The latest trends in romantic fiction have been gravitating towards difficult relationships and inherently flawed characters, conditioning us to perceive romance in general as a ‘journey to be travelled’, and to wish for our fictional male heroes to be dominant, obsessive, with very particular tastes, but ultimately ‘fixable’ when the right woman comes along. And while those stories have definitely found a welcoming audience in all of us at varying degrees, dreamers like me still wish for stories that are meant to inspire rather than disturb, renew our hope in the human spirit rather than give us excuses for its flaws, feed our every romantic bone rather than make us redefine romance. This was one of those rare books where the ‘nice guy’ is the hero of the story, where his goodness and selflessness are his dominant traits, and where his every act of kindness is the reason we fall deeper and deeper under his spell. This is a story about the resilience of the human spirit and the true power of love on a wounded heart.
“You can’t hear me… I can’t help that… But I want you to see me.”
Bree Prescott is a young woman whose grief has led her to flee from the only home she has ever known, hoping that a place far away from her memories would help her heal and escape the frequent flashbacks to a night that changed her life forever, trapping her into a never-ending cycle of fear and sorrow. When Bree meets Archer Hale, a man who desperately tries to be invisible in his own home town, she immediately recognises the pain behind his whiskey-coloured eyes because it mirrors her own. She seeks him out, wishing to get to know him and hear his story, only to find out that some stories do not need to be told to be heard.
“We communicated a thousand words, without a single one being spoken.”
Archer has lived a solitary life since her was a small child, everyone around him ignoring him, assuming things about him and letting rumours roam free, but no one ever taking the time to discover the gentle man terrified of and hiding away from the world around him. Bree is the spark he has needed all along to start wishing for more from his own life. Her love and support give him the confidence to break away from the chains of his own apprehensions and make him blossom into the young man no one has ever bothered to know. As they slowly discover one another, they fall in love – a love so pure and beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion – and they become each other’s anchor and each other’s greatest joy.
“There are so many ways to read you, Archer Hale. And I love every single one of them.”
But when one has lost everything in their life once already and that loss has defined them every single day since then, sometimes the only way to conquer the loneliness of that fear is by embracing it.
Flawlessly and poignantly written, Bree and Archer’s heart-wrenching but truly beautiful love story touched my heart in so many exquisite ways, I felt ruined at the end of it. It made me hopelessly fall for a silent boy whose gentle soul and kind heart showed me that there is nothing more romantic than a look that speaks a thousand words and that sometimes a ‘bouquet’ of Almond Joy candy bars is all a girl needs to know she is loved. In a world that celebrates ‘bad boys’ and their antics, Archer Hale stands as a God among men.
“I know I’m probably the last person you want to see right now, but I just thought if I sat on your porch, you wouldn’t be scared. You wouldn’t be alone.”