A second chance romance set against the vibrant but treacherous backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, and brought to life through K.K. Allen’s stunning, lyrical prose, this book had everything I was looking for in a story—suspense, mystery, love everlasting—and I found myself consumed by every word, every feeling, every single thrill. A tale of small town secrets, of young love lost and found, infused with intense emotion, and speckled with spine-tingling twists and turns, this was truly one of the best books I’ve ever read, and one I only wish I could read for the very first time all over again.
I want to feel that again, the whimsical freedom of my childhood before my world turned upside down. Before I lost everything— including myself.
The small mountain town of Balsam Grove is the only place that has ever felt like home to Aurora June. But a horrific chain of events that took place when she was only seventeen years old had driven her away from everything she held dear, including a first love that ended all too harshly. After six long years of trying to move forward from her past and only losing more and more of herself in the process, she returns to Balsam Grove, determined to find peace, and to face a past she’s kept locked away in her mind for too long.
For so long, I was okay with the numbness. The darkness. In a way, it was all I knew. It was my way of shutting out a past that would otherwise haunt me.
But as a living reminder of one of the darkest chapters in the town’s history, Aurora is immediately met with disdain and distrust everywhere she goes, made only worse by the very palpable animosity coming from the man who was once her whole world. After so many years of trying and failing to find herself again, however, Aurora knows that Balsam Grove holds the key to unlocking her memories, and she refuses to leave until she feels whole once more. Even if it means being reminded every single day of how much her heart still aches for the one she left behind.
How I wish my deepest desires weren’t chasing after fallen memories, so I could be free to love again.
Jaxon Mills has only ever loved one girl in his life, and when she went away, she left him broken and forlorn, nothing and no one ever filling the void she left behind. And while her sudden return inevitably opens old wounds and dredges up painful memories, it also makes him realise that his love for her seems only to have grown.
How can someone who exited my life so coolly still warm me in the only place that matters?
While the years have done nothing to diminish the physical attraction between them, their every moment together only serves to remind them both of the deep, all-consuming kind of love they only ever found in each other, and with a dangerous enemy lurking in the shadows and threatening everything they’ve slowly begun to rebuild between them, Aurora and Jaxon find themselves fighting an enemy they never even knew they had.
He was a thrill to be with. A forbidden fruit I could only wish to taste. He gave me adventure when the rest of the world gave me rules.
We watch the heroine not only survive and thrive in a place where friends and foes alike can harm her, where her breathtaking surroundings are as much a key to her past as they are a perpetual threat, but we also watch her find herself again through the love of a man who strips her of the masks she’s worn for so long. By painting a vivid picture of Aurora’s struggle to reconnect with her past and find a way back to herself, K.K. Allen delivers a story that is incredibly multilayered, as deeply romantic as it is thrilling, and while some moments in it are heartbreaking and shocking, it left me feeling uplifted and smiling like a fool. And the whole novel comes together under Allen’s gorgeous writing style that sears right into you and leaves you utterly speechless. This is one of those books I cannot wait to re-read.
…why do I still feel this incorrigible need to chase my past, no matter what darkness still lies there?