If you think you’re already a die-hard fan of Samantha Young’s unique writing style, well, be ready to hopelessly fall in love with it all over again because this book will rock your world and leave you so addicted to these characters, you won’t know what to do with yourself when you reach that wretched last page. An epic love story that is equally heart-warming as it is heartbreaking, the tale of Charley and Jake will entrench itself so deeply into your heart, you will never want it to end. By the end of this book, you’ll be going back and frantically re-reading passages like I was, re-living moments that affected you one way or another, because you won’t be able to let go of this beautiful story of young loves and second chances at forever.
“All I know is that you probably deserve better than me, but I’m too selfish to let you. I’m into you, and I want you to be so into me, you don’t even care that I’m not good enough for you.”
We meet Charley and Jake as two high school kids whose immediate attraction quickly progresses into falling in love for the very first time, being confronted with the very real possibility of having met “the one” at such a young age, and eventually losing it all. Their connection is immediately palpable, from teenage chemistry when they first meet and fall in love to full blown sexual tension when they cross paths again, but we are not given their story all at once. Paced flawlessly and carefully, their story goes back and forth in time, slowly putting the past and the present together like pieces in a puzzle, and making us simultaneously watch them fall in love for the first time, as well as find each other again years later and cope with all the residual feelings still burning bright in their young hearts.
“I won’t ever stop loving you. No matter what.”
We live this story through our heroine’s eyes, we feel every one of her emotions, past and present, as we watch her as two different people – a witty sixteen year old girl who’s never been hurt before and who lets herself fall in love with the new boy in town freely, wholeheartedly, irrevocably, and as a twenty year old young woman who’s never overcome the heartbreak of losing her first love and having her trust shattered into a million pieces by that sudden loss. The more we get to know the young girl that Charley once was, the more it hurts us to see how heartbreak eventually changes her. When suddenly faced again with the one she never stopped loving, Charley has to not only overcome her lingering feelings for Jake, but also learn to forgive and finally put the past behind her.
Charley is a character you will love from the very first scene. Her smart mouth and vivacious personality as a young girl will make you protective of her, deeply invested in her happiness, but as much as I wanted to resent Jake for the pain he had caused her, he is not an anti-hero by any stretch of the imagination. There are no villains in this love story – their heartbreak stems from their inability to cope with all they are confronted with at such a young age, not a lack of deep emotions towards each other. This is a story of second chances, of meant-to-bes and of whether true love can survive sorrow, time and distance. It’s a story that will remind you of what it was like to be young and hopelessly in love, of your first heartbreak, your first broken dreams, and it’s a story that will fill you with hope – hope that some hearts are simply destined to find their way back to each other.
“I knew after weeks of meeting you that I was never going to love another girl like I love you. You’re it for me. They write books about what we have.”
This is possibly one of the most addictive books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Everything about this story “spoke” to me and I found every part of it to be truly remarkable. I cannot stop thinking about it, remembering scenes, smiling at those memories… My personal highlight were the clever dialogues – they flowed naturally and effortlessly, capable of making us laugh as well as bring tears to our eyes. Ms Young has a distinctive style of telling a story – it is recognisable in every word, every sentence, every humorous remark. I never wanted this book to end, it physically hurt to let go of Charley and Jake, not to mention all the other loveable secondary characters, but even though we are left in a very happy place story-wise and there is no cliffhanger, I was over the moon when I realised that their story would continue in Out of the Shallows...
Epic. Unforgettable. Heartbreaking. A must read.
“Do you promise to take care of me for the rest of forever, Jacob Caplin?”
“I promise. For the rest of forever.”
“Forget, Alex.” Lacey turned to me, her eyes bright in the firelight. “I’ve decided Jake Caplin is perfect for you.”
“Ah, the mysterious Jake,” I chuckled.
All summer I’d been treated to excited phone calls from my friends. First they relayed the news that a new family had moved to Lanton. This was news because Mr. Caplin was opening an attorney’s office which had thrown Brackett & Sons, the already existing attorney’s office, into a tizzy. It was also news because the Caplins had two boys – Jacob and Lukas, a junior and a freshman. Both, apparently, seriously cute.
They’d also made quite a name for themselves over the summer. Or at least Jake had. He’d quickly found friends, seeming able to move from group to group according to Lacey. He hung out with the musicians, the nerds and the stoners, but also had a lot of fun with the jocks. And, more importantly Lacey said, he had already slept with a bunch of junior and senior girls. Rumor had it he’d also slept with Stacy Sullivan, the hot nineteen year old waitress that worked at Hub’s, a popular diner on Main Street. Despite Jake being sixteen and it being legal and all, Rose said Stacy was working hard to make sure it remained a rumor. She already had a bit of rep, and wasn’t too keen on folks thinking she was corrupting guys just passed the legal age of consent. Especially because she thought Jake was her age and he hadn’t told her any different.
