There is something infinitely alluring to me about a difficult love story that I just know will shred me, hurt me, turn me into one huge emotional mess simply by exploring the boundaries of true love and pushing them to the point of breaking. I love the ‘raw’ quality of those angsty relationships, the almost primal responses we get to see from characters whose hearts are battling their own minds, deadlocked between self-preservation and soul-crippling love, lust, need, want. And Scarlett and Dante’s story was the perfect embodiment of it all—a most gratifying, exhilarating, fascinating romance that made me feel drunk on every drop their maddening love had to offer. There was not a second during this tumultuous love story that I did not feel the devastating intensity of their connection—I could taste it, smell it, see it in their every interaction—and it was the presence of that enduring love that made their journey so compelling and impossible to put down. I was hooked on every word and once again reminded of this author’s tremendous gift for weaving stories that never fail to hit just the right spot.
I’d been mad for her since we were ten years old and she gave me her first conspirational grin, the one that told me we’d be giving the world hell.
Scarlett Theroux and Dante Durant met when they were only ten years old, but from the moment their rebellious little hearts recognised a kindred spirit in each other, they became inseparable. Their closeness over the years helped to shape the kind of people they became, their friendship naturally evolving into a romantic attachment that only grew in intensity as they became older. But even though they were perfectly matched in every possible way—from equally wild and capricious tempers, to the passionate, possessive, all-consuming way they loved one another—to the world around them, nothing could ever erase the fact that a rich kid had no business falling for ‘trailer park trash’ that not even her own family ever wanted. And no one believed that more than a young Scarlett.
No one would ever know me like he did. Understand and indulge the darkness and the lightness in me. The good and the bad. The strong and the weak. Take all of the parts of me that were toxic and soothe them with the perfect antidote.
We had all of the ingredients of forever love.
Fast forward to them both in their late twenties, and where love and devotion once filled their young hearts to the brim, we now find hate and desolation in its stead, their every interaction turning into a ruthless, but ultimately self-destructive exercise in shredding each other to pieces in order to find some reprieve from their own debilitating heartbreak. We watch a young woman struggle daily with the knowledge she will never love another the way she loved the one who threw her away, but instead of wallowing in her own pain, she feeds the raging inferno inside her by hurting back, every chance she gets, the man who broke her heart.
“Love is never satisfied with half-measures. It won’t take parts of you. It will own all of you, every single, longing piece.
Love will make you its slave. It will ruin you. Grind you under its heel until you don’t recognize what’s left.
Love will take your soul. If you’re very unlucky, it might even turn you into someone like me.”
The constant flashbacks to Scarlett and Dante’s past, however, remain a persistent reminder of all they once meant to each other, of all they once had and somehow lost along the way, and as we slowly piece their story together, one emotional gut punch after another, we discover a heartbreaking tale of two star-crossed lovers whose only sin was perhaps loving each other too much.
“Do you love me at least as much as you hate me?”
This was such a surprising and beautifully woven journey into the human heart, with two multifaceted characters whose powerful emotions never failed to thrill or steal my breath away. It is a carefully crafted story of two people who were each other’s only constants in life, who always understood one another better than anyone else, who accepted and loved every prickly part of each other’s complex personalities, every wound and every thorn, and who ultimately could not erase that love, as hard as they tried, because their souls never stopped belonging to the other. For Scarlett and Dante, loving each other was never a choice, but love made them do cruel, terrible things, and forgiving themselves for them became the greatest challenge of them all.
I still feel drunk on these books, moved by a story I truly never expected, and craving more of it already. I hoped that all loose ends would be tied tightly together, never to unravel again, but a few storylines were wrapped up rather quickly and left somewhat unresolved, perhaps leaving a small opening for a possible sequel. In my eyes, however, the forever-evolving connection between Scarlett and Dante remained the focal point of this story until the very end, and I did not need anything more in order to walk away from them with a huge, goofy smile on my face.
“I'm tired of hating you, when all my heart has ever needed is to love you.”
I was drunk. Good and stinking drunk.
We were at the crew hotel in Seattle (not my favorite town) on a layover and we were trolling the lobby bar.
Okay, I was trolling the lobby hotel. My girls were just there for moral support.
I was planning to make up for the fact that I’d just spent a solid month being a pathetic, lovesick fool moping in my room, crying in my bed.
Staying at home. Hating myself. Wanting to disappear.
But I’d decided tonight that I was done with that.
I was on the hunt for a stand-in punching bag. I had decided about three drinks ago that I’d feel much better about myself if I put at least one man between me and my last memory of Dante.
I was looking around, a pout on my face. “No cute boys,” I told the girls.
“I’m not sad,” Leona said, studying me. “I don’t think I want you to find a cute boy when you’re in this shape.”
