilers which is not easy. And this is just describing the vibe alone, ‘cuz the plot itself was really unlike any other I’ve read.
Ok now the ending. First thing you should know is that it is a HEA. No cliffhanger, no loose ends, no tragic ending, and no lead-in to a sequel. The story is done, finished, complete and wrapped up. But… now I understand the meaning of a “twisted HEA”. Don’t be scared off, it’s still 100% a HEA, guys. I promise. But it’s just….. a leeeeetle bit twisted. It’s hard to explain without spoilers so I’m going to be very vague here but it was very “interesting” to get inside Jake’s head — he was this amazing guy, protective to an extreme, willing to go to any lengths to keep his family safe. Any. Lengths. He wasn’t a danger to society or anything but the epilogue was borderline creepy… Um, lets just say that I am reeeeeeally glad he was a good guy ‘cuz the world would be a scary as fuck place with him in it as a bad guy. But I can say that I absolutely fell for him. I loved him and I loved his role in Abby’s life. I loved how protective he was and how much he loved her because that much was undeniable. That man loved Abby – body and soul.
This really was a fantastic read!! I love books that push the envelope and step outside the box. I love the unpredictability of not knowing where the book will turn next. This book took me on a crazy, emotional, gritty ride and I loved the whole thing. I couldn’t put it down and didn’t want to stop reading.
I’d highly recommend adding it to your reading lists 🙂
Rating: 4.5 stars (4 stars for the first half of the book, but then there were definitely 5 star moments for me in the second, so overall I’m going with 4.5 stars)