“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.
OMG. *click* I have to read this!!
YAY!! Yes, you definitely have to read it!! It’s AMAZING 😀
I’m reading it now and its consuming me. Thank you for recommending it. 🙂
I’m so glad you’re loving it!!!
Melanie Moreland says
Thanks for the rec! Looking forward to reading this!
Very welcome!! I hope you love it too 😀
Another perfect review it was very hard to get through this amazing book but I did it and loved it . I was so sad and heartbroken at times but the end whew what a ending.
Thank you so much, Margaret!! I felt the same as you about the book!
Kim Box Person says
Beautiful review!!!! THIS is why I will always read your reviews! I could feel your emotions while reading the review. I bought the book already and can’t wait to read!!!!
Aww, wow – thank you so much, Kim!! That really means a lot to me. I’m so glad you’re going to read this book! 😀
This sounds amazing. I’ve got to read it!
It totally IS amazing!!! 😀 😀
Aestas, As usual I trusted your review and started reading this book and am at 50% now. Its been a great book till this point. As you say the writing is great. You are forced to be involved with Al and Jess. I am. I am confused about the present part of it and waiting for it to be unraveled. Thanks for a great reco !!!
It’s supposed to be a mystery. You’re not supposed to know what’s happened to her in the present day until closer to the end when all the pieces of the story come together. And I promise it does!
So glad you’re loving it! 🙂
I have absolut faith in yor reviews so i’m totally one clicking it right now!!
Thanks in advance , i’m sure ill love it.
Ahh, thank you!! HAPPY READING <3
it’s indeed HOLY WOW….thanks for recommending.
You’re very welcome!! I’m so happy to hear you loved it 😀
Both reading your review….AND reading the sample for this book had me hooked. I’m only 1/3 of the way in and I am at the edge of my seat. YIKES!
Woohoooo!!!!! Enjoy!! It’s quite a ride 😀
Just started this and had to click over to tell you I am already HOOKED! Wow can’t wait to get ino the soul of this story! Thanks for the review❤️
You’re very welcome!!! Enjoy 😀
It’s not like I have more than 100 books to read… but after reading your review I feel like I HAVE to buy and read this one… (your blog is so pretty !) <3
Thanks about the blog! 😀 And I’d definitely recommend bumping this to the top of your list!
Hi, you keep posting amazing books and I just take the advice.. The Mason List is the book I’ reading right now… It’s almost finished and I don’t know IF I can read the end.. There’s this voice in my head which is telling me to stop and wait… It’s almost midnight in Italy and it’s a work day tomorrow but I’ll go.. To the end.. And see.. Thanks for the advice.. Amazing blog!!! Claudia
Ahhhh I’m so glad that you’re loving it!!!! *waves to Italy*
I finished the book this morning and I simply adored it. I couldn’t put it down much to the dismay of my poor hubby who got almost no attention while I was engrossed in this book. I am stuck for what to read next – I have the BIGGEST book hangover. But it was totally worth it and I cant wait to read what she writes next. Her talent for writing is off the charts. I had to e-mail the author to thank her for writing such a beautiful book. Its the kind of story you just never want to forget. For me it felt like it was a mix of the sweet gum tree and butterfly weeds. I simply LOVED it!!
thanks for the recommendation P.S. I love your blog 🙂
I felt exactly the same!! <3
Ok so I am an HEA kind of girl so I’m totally & completely nervous to read this book. Your passionate review has hooked me…I’m going in.
You have nothing to be scared of 😉
I just can’t thank you enough for recommending this amazing book. I started it yesterday and I couldn’t stop… It was amazing… I feel like I want to re-read it again!!!
You’re so very welcome!! I know I’ll be re-reading this one too <3
This book is the kind that will stay with me for a long time. I was totally immersed in the plot and characters and was on the brink of tears for a good part of it. The Mason List made me feel many of the same emotions I felt when I read Present Perfect by Alison Bailey. Both books were so intense and so real. Both left a deep impression on my heart. Thank you for your recommendations. If I have any doubt about a book, I know I can count on your review to provide an accurate and spoiler-free assessment.
Oh wow thank you for your kind words! I’m so glad you loved this book too!!! 🙂
Aestas! OMG! I JUST finished reading this. MY FEELINGS. MY LIFE. MY HEART. Holy crap. I started this yesterday and decided sleep is HIGHLY overrated. I just have feelings all over the place right now. My heart is still racing! I was literally on the edge of my seat for the last 15% or so. For real, I almost fell out of the chair. I am SO happy I decided to read this based on your recommendation! I recently read The Sweet Gum Tree and loved it, so I knew I needed to try this one. This is going to be one epic book hangover. Like, The Bronze Horseman type of epic. I just keep seeing that sweet, dark-haired, smiling 8-year old boy in the hallway of the hospital in my mind. These lifelong romances just get me every time. Hearts everywhere. ALL THE HEARTS.
JESS + ALEX
LOVE LOVE LOVE your reaction to this book, Kellie!!! haha I can totally understand what you’re feeling! I had such an epic hangover after this too.
ALL THE HEARTS!!!!
PS: I hope you don’t mind. I shared a short version of your comment here on FB because it was just so wonderful and heartfelt that I thought it would be a great way to showcase another reader’s love for this book 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/aestasbookblog/posts/831313826936001
My house is in shambles. I started reading this two days ago and couldn’t put it down. I almost called in to work today so I could finish it. I finally finished it this evening. Epic book hangover. *sigh*
One of my favourite book of the year too ! Really love your recommendation !
I just finished this book last night! Oh my gosh, you didnt say it was a horribly fucked up moment!! Wow! You were right, at 80% everything just happened. Good and bad!! Wow…. just wow. I wish the epilogue was a little big longer, but was happy overall! Thanks for the recommendation!
Bambi Marasigan says
Thank you for recommending this book. I finally had a copy and is presently re-reading this (Yes…I usually read back the books I finished reading…the worth reading again and again books). I finished it first last Sunday.
You are right I just can’t stop myself from crying. Alex has really evolved as a mature woman. At first I was so frustrated with her, as a little bit like Saddie, BUT Jess’ love and patience overruled all of this.
JESS + ALEX plus 11 more names in the Epilogue…
I simply LOVE THIS BOOK!!!
WOW great review! This book really sounds good. It has just made my want to read in 2016 list :-).
Thank you so much!! I hope you enjoy it too!! 😀
This was one of my favourite books last year! It’s got a little of everything I love in a story. Thank you Aestas book blog for always recommending amazing books!!
Anita Powers says
I love your review because the feelings you had were so similar to my own feelings. This is one of the most emotional books I have read in a long time, what happens at the end had me crying a true ugly cry, and with each step after that I felt I was on the edge of my seat. If you haven’t done it yet you should go to her website/blog and read her Q&A session about the book and the extra special scene she did in Jess’s POV
Seriously always if I want read a book I have to come and see your reviews thank you for this beautiful blog I love you so much ?????????????
Hello everybody! This is my favorite book of all times! And I am looking for a summer reading just like this, characters that met when they wete kids, they first build a strong friendship and all the story builds around how they grow old. I already tried the sweet gum tree but it was’nt what I was expecting. Hope you can recommend me some good books with this kind of stroryline<3 by the way Aestas, I found this book in 2015 christmas and I still love it some much, and it’s all because of you!! Thank you very much XOXO