Advanced Reading Copy
Published: September 15, 2013, Marie Hall Publishing
My rating: 4 of 5 ⭐
Alex is floundering...... For years he had a purpose, to take care of his cousin Ryan, but with Lily coming into Ryan's life and taking over that job, Alex had no clue what he was supposed to do now. He always drowned the pain in meaningless sex, but even that does not seem to work anymore. When a fortune cookie prompts him to go into a tattoo parlor, suddenly his world shifts.
It had taken Zoe Stone years to get over her high school crush, but when Alexander Donovan walks in the door, he still takes her breath away. Of course he has no clue who she is. She was a quiet, mousy studious girl back then and he was the golden boy. Now she is an inked-up freak, and he still is golden, except all man.
She does something to him, makes him want to be around her. Alex is drawn to this girl and can't believe she seems to be interested too. He just doesn't want her to see inside him, doesn't want her to know his shame. His therapist tells him to open up, but what if he scares her and she runs?
Zoe can see the pain and darkness hiding in his eyes. He hides it well, with the play and the flirting, but it's there, underneath. She hopes he will trust enough one day to let her in, to tell her. He stands by her, when she has to face her parents who disapprove of anything she does. She will stand by him through anything. Anything at all.
Beautifully compelling story with characters that draw on your heartstrings.
Alex has been living with guilt almost his entire life.........guilt he doesn't deserve to shoulder. He blames himself for a self preserving feeling he had when he was a little boy, not equipped to process the magnitude of what he was dealing with at the time, and all of the adults failed him terribly. That feeling burned the guilt in him so dark, that his life thereafter was spent atoning for it. That was on top of the obvious trauma he had suffered. No wonder the guy was messed up, but really so good at heart.
Zoe is just a sweet and loyal girl who wants to live her own life, without hurting anyone, including her parents. So even though she is pierced and tattooed, she manages to cover herself up when in the presence of her family, out of respect, but she will not tow their line. Even with Zoe trying to set her own course, her parents can not resist interfering and almost cost her the one thing she has always wanted; Alex. Her patience with him is endless, because she can see beyond all his surface behaviours and knows there is a beautiful person underneath.
Sad to see misguided parents who think they know what is best for their children and in their need to control almost destroy what they love so well.
✨A gorgeous, tender, painful story of love after damage.✨
**ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Marie Hall Publishing in return for an honest review.**