It’s not too often that one finds a story that appeals to you on so many levels and a heroine that draws you so much into her psyche. I can’t say I am an Olivia or that I have even met an Olivia in my lifetime but she is really in all of us, perhaps in not such an amplified form but nonetheless she is in there. She is the imperfect heroine that we love and hate. We cringe at the things she does and the decisions she makes but then she does something and you realize, “Crap, I’ve done that!” I couldn’t sympathize with her for most of the book because all the things that happen to her, all the unhappiness she experiences are her own doing. Her actions had to catch up with her eventually. But I still wanted a happy ending for her because she is not a bad person. She comes from a dysfunctional family where her father played yo-yo with her and her mother’s feelings all throughout her childhood and she had to learn early on to detach herself emotionally. Unfortunately, it also came at a price of not feeling worthy of being loved and always anticipating the worst. She does everything in her power to attain happiness but she deep down believes she does not deserve it because of all the bad things she’s done. So she does more bad things to compensate and cover up past bad things and she’s forever stuck in her self-inflicted cycle of hell.
”It was all too good to be true. Nothing good ever lasted. Our time was running out. I could feel it. There was only so long before he discovered who I really was and wanted nothing to do with me. He was light and I was darkness.”
She and Caleb never really stood a chance in the beginning. Caleb was not attuned enough to her, he knew she was closed off emotionally but instead of making her feel loved and safe enough to break through those barriers, he pushed her out of her comfort zone. I hated him for asking her whether she loved him when he knew she did. Saying those words meant so much more to Olivia than hearing them meant to Caleb. I think he was trying to break her and I suspect it had nothing to do with helping her and everything to do with feeding his ego. He kept pressuring her to express her feelings and when you do that to an emotionally scarred individual who has never allowed herself to love another person that way, you have a 50/50 chance they’ll bolt. Caleb did help Olivia find herself in many ways but I think the most important thing that relationship taught her was that she was able to love. At that point, however, she had not learned yet that love sometimes requires sacrifice.
And then there is the office scene… If I live a million years I’ll never understand why Caleb did what he did. I really tried very hard to guess his motivation and justify him and I came up with nothing. It was so random and it just made me think that we didn’t quite get to meet the real Caleb in this book at all.
Caleb’s last words to her –
“I will love again, Olivia, you will hurt forever. What you’ve done is… you are worthless because you make yourself that way. You will remember me every day for the rest of your life because I was the one and you threw me away.”
God, how they made me mad!! He threw her away first!!!!! How dare he put it all on her and blame her for everything! What she did was horrible and unforgivable and it pretty much sealed the deal when it came to them breaking up BUT it was a reaction to what he had done. At that stage in her life she was not equipped emotionally to react any other way. She was a wounded animal who bit back the one that hurt her. So, like I said, the first time around they never stood a chance of having a functional relationship.
The second time they meet, post-amnesia, they do get a clean slate but their biggest obstacle is Olivia’s conscience. At that point she has had three years to live with the consequences of her actions, with the pain and loss of ruining the best thing that has ever happened to her, and she is desperate to be happy again. It comes as no surprise that she does not hesitate to “run into him” at the music shop when she sees him through the window. She equates being happy to being with Caleb as that is the only time she had been truly happy in her life. However, as great as their “new” relationship feels, she knows her lies and bad deeds will eventually catch up with her and she’s unable to enjoy her second chance at happiness because she sees it evaporating any minute now. She still thinks she is a wicked person who does not really deserve Caleb’s love but she cannot help herself. She gives even more of herself to him, she finally verbalises her feelings, opens up to him but eventually when a tough decision is required of her, one that would expose her “wickedness” to him, she does what she was programmed to do – she bolts.
When they met again, Olivia has grown and changed as a person without even realising it. She does not fall into her usual MO of doing things just to make herself happy. She is still haunted by guilt and regret for past deeds but she redeems herself this time around. I don’t know what screams more “I love you!” than having your ex-girlfriend defending your hateful current wife in court when she is obviously guilty and sending her to jail would have been a piece of cake. Olivia hated Leah with all her being but she loved Caleb more. Unfortunately, there comes a point when love is not enough anymore. The book’s ultimate wisdom came from Noah –
“There is more to loving someone than just making yourself happy. You have to want him to be happier than you are.”
He made her see that even if she goes to Caleb, exposes Leah and wins him back, they would end up struggling with issues of guilt and lack of trust. They had hurt each other too many times to count up to that point and it was time to stop. I’m not even going to touch the parting words between Olivia and Caleb because I am still hurting over them but I will end this rant by saying that a happily-ever-after doesn’t always mean the couple should end up together. This was the best and most real outcome to the given circumstances. Their love for each other was never the issue. Everything around it was. Olivia needed a Noah in her life to help her overcome her demons and to teach her to love herself. She is still struggling to find who she really is but Noah helps her to stay on the right path where she does not hurt those she loves and those who love her. She is aware how precious time can be and she chooses to live in the present rather than wallow over her past.
My final thought is about the sequels. We didn’t get the “traditional” HEA in this book and I would have been OK with that had there not been sequels announced. The fact that there are going to be two books after this one sort of implies that they do not end this way. The second book is going to be from Leah’s POV and it makes sense if she will eventually get out of the picture. The last book is speculated to be from Caleb’s POV and that in my mind means we might get a nice red-ribbon-wrapped HEA that we all so hope for. This is all just a theory of mine, wishful thinking of sorts to heal my bulldozered heart after finishing this book.
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Well Natasha I guess I’m late to the game here I just purchased this book after reading your review and I must say I too do not know how to respond!!!! I was happy and sad and laughed and cried and at the end I think I shouted out loud OMG I know that did not just happen and this this is the end WTH!!! But alas I digress on move on to Dirty Red I’m hooked until I know how this ends! Thanks again for your awesome reviews and my pursuit for HEA.