Spectacular. Impressive. Marvellous. Exciting. Remarkable. Mind-blowing. Epic… I am tempted to make this review just a collection of superlatives because this book left me speechless and utterly in love with every word in it. While I adored Sophie’s book and never expected a sequel to overwhelm me as much, I felt that Spencer’s story was even more inspiring and tinglingly romantic. I was hooked from the very first page and I truly never wanted it to end.
Spencer Blackwell is one of the rich kids of Beverly Hills, an elite group of privileged youths who take their parents’ wealth for granted and live a careless life splurging money on vices and luxuries. He has always moved in the same affluent circles, never knowing what it feels like to want for anything or work for a living. But Spencer’s life is not as rosy as it appears, being forced to live under his father’s thumb and obey his orders. A heartless man with no morals, his father’s disparaging and manipulative ways have shaped Spencer into his own lackey who values wealth above all and who regularly sells his soul to the devil by doing his dad’s dirty deeds. Deep down, Spencer is miserable, troubled by the heavy burden of his burning conscience, ridden by guilt and terrified of turning into his father one day, but powerless to do anything about it because his own greed won’t let him.
“I was certain there was nothing that could cleanse me, to launder my poisoned blood. This was who I was. Hopeless personified.”
Until the only person in his life whom he loves more than he loves himself needs his help and he is forced to take a stand. Desperate to save his sister from their dad’s cruel intentions, Spencer leaves his old life behind, cutting all ties, and escapes with his sister to a remote cattle ranch in Montana. Far away from everything the young Blackwells have grown up knowing, it surprisingly takes them no time to feel at home in their new environment and to start caring for the people around them. Spencer’s life in particular changes in every possible way, giving him a daily purpose and a sense of personal achievement that he’s never felt before. It doesn’t hurt either that on his very first day there he meets a girl who steals his breath away from the moment he lays eyes on her.
“If you took everything I’d ever found hot, beautiful in a girl and piled them into a corner, you’d get Cricket Hunt… standing in a corner.’
Cricket Hunt is the antithesis of every girl he’s ever met in his life, her kind heart, quick wit and passion for life drawing him in like a magnet, her mere presence soothing his tainted soul and warning off his nightmares. He cannot help but gravitate towards her whenever she is near, longing to hold her in his arms and unwilling to accept that she might belong to someone else. Their bond slowly grows each day but their mutual attraction quickly spirals out of control, making them both question their lives and the future they each envisioned for themselves.
“Cricket was a balm to my disturbed spirit… She was everything I never imagined I could possibly want. She was… devastating.”
This was hands down one of the most inspiring and truly lovely romances I have ever had the pleasure of day-dreaming along. I felt the raw chemistry between Spencer and Cricket in their every scene, I lived in anticipation of a simple kiss and loved every second building up to that earth-shattering moment. Forsaking explicitness in favour of a colourful writing style and a playful use of language, Ms Fisher somehow manages to literally make us gasp for air with one single passionate embrace between the young lovers and not one graphic detail in sight. She weaves delightful ties between all her characters, making us feel something for each one of them.
Just like its prequel, this story also carries a powerful message, a message of love over material possessions, of learning to value what matters in life and be willing to sacrifice everything for the wellbeing of loved ones. It also praises the power of the human spirit and its ability to break away from old demons. This was a book I wanted to hug, squeeze, never let go, and it made my heart burst with joy. This is one of my favourite reads of the year and it’s the kind of story that simply begs to be re-read very very soon.
“This was farther from home than I’d ever realized. This was friggin’ Mars.”
I found a window, but the glass was so old and cloudy, you could hardly see into the lit room. I pressed my face against the glass.
Cricket was inside, blasting a few tunes in a light denim button-up that fit so snugly I almost fell over. The sleeves were rolled up to allow her to work, and the shirt was tucked into a pair of high-waisted denim shorts with two rows of brass buttons down the front panel. My gaze followed down her short but beautiful legs to knee-highs. Her hair was wrapped in a bright red headscarf. Like a modern day frickin’ Rosie the Riveter. And so unbelievably sexy. I could not compare her to anyone. When I looked on her, I couldn’t even tell you that other women existed.
