It is always with immense excitement that I return to A.L. Jackson’s writing, her impassioned, expressive style forever leaving me more than a little in awe of her extraordinary talent, and time and time again, she proves to me why she remains one of my most respected authors. Utterly seductive and ever-evolving, her prose enthrals the reader with its hypnotic tempo, but it is the electrifying depth of emotion behind her every sentence that makes us willing captives. In my eyes, Ms. Jackson is both poet and remarkable storyteller, and after every one of her books, I soar away certain of having found a new favourite.
I chose to live my life like every day might be my last. Reckless. I embraced the chaos and the nonstop women and the endless nights. Live fast and die hard. Didn’t want it any other way.
Watching his bandmates find love and fight tooth and nail for their happily-ever-afters has in no way swayed Sunder’s bassist and self-appointed bad boy to follow their lead. An incorrigible flirt and the light of every party, Ash Evans is set on enjoying life to the fullest and never tying himself down to anyone, but when his recklessness suddenly leaves him in a bloody heap in a dark, deserted alleyway, Ash is convinced to be staring death in the face, until a pair of chocolate eyes pulls him back to life.
“It doesn’t matter that it could have been someone else. Only thing that matters to me is that it was you.”
Willow Langston’s life is one of habit and routine. The owner of a quaint little antique store in the heart of Savannah’s historic district, Willow draws comfort from the old furniture she restores, finding something worth saving even in the most damaged of objects, and never failing to see beauty in the broken. But Willow’s life is also one of solitude and loneliness—slowly stripped of all the people she cared for the most—trapped in a grief-ridden bubble she doesn’t know how to escape. And from the moment she locks eyes with the battered young man lying crumpled in front of her store, she knows in her gut that he would deliver the final blow to her heart.
I didn’t have any place left inside myself to get ripped up and torn to pieces. And somehow I knew this man would tear me to shreds.
Once on the mend and well enough to find his Good Samaritan, Ash walks into Willow’s store wishing to repay a debt that he knows could never be repaid, only to find himself lost in a daze of familiarity every time he looks into the young woman’s chocolate eyes.
She’d bound herself to me in a way I was sure neither of us could quite understand. They said traumas did that to people. Tangled their souls together, and I couldn’t stop feeling like mine was tangled with hers.
He offers her anything she wishes, anything in his power to give, but the more he gets to know Willow, the more he realises that all that the sweet, timid, beautiful young woman dreams of finding is someone who would love her and never leave her. And that is the one thing that Ash is incapable of giving her, regardless of how much he wishes things were different.
“Even if I wanted to hold you…keep you…it’s all wrong, baby. It’s all wrong because I’m wrong. I’m ugly in all those places people can’t see. That’s a place I can’t let you go. Won’t let you go. You deserve so much better than what’s waiting there.”
As a genuine friendship and affection between them grows, the pull between them grows even stronger with each passing day, slowly taking shape and becoming a combustible energy that crackles between them and refuses to be denied. They pretend not to feel when their every touch, every feverish kiss tells a different story, and even as their souls become inexorably tied to one another, they are reminded daily that their lives are heading in opposite directions.
“When you kiss me…it doesn’t feel like pretending. It feels like the best thing I’ve ever felt.”
“That’s because when I kiss you? It’s not pretend. When I tell you you’re gorgeous—the best thing I’ve ever seen? I mean it.”
In Willow we find a young woman who wears her heart on her sleeve, but whose quiet strength is best seen in her unwillingness to settle for anything less than the kind of happiness she’s dreamed of finding all her life. It’s heartbreaking watching her catch glimpses of that kind of love all around her, seeing her recognise it, yearn for it, wish she would find someone who would love her that fiercely, yet never give up on her dream. In Ash we find a man who believes himself incapable of giving the woman of his dreams all the things he knows she deserves, regardless of how much he loves her, and that raging battle between his heart and mind is what drives the story forward.
“What’s your greatest fear?”
“Falling in love. Being responsible for it. For the happiness of another, knowing one day I’m liable to let them down.”
A compelling and moving tale of love between two people inexplicably tied by fate, whose journeys to one another might have been long and riddled by loss, but whose connection remains forever written in the stars—this is a book I adored, cover to cover, and I can’t sing enough praises about its every beautiful word.
“Tell me you love me…the way I love you.”
Her lips parted, and her expression churned in confusion.
Lust. Need. Want. Fear.
All of them played out across her delicate features.
I shouldn’t have. I knew I shouldn’t. But there was nothing I could do to stop myself.
Always, always in the moment.
That was me.
I pressed her harder against the wall, my straining cock eager against her jean-clad pussy.
Desperate for friction.
Anxious for relief.
Everything sparked, and I could have sworn the room spun, the ground shifting below our feet.
She gasped out in surprise, eyes so damned wide. Her nails pricked where they dug into the flesh of my shoulders.
What was this girl doing to me?
I leaned down, my mouth close to her ear. My voice came on a rough murmur. “Do you want me?”