“An epic love. An epic hate.
An epic story that would last a lifetime.”
WOW WOW WOW!!!
This book was just breathtaking!! I loved the writing, I felt the story, and the intensity of this childhood friends-to-lovers romance kept my heart racing the whole way through!! Truly, an epic love story.
It began with a heart-wrenching scene set in present day. While we didn’t know exactly what had happened, it was clear that the heroine had just been through some kind of trauma. And in order to explain what was happening to her, we were taken back to the beginning of her story. To her childhood.
Alex (heroine) and Jess (hero) met when they were just eight years old. Alex’s mother was dying and after her father lost his job, they were kicked out of their home. Homeless and with no where else to go, they were forced to sleep in their old truck outside the hospital in the parking lot… until Mr. Mason, the doctor treating Alex’s mother, found them one night and made them a generous offer that would change their lives. Even though Alex hated the idea of charity, she and her father had no choice but to accept the help… She may have hated the charity, but the one person she couldn’t hate was the doctor’s son, Jess. A boy her age who was the first person to make her smile again in what seemed like forever.
“I let myself be pulled in by Jess. The broken, leftover shell of a girl felt bright and shiny whenever he stepped in a room.”
The Masons gave Alex and her father a place to live on their ranch and over the years, she and Jess grew up together and become inseparable best friends. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that this book then follows their story all the way through to adult-hood as they eventually fall in love.
“I’ll always have your back and you’ll always have mine.”
“Always? That’s like forever. How do you know we will be friends forever?”
“I just do.”
This story blew me away!! I truly felt every word with all my heart and soul. From the moment I read the prologue I was hooked and could not put it down. The more I read, the more invested I became in these characters and I can honestly say that I had tears in my eyes for the entire last 20% of the book.
This was such a multilayered story. There were two storylines, past and present, that were seamlessly woven together. It’s not always easy to write this kind of dual timeline but this author did a fantastic job with it. My heart didn’t stop racing. I cared about the past, I was beyond curious about the future, and I loved seeing the way all the pieces we were shown fell in together as their life story began to take shape.
It’s both a coming-of-age story and a romance. Alex had a lot of personal issues stemming from the charity she was forced to accept each day. Her intense guilt over the generosity showered on her by the Masons fuelled her deep-seeded need for independence that shaped the course of many years of her life.
“I would pay them all back; I just didn’t know when or how, I just knew it would happen. Someday, I would repay every so-called miracle. I would not be a product of charity.”
For a long time, she insisted that on only being friends with Jess. Best friends, but nothing more. As frustrating as that was, I felt like I could understand her reasons while simultaneously wishing desperately for them to be together. It was painful because I felt so connected to this story. It didn’t just feel like I was reading their story, it felt like I was living it right along side them. Meanwhile Jess had loved her since they were small. He still knew she had a lot to work through and was willing to wait for her until she might be ready. This guy just loved her so damn much that it broke my heart at times. Especially with the stunning beautiful writing… it was all just overwhelmingly emotional at times.
“His blue eyes spoke a thousand words all rolled into a heartfelt stare. They calmed the panic inside my body. In the silence between two friends, the air carried an entire conversation. His dark lashes blinked back a vow I knew he meant more than anything. ‘I promise this will not destroy us.’
But the things about best friends… and soul mates… is that, no matter what, they gravitate back to each other. And there was no doubt, from the very start, that Alex and Jess were meant for each other.
“I think ‘bout all of it, you know. You and me, being here together. It’s always been you.”
The intensity built steadily throughout the book but then suddenly, at 80%, I was crying. I read this one heart-breakingly gorgeous paragraph and tears just started pouring down my face. There’s something about the combination of a strong story with the exact right words that can really hit you SO hard. It’s one of the most powerful reading experiences you can imagine. I literally just read that paragraph over and over again while I sat there crying. Only my most favorite books elicit such a reaction from me.
For the entire rest of the book, I alternated between crying and almost crying. I was constantly on the verge of tears. It’s not tragic or devastating and, in many ways, these were good tears. It’s just that I was feeling the story so strongly by this point and the years of history between these two characters had built to the point where my emotions were just overflowing. I needed Alex and Jess to be together so badly.
“I was his and he was mine… I needed him. I needed him the way I needed air; a little bit every day just to survive in this dark world.”
And THEN, there was literally one of the biggest HOLY FUCK moments I have ever read in a book. Ever. —- My. Heart. Stopped. —- To say the ending is intense in an understatement of epic proportions but my gosh was it ever amazing!! The author didn’t hold back and even though it ripped out my heart, that epilogue rounded everything out perfectly! I couldn’t have been happier with the finale.
Everything about this book, from the writing, to the story, to the emotions it evoked, made it exactly the kind of story I most love to read. The delicious, heart wrenching push/pull of Alex and Jess’ friendship and love, the guilt, the longing, the desire, the pain, the healing, all of it was just stunningly portrayed. This is truly one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. An absolutely EPIC love story.
I recommend this book for everyone!!
“We’ve got somethin’ that people look for their whole lives.
We just found it when we were eight.”
Rating: 5++ STARS!!! Standalone romance.
PS: I’d especially recommend it for fans of The Sweet Gum Tree. It had a completely different plot (not a second chance romance) but a very similar feeling and intensity to it.