Ah, there’s nothing quite like the sweet, prickly angst of a second chance romance! The mere premise of this book called to me from the start—just the idea of a soldier coming back from war and having to fight for the woman he’d left behind making me tingle with excitement—but I knew that in the hands of this author, a story like this can become something truly special. Because when Tara Sivec wants to make you laugh, she will leave you in stitches, but when she is set on making your heart hurt, her words will feel like daggers, and you will undoubtedly love every single second of it. A passionate tale of love and forgiveness—tragic yet hopeful, with two star-crossed lovers whose selfless devotion to one another knows no bounds—this was a book that kept surprising me at every turn, and from the first page, it had me completely hooked.
I wonder if she’d touch me with the same boldness now that scars disfigure my skin. I wonder if she’d love me the same way when she saw how twisted and confused my mind has become just so I can make it through another day. I wonder if she still thinks of me as much as I do her. I wonder if she knows she’s the only reason I’m still breathing, still fighting, and still holding on.
After going missing during a failed mission in Afghanistan that killed most of his teammates, Lieutenant Elijah “Eli” James was presumed dead for the next five years of his life. Captured, tortured, and brought to the brink of death time after time again by his captors, the only thing that kept Eli fighting to stay alive was the memory of the woman he loved and unwillingly left behind. So when he is suddenly found and brought back home, he becomes determined not to waste another second of his life not getting his girl back. But when he sees her again, he soon realises that five years have changed them both irrevocably.
“Don’t make this more difficult than it already is.”
“Princess, you wouldn’t know difficult if it walked in here and smacked you across the face. While you were sitting here all nice and cozy in your fancy castle in your perfect, pathetic world, helping your mother toss her money around, I was fighting for my life. Fighting for one more fucking breath just so I could come back here to you. But there’s nothing left, is there?”
Shelby Eubanks might have grown as the heiress of the Eubanks empire and only daughter of the ‘Queen of Charleston’, but she has always known that her heart lay elsewhere. Despite her privileged upbringing and the expectations her mother had of her, Shelby tirelessly pursued a dream that she knew would also be her only escape from the path that had been paved before her. And when she then fell in love with a man who would never belong to the world she was so desperate to leave behind, her future with him became a dream she could not wait to start living. But everything changed in the blink of an eye, shattering all her hopes and dreams, and trapping her in a life built on nothing but memories and regrets.
I’ve allowed someone else to make all my decisions, rule my life and crush my dreams because I don’t know how to stop loving him more than I hate him.
Once a passionate, confident, rebellious young woman who stole his heart at first sight, Eli can barely recognise his Shelby in the one standing before him, and the more he gets to know this new version of the woman he used to love, the more resentful he becomes of the person she’s turned into. But while their every encounter is filled with the tragic tension of a love that should thrive but seems to not stand a chance, their every touch makes Eli more and more determined to make Shelby remember who she used to be, and that no matter what, she would always belong in his arms.
I’ll get my shit together and I’ll bring her back. Goddammit, I will bring her back because I can’t live in a world where Shelby Eubanks isn’t okay.
An emotional and truly compelling story packed with so many twists and turns from the first page to the very last, I found myself devouring it in one sitting. I felt that the plotline at times bordered on the improbable, becoming unnecessarily far-fetched just to add more and more layers to a story that never really needed so many elements of surprise to keep the reader enthralled, but I enjoyed every single one of them, and even began to anticipate them. And regardless of its many unexpected directions, at the core of it all lies a timeless, dazzling love story that made my heart race and my stomach do cartwheels page after page. I fell hard for these characters, I felt their every emotion, their every up and down, and coupled with Tara Sivec’s knack for storytelling, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone in a heartbeat.
“For five years, you saved me, and you didn’t even know it. Now it’s my turn to save you.”