“I never asked to be the world’s hero.
All I ever wanted was to be yours.”
WOW!!! I read this book in one sitting because I very seriously COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!! As soon as I heard about this story, I knew that I wanted to read it. I’ve loved many of Nicole Williams’ books over the years and true to her style of writing unique love stories, this one was heart-wrenching, romantic, and utterly addictive! I almost felt breathless as I read because I just couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. It’s definitely a new favorite!!
When he left for a twelve-month deployment, she knew it would feel like forever before they saw each other again. She didn’t realize how right she was.
When Lance Corporal Brecken Connolly gets taken as a POW, Camryn hopes for the best but steels herself for the worst. In the end, steel was what she needed to survive when he didn’t. She moves on the only way she knows how—gilding herself in more steel.
Years go by.
She builds a new life.
She leaves the old one behind.
Until one day, she sees the face of a ghost on the news. Brecken seems to have risen from the dead, but she knows she can’t perform the same miracle for herself. While Brecken was held in a torture camp for the past five years, she’s been trapped in her own kind of prison.
The man she mourned comes back to join the living, but the girl he wanted to spend his life with isn’t the same woman he comes back for. Brecken isn’t the same person either. The past five years have changed them both. While he’s determined to put the pieces back together, she’s resolved to let hers rot where they shattered.
Broken or not, Brecken wants her back. He’ll do anything to achieve that. Even if it means going against the warden of Camryn’s personal prison—her husband.
I don’t know about you when when I read that blurb above, my heart just squeezed! It instantly made me want to read this story especially since I already knew that I loved this author’s writing style! I actually had planned to read another book today but dropped everything to give this one a try and never regretted my decision!
Brecken and Camryn had been together since they were young teens and had been a part of each others’ lives since childhood. Their bond was deep and strong and there was no question in either of their minds that they would spend the rest of their lives together. But they were young and from a small town they had little hope of getting out of so for him, joining the military gave him something to build their future on. Each time he left, it was torture for her to count down the days until he returned but this time — a full year’s deployment — felt nearly unbearable.
She came from an abusive home and he hated leaving her behind, but she had two months of high school left (he was two years older) and she couldn’t leave town yet so he tried to make sure she had as much protection as he could manage in his absence.
“Good-byes weren’t my forte. Especially not the kind where I had to wave good-bye to the man I loved as he prepared to head into the middle of a war zone for the next year. Good-bye came with a whole different context when you said it to a marine.”
It was completely heart-wrenching. Barely 5% into this book and my heart was aching for them…
“I’m coming home to you,” he said like a solemn vow. “It might be in more than one piece, but I’m coming home to you.”
I tucked his tags inside his shirt. They’d become cold again. “A thousand pieces, I don’t care. Just come home.”
She knew she’d wait for him — there was no question about that. But her entire world came shattering down around her when he was captured and killed on film. It wasn’t even that she took someone’s word that he’d died, she’d seen it herself in plain horrific sight — a memory that was now burned into her mind. She’d seen the man she loved more than anything violently murdered and she simply couldn’t recover from that loss.
“The country had moved on years ago, but for me, moving on wasn’t an option. I was stuck. Tied to him. Bound to his fate.”
Over the next six years though, many things happened that forced her to make choices she felt she couldn’t escape… And now in present day she’s married to an abusive man who holds the threat of taking away the only thing she’d risk her life for. And when Brecken is found alive, the rug is pulled out from under her again.
Oh my gosh. My heart BROKE for Brecken. Even aside from his war hero status, he was literally the most swoon-worth, amazing, understanding, just all-round heroic man ever. He loved Camryn more than anything on earth and he’d survived hell only to come back and find that the one thing that had kept him going — the very woman who owned every piece of his heart — was married to a monster and living in a prison of her own.
“When I’m with you… I remember who I was, who I am, when I’m with you.
My heart crawled into my throat when I let myself look at him, my hands curling over the edge of the sink. That had been another life. I’d been another person. Who he remembered, that girl he’d loved, that person wasn’t in the woman he was staring at now. That girl had died with that boy. The woman was a mirage.
I want to be very clear that THERE IS NO LOVE TRIANGLE. The hero is Brecken and there is literally never even a moment of doubt. The husband is complete scum and I promise you’ll never be rooting for him. If you’re asking yourself why she even married the husband in the first place, that reasoning is explained in the story (I won’t mention it here because there’s a specific little detail about her life that I’ve left out of this review on purpose so as not to spoil anything) but she didn’t love him and there was no competition about who she wanted to be with.
“I married him,” I whisper even as my hand found his chest.
“But you belong to me.”
… “How do you know?”
“I can see it in your eyes. Every time you look at me.”
Brecken however, didn’t know this at first when he returned. All he’d ever wanted was for her to be happy — even if that meant she was with someone else. He knew that the world believed he’d died and he would have wanted her to move on if he had as long she had found happiness. But the moment he realized that her life was filled with pain, abuse, and fear, he did absolutely everything in his power to protect the woman that he’d never stopped loving.
“You need someone to look after you while you’re **spoiler**. That’s me. That’s my job because I’m making it mine and it was mine to begin with. I don’t care that you married him or that you have his last name. You’re mine. To love. To honor. And to fucking protect.”
“This person today is not the same one you left behind. There’s nothing left of that girl to love…”
He rose from the stairs, moving toward me. His steps weren’t hesitant or slow. “That girl I left behind is right here, standing in front of me,” he said, his eyes unyielding. “There’s everything of her still to love.”
Something about this book just made me devour it as fast as I could. My pulse raced, my heart ached, and I turned the pages as fast as possible unable to stop until I reached the very end. Speaking of which, there’s a bit of a reveal/twist near the end which I admittedly had guessed from the start and there was another thing that didn’t fully make sense to me but I can’t mention it without spoilers and honestly, it didn’t really matter to me because the FEELS were there and I was totally connected to the story. And yes, there is totally a HEA. I’m mentioning it because I’ve been asked by several readers specifically about it. This is a Romance genre novel so I promise you’ll be happy with the way it ends.
I’m always excited whenever Nicole Williams releases a new book. I love that she always finds a way to put a twist on her stories. They’re all just a little bit different than the norm and that really appeals to me. Plus, her writing is quite addictive and smooth-flowing so she’s definitely an author whose new books are always on my reading list.
If you’re looking for a heart-wrenching romance to fall in love with, definitely try this book!! It’s romantic, angsty, intense, and addictive! A new favorite!
Rating: 4.5 stars! Standalone Adult Contemporary Romance.