My hand tugged down my face. Suddenly, I felt stifling and had to pull off my knit cap and scarf. I swallowed. Turn. Turn and run and get out. Turn, I ordered myself.
But that’s not what I did. Oh no. No, I was a glutton for punishment, it seemed. Instead of doing what I should, I did what I couldn’t help, and knocked. I watched her reaction through the window. She dropped the pieces of scrap metal she’d been rummaging through and came to the door.
I stood upright once more and checked myself. The door swung open and the scented candle she was burning bowled me over. The smell of baking chocolate cake swarmed around me, and all I wanted to do was taste Cricket.
My mouth gaped open, ready to speak, but no words would come. Her face flamed red.
“I’m sorry,” she said, her hands going to her naked thighs. “I thought you were my grandmother. She checks on me sometimes.”
“I-I was taking a walk and saw the light on.” I swallowed, my gaze raking her body. She was covered pretty much from head to toe, but no matter how hard Cricket tried, she couldn’t hide her curves. “I’m not disturbing you, am I?” I asked.
“No,” she said, taking a deep breath. She opened the door wider and invited me in.
Careful. Be careful, Spencer. Inside, it was incredibly warm. In the corner sat a wood burning stove and it looked like she’d put on a fresh log. I absently noted that she intended to stay for a while. I removed my jacket and placed it along with my cap and scarf on a table near the door. I studied my surroundings and discovered there were shelves and tables scattered in disarray around the room and were full of fascinating sculptures. My eyes lingered on one. The head of Winston Churchill.
I turned to Cricket. “Your work?” Her cheeks flushed an enticing vermillion. Oh, Cricket. You would be so smart not to blush again.
“Yeah,” she answered simply.
She seemed embarrassed, adding to how attractive I found her, and studied the ground with her hands tucked behind her back. She fought a smile while I fought to keep my hands at my side. She made herself busy by clearing a stool covered in scrap metal. She cleared her throat nervously and presented the stool to me before rounding the table she’d been working at when I discovered her. I sat, my legs spread and hung both my arms over the back of the stool. Her eyes widened when she turned my direction and I almost laughed out loud. I unnerved her.
“Cricket Hunt, show me your stuff.” Her head whipped my direction.
“Oh,” she giggled, “sure. Uh,” she began and stiffened her back, “but first you have to promise not to laugh at any of them.”
“Cross my heart,” I told her, making the motion my thumb.
She sighed, deciding something then with conviction she marched over to a shelf tucked into a narrow corner of the cabin. She stretched high, trying to reach one on the top shelf but she was too short. She made a movement to find something to stand on, but I stopped her.
“I’ll get it,” I told her, slinking off the stool and stalking toward her.
She made a movement to make way for me, feinting left then right, but I blocked her in. She looked up at me and it set my heart racing. I studied her face for a moment, unable not to.
“Which one?” I asked softly.
“Th-‐that one,” she explained, her eyes trained on the sculpture at the far top left.
I reached over her and our bodies grazed from the proximity, sending shivers up my spine. I had never felt shivers before, not before Cricket. Not like that. Never like that.
I picked the piece up and brought it down to chest level for me, eye level for her. “This one,” I breathed.
“That’s the one,” she confirmed, not even glancing at the sculpture.
Her eyes were trained on my lips. She irresponsibly licked her own before drawing her bottom lip under her top teeth. I winced at the pain it caused me, a shot of pure fire blasted from the tips of my toes to the top of my head only to settle in the hollow of my stomach. It was a good burn though. Too good.
I uprooted my weighted feet and somehow walked away from her, but not before glancing back once more. I found Cricket had briefly sagged into the wall beside her before finding her bearings again.
The fire continued to burn in my belly, knowing that if I really wanted to, I could steal a kiss. I knew if I did, though, she’d be all in then, all passion and hands, but just as quickly she’d be all out, an iron door slammed shut over the one I’d built the day we’d taken Bridge to the doctor. The one I erected only to immediately search out the weakest part. The part I shoved a boot through the second I saw Cricket Hunt in knee‐highs and high-waisted shorts. And the last thing I wanted to do was create emotional distance from the very girl who sent me flying to the moon every time she licked her lips, smiled or crinkled her nose.