I won this book in a contest along with Smiles by Trials. I didn’t know anything about the book or the author but decided to read it, and I was more than pleasantly surprised.
The story follows two characters attending a small college in Appalachia, Sawyer and Andrew. Both are learning to live on their own away from their families, and both are recovering from trauma. Andrew’s trauma is revealed right away while Sawyer is plagued by something dark and secretive. It takes a lot to draw out the truth of her pain.
The characterization and storytelling in this book were extremely well done. Writing the intense anxiety of undiagnosed PTSD, and making it both realistic and relatable, is not an easy feat. Alyse Rains is a master at drawing out emotional tension and holding it steady. This is especially true because the scenes are not depicting danger or action, but in surviving everyday life with crippling anxiety.
Ms. Raines leads Sawyer and Andrew not only through a budding relationship, but through the steps of healing throughout the story. Learning to love and trust, to grow internally and externally in order to find their places in the world. By the end of the story I was left feeling that they were people in I knew in my real life. I would gladly read a sequel to this book to find out where they go next in their relationship.
This book is a romance, and it touches on themes of abuse and survival, of family and friends, and of healing. It also has some steamy moments, as well as some descriptions of violence, and so I would put the rating at M for Mature audience.
I give this book 5 Stars