Advanced Reading Copy
Published: October 22, 2013, Forever
My rating: 4 of 5 ⭐️
Lila Summers learned a long time ago that as long as you have looks, the right presentation, the perfect package, what you carried around inside you mattered to no one. Other than the exterior that was carefully applied day after day for the benefit of the outside world, Lila was as lost to herself as she was to anyone else. Every now and then, when her lack of caring would lead her too close to danger, she had only one person to call who would keep her safe.
Still young and already jaded by life, Ethan Gregory doesn't believe in relationships. He had a distorted view from childhood and had his own messed up attempt at one. Better to stick with no strings attached physical release and nothing else, which is why, although Lila tempted him plenty, he had never crossed that line with her. He doesn't want to mess up Lila's friendship, besides, she is too high maintenance for him.
The next time Ethan responds to a call and finds Lila in real trouble, unable to put her customary shields up, fully exposed to him. He comes to realize how little he really knows about her. She has far more darkness than the occasional glimpses she would show. Having turned his back once before, Ethan is determined to help her, whether she welcomes him or not. He just needs to be careful not to get drawn in to her anymore than he already is.
But an undeniably strong connection, explosive chemistry, increasing need and close proximity, make it impossible to deny themselves and each other what so clearly was what nature intended.
Pretty heavy and heady stuff, but really good!
The overall feel of the book is rather dark and messed up, but through the initial feel of depression and lost morality comes a thread of hope in the form of a pure emotion.....a selfless caring that breaks down walls and heals wounds. The rescue of another soul, and in doing so, saving one's own.
Lila doesn't know love, has never experienced the concept of unconditional anything. She has been taught that to be accepted in any form, one must fit a particular mold that is based on appearance only. Who you are is never important, what you represent is. Her individuality crushed her entire life, she has no clue of her own identity and is utterly lost. Despite that, pieces of a personality have managed to shine through and people have been drawn to that, people who started caring for the Lila who could be, like Ethan, who gave her the freedom and courage to just be.
Stuck in an unresolved tragedy in his past, Ethan never felt the need or the drive to move on. Convinced that relationships equalled pain, he would avoid involvement always. He had already turned away from a destructive path he had been on when he was younger, but had not healed emotionally. When his friendship with Lila intensified and he was forced to spend all his time with her to keep her safe, still not willing to cross the lines of friendship into a relationship, it was almost ironic. Whether a love relationship or a friendship relationship, when there is love involved, there is also the possibility of pain. Without realizing, he had already made himself vulnerable in a way he though he was avoiding.
The character development was interesting to witness, Ethan was further ahead in his growth than Lila, but his growth was more gradual. For Lila it was sudden, almost brutal, the way all her protective layers were stripped away, forcing her to stand exposed all at once. But she had Ethan at her back.
A harsh, but quite beautiful coming of age story. Not for the faint of heart, due to the description of drug use, some sexual abuse and childhood verbal abuse. However, this is also a story of crawling out of the deepest and darkest of holes and finding yourself standing, for the first time, in the bright sunlight.
Ms. Sorensen is able to turn a troubling and destitute tale into a story of victory. A reminder that where you come from should never be an excuse for where you are going.
✨Compelling, intense, raw and hopeful tale of becoming!✨
**ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Forever in return for an honest review.**