All this made me question why the hell Lacey would want me to hook up with him.
“Oh my God, he’s here,” Lacey breathed as if Batman had just walked into the party.
I twisted my head to follow her gaze and I found myself staring past the fire and into the dark eyes of Jake Caplin.
I felt his look seize hold of me and I swear to God my breath hitched in my throat.
He was beautiful.
I didn’t know how to describe him any other way. And as he moved through the crowd, eyes on me, my friends whispering in disbelief that he was coming over, I decided then that I didn’t care about rumor. There was something about the way his tall, built body moved – confident and strong but also somehow wild and untamed. I watched his mouth curl up at the corners in a half-smile and I read a million things in his expression. A million stories, a million jokes, a million dreams…
Deep down, I somehow knew that Jake Caplin would never, ever bore me. It sounded crazy, I know it did because we’d never even exchanged a word, but I just knew.
“So, you’re the mysterious girl who’s been gone all summer.” He stopped right in front of me, casual, holding a beer in hand. I tipped my head back to meet his gaze, my body tingling. It suddenly occurred to me that someone as beautiful as Jake must have girls throwing themselves all over him all the time. I read it in his cocky confidence. I read it in the ease with which he spoke to me, a complete stranger, when there were guys I’d known my whole life that stuttered when they tried to flirt with me.
“And you’re the mysterious newbie,” I answered with a shrug.
He smiled at my response and held out a hand. “Jake.”
Reaching out tentatively, I let him take my hand, ignoring the curl of tension in my lower belly as our skin touched. “Charley.”
“I know. You’re famous. Supergirl.” He grinned wickedly and I shot my friends a dirty look. I couldn’t believe they’d told him that story.
No, in fact, I could believe it.
Two years ago I’d gone into town with Lacey and Rose. We were coming out of Hub’s when we heard my sister Andie shouting. It was so unlike her that we stopped to spectate. Andie was a senior at the time and her and her long-term boyfriend Pete had been having problems. That day those problems had escalated so much that my sister – who was the epitome of public decorum – started to shout at him in the town square. He’d shouted back as she walked away, and Andie had stupidly stopped in the middle of the street to turn and shout a response.
I saw Mr. Finnegan’s SUV come roaring around the corner, and I also noted he was too busy fiddling with something on his dashboard to notice my sister. I didn’t even think. I just tore across the street and shoved her out of the way, just in time for Finnegan to realize what was happening and hit the brakes. Unfortunately, he found the brakes too late and he still hit me. The impact wasn’t hard enough to do serious, serious damage, but I ended up with concussion, a few fractured ribs and a broken fibula.
I’d been laid up for a while. Enough time for the town to hail me as a local hero and everyone, including my sister, to affectionately nickname me “Supergirl”.
“I hate living in a small town,” I grumbled, taking another pull of my beer.
Jake laughed, a deep, rich sound that tugged my eyes instantly back to his. My heart started racing hard again as we stared at each other. “Don’t sweat it. If you’re going to adopt a nickname I could think of worse ones, and definitely not a better reason to have one.”
“We’re going to get more beers,” Lacey announced cheerily and not so very subtly grabbed Rose’s hand and dragged her away, giving Jake and I privacy.
I grimaced at how obvious they were. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be.” Jake stepped a little closer. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”
I tipped my head and grinned knowingly. “Oh, I’ve heard you’ve met lots of people already.”
His lips twitched. “You shouldn’t listen to gossip.”
“Especially when it’s right?”
He laughed now, shaking his head. “I was just being friendly. Getting to know the new town. It’s not easy moving from Chicago to here.”
“I can imagine.” I frowned and leaned against the post behind me. “Why did you?”
Jake blew a breath out between his lips and shrugged. “My mom and dad are from small towns, they missed it, but my dad was pretty successful in Chicago and my mom liked her life there. However, my kid brother, Lukas, got mugged coming home from school one night when he missed the bus. They pulled a knife on him but didn’t hurt him. Still, it freaked my mom and dad out so much they upped stakes.”
I nodded but said, “You know bad things happen everywhere.”
“You get a lot of muggings in Lanton, do you?”
“Only when things are slow. I like to shake things up a little.”
Jake threw his head back and laughed, his eyes glittering warmly. “Ski-mask and all?”
I shook my head. “Bandit eye strip, a banana and a black trash bag.”
He chuckled. “Let me guess – the banana works three-fold: a “gun”, a snack to keep your mugger energy up, and then the slippery peel is a great tool in your escape.”
I widened my eyes in mock surprise. “Dude, you got this down. Want to be a bandit with me?” I didn’t mean it to sound so flirtatious but it totally did.
Jake’s gaze turned even warmer and he ducked his head a little to murmur, “Definitely.”