They were sitting in a booth and I was standing next to it. I was not in a sitting mood. I was in a get some male attention mood. I just wished there were some males around worth being noticed by.
I’d already shot down two that just weren’t cute enough. More specifically: reject number one wasn’t tall enough and reject number two looked too wholesome.
I didn’t like wholesome, never had. I craved sinister categorically.
“Don’t speak too soon,” Farrah said, eyes aimed at the door. “I’ll let you have him if you want him, but damn, I sure don’t want to.”
I turned to see. And smiled.
It was my lucky day.
Either he was actually looking for me or it was a hell of a coincidence but, Dante’s half-brother, Bastian, had just walked in the door.
He was standing there, scanning the room, and it didn’t take him long to zero in on me.
I tilted my head and grinned back, then pointed my chin at the bar, heading there with a bouncing little strut.
He beat me to it, and watched me approach, his eyes all over me.
I was glad I’d turned myself out well.
My minuscule nude dress was basically man catnip. It hit all the right buttons: deep cleavage that left very little of my abundant breasts to the imagination, short skirt that showed off my sky-high legs. The whole thing was fitted to show off my flat tummy and hourglass figure.
Pink platform stilettos and sexy bedroom hair didn’t hurt my situation, and my makeup had been on point before I’d gotten sloppy drunk. Who could say now? Who could care?
Not me. I felt sexy as hell either way.
“Hello, stranger,” I said when I got within earshot of Bastian. “You look good enough to eat.”
And he did. Three-piece suit, dark, messy hair, five o’clock shadow, a handsome as hell Durant face, and a devilish smile.
Yeah, he’d do.
“Look who’s talking,” he retorted, eyes on my catnip dress. “My God, woman, you are trouble, aren’t you?”
I went to hug him, because drunk, and breathed into his ear. “You have no idea.”
“Unfortunately, I don’t.” He sounded truly regretful about that as he put his hands on my hips and set me back just the slightest bit. “I’m sure you’ve guessed, but I came here to talk to you.”
“How did you know I’d be here?” I asked him, cocking my head to the side.
His mouth twisted ruefully, and when he did that he reminded me so much of Dante that I wanted to smash something over his head. And cry. And run away. And kiss him.
“Facebook. You and your friends love to share your locations, and, you know, I live here.”
I scrunched my nose up. “Facebook stalking me, are you?”
He was unapologetic. “Yes. It’s a helpful tool. Actually, I was going to fly down to see you soon, but this worked out much better. Well, it did if you’re up for a serious talk that I’d like you to remember in the morning.”
“I’m not up for a serious anything,” I told him and, because drunk, I pressed my mouth to his.
He made a little noise in this throat, a hungry one, and I licked his lips, brushing my breasts against him.
He set me away, but he was breathing hard.
“You taste good,” I told him.
He smiled but not like he was happy. “Do I taste like revenge?”
“Exactly like that. Yum.”
“Trust me, you beautiful, edible, dangerous creature, I would love to take you up on that, but it’s a line we can’t cross.”
“There’s no line I won’t cross,” I said, meaning it. I was feeling self-destructive to a dangerous, limitless degree. “God, do you know what he did to me the last time I saw him?”
“I heard a bit about it,” Bastian said solemnly.
That surprised me. “What did you hear? And from whom?”
He sighed. “From Dante. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that he’s in rough shape.”
That bit of unfair bullshit only made me more determined. I moved closer and he let me. I rubbed up against him, my lips in kissing distance of his again, teasing him. “Let’s make it rougher for him, huh?”
“Jesus,” he said, and it reminded me so much of Dante that I wrenched away.
I leaned against the bar, flagging down the busy bartender.
He didn’t make me wait, in fact stopped what he was doing and came to do my bidding with a smile.
I’d been flirting with him all night, but he wasn’t my type. He was tall but his shoulders weren’t broad enough. Still, the right smile got me some amazing service.
“Hey, Scarlett,” he said, his tone when he said my name making it sound like we were old friends or new lovers. “Another Black Label for you?”
“You’re the best, Benny,” I told him, leaning forward, shamelessly teasing him. “Can you make it two?”
He nodded, eyes on my cleavage. “Anything you want, gorgeous.”
“Wow,” Bastian whistled when Benny moved away to get our drinks. “If I was Dante, I would lock you up.”
“Well, that’s not what he did,” I said, and it was an effort to keep my voice steady. “He threw me away. Again.”
“Oh, Scarlett,” Bastian sighed. “I have a few things to ask you, and so much to tell you. I’m not sure just how drunk you are, but I’m pretty positive that what I have to say will sober you up.”
That was an understatement. What he had to tell me didn’t just sober me up.
It changed everything.