If You Leave

If You LeaveTitle: If You Leave
Author: Courtney Cole
Series: Beautifully Broken #2
Publisher: Forever
Date: August 6, 2013
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Courtney Cole's New York Times bestselling Beautifully Broken series continues with IF YOU LEAVE.

26-year old Gabriel Vincent is a badass hero. Or he used to be, anyway. As an ex-Army Ranger, Gabe never thought he needed anyone. But after one horrible night in Afghanistan scars him in a way that he can't get past, he needs someone who can help him heal...even if he doesn't realize it.

25-year old Madison Hill doesn't need anybody...or so she thinks. She grew up watching her parents' messed-up abusive relationship and she knows there's no way in hell that she's ever letting that happen to her.

They don't know it in the beginning, but Gabriel and Madison will soon develop a weakness: Each other.

But Gabriel's got a secret, a hidden monster that he's afraid Maddy could never overcome... And Maddy's got issues that she's afraid Gabe will never understand. They quickly realize that they need each other to be whole, but at the same time they know that they've got demons to fight.

And the problem with demons is that they never die quietly.


***

 

If You Leave had all of the elements I love about a Courtney Cole novel—a strong set of characters, a swoon worthy romance, and something slightly unexpected to give the plot an extra edge. While I certainly enjoyed it, I didn’t like If You Leave as much as I did If You Stay because the love story wasn’t as hard to win and the plot wasn’t so jaw dropping that you know you’ll never forget it. Even though I wish it had more of the elements seen in If You Stay, If You Leave was a wonderful, fast-paced, and romantic read.

Madison and Gabriel have chemistry from the second they lay eyes on each other. Even though the two are clearly perfect for each other, it’s not insta-love. There is something that they clearly need to get out of their systems, and even though they don’t get along fabulously in the beginning there are plenty of sparks that make you hope they can work everything out.

Being that this is a Beautifully Broken novel, we know that there will certainly be a lot of emotional baggage for the couple to sort through. Gabriel is a vet and has seen more than his share of demons, and watching him struggle though it was emotional for the reader. I loved that this book explored some of the issues that vets go through when they get back from war. I can’t even imagine what it’s like, so the book was educational for me in that regard.

Even though I wanted more from the love story and the plot, If You Leave was a great novel. Madison and Gabriel were fantastic together and I loved reading about how they sorted out their issues. Fans of Courtney Cole won’t be disappointed!

If You Stay

If You StayTitle: If You Stay
Author: Courtney Cole
Series: Beautifully Broken #1
Publisher: Lakehouse Press
Date: February 5, 2013
Pages: 220
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

24-year old Pax Tate is an asshole.
Seriously.

He’s a tattooed, rock-hard bad-boy with a bad attitude to match.

But he’s got his reasons.

His mother died when Pax was seven, leaving a hole in his heart filled with guilt although he doesn’t understand why. What he does know is that he and his dad are left alone and with more issues than they can count.

As Pax grew up, he tried to be the kid his father always wanted; the perfect golden boy, but it didn’t work. His dad couldn’t overcome his grief long enough to notice and Pax couldn’t keep up the impossible perfect façade.
So he slipped far, far from it.

Now, he uses drugs and women to cope with the ugliness, the black void that he doesn’t want to deal with. If he pretends that the emptiness isn’t there, then it isn’t, right?
Wrong.

And it’s never more apparent than when he meets Mila.

Sweet, beautiful Mila Hill is the fresh air to his hardened frown, the beauty to his ugly heart. He doesn’t know how to not hurt her, but he quickly realizes that he’s got to figure it out because he needs her to breathe.

When memories of his mother’s death resurface from where he’s repressed them for so long, Mila is there to catch him when the guilt starts making sense. Mila is the one…the one who can save him from his broken troubled heart; from his issues, from the emptiness.

But only if he can stop being an asshole long enough to allow it.

He knows that. And he’s working on it.

But is that enough to make her stay?


***

 

Courtney Cole writes phenomenal love stories. I just eat everything she writes up, and If You Stay was no exception. While the story was off to a pretty disturbing and pretty gross start, it was obvious that it was going to turn out to be something special. If You Stay is a story of growing up, learning to trust, and letting yourself love.

Pax is a straight-up bad boy. He has a trust fund and spends his life getting wasted (even though he isn’t an addict) and just being an overall burden to society. Naturally, he is rescued and falls for good-girl Mila. It may sound a bit generic, but it is anything but.

The love story was believable and very well done. There were so many romantic and swoon-worthy moments. Since this is a new adult, there were also some pretty steamy scenes. Despite all of the obstacles the two faced, I couldn’t help routing for them. I also loved that Mila had her own troubled past (even though she dealt with them in a much healthier manner than Pax ever did). Mila is a good girl with her own problems and that just makes her so much more interesting than the typical girl who saves the guy.

Even though this is very much a love story, it’s also Pax’s story. Pax has a lot to cope with—more than he even realizes. When I think about all of the horrific things that happened, I still get chills. Courtney Cole did such an amazing job with Pax and after seeing his quest to rebuild his life, I realize why he was such a douche. There are some seriously messed up stuff in his past. The sheer tragedy of Pax’s life is enough to make this one worth reading.

If You Stay is an amazing read. From Pax’s tragic past to the incredibly sweet ending, Mila and Pax are two characters you just won’t forget about. Well-developed characters, steamy moments, and growing up all make this an amazing read that will stay with you forever.

 

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