"To anyone who knows what it's like to be broken and to everyone who is stronger because of it."
Book I: If You Stay
Pax Tate is an asshole, and he knows it. He embraces it. After the death of his mother, Pax's life has spiraled. He uses drugs and woman to fill the void, to avoid feeling the pain of a past that he can't remember, but haunts him. He is content to live in oblivion, until he meets Mila Hill.
Mila never could imagine the turn her life would take when she comes across Pax on the beach, near death from an overdose. The connection between Pax and Mila is strong, and Mila finds herself wanting to save Pax.
As Pax and Mila fall for each other, Pax knows that he has to find a way to face his past and deal with it. When the dark secrets from his past are finally revealed, Pax resorts to his assholian tendencies and shuts Mila out. Mila does her best to be there for him, but his coldness drives her away. When he realizes that he may have just driven away the only good thing in his life, Pax sets out to tackle his demons once and for all and give Mila a reason to stay.
Loved this book! Despite Pax's assholian behavior, it was clear from the beginning that it was all just a front to cover up a beautifully broken soul. I loved Pax and all of his tattooed swagger. He is a character teetering on the edge - one step away from darkness, one from light. Mila is his saving grace. This story got me - hook, line, and sinker - from the very beginning. It was angsty, full of plenty of steamy scenes, and of course, had a swoon worthy male lead who is redeemed by love. What more could a girl ask for? A happy ending? It's got that too.
Former Army Ranger, Gabriel Vincent, has a dark secret, a demon that followed him home from Afghanistan. He is content to keep everyone at an arms length. Then he meets Madison Hill. A chance encounter goes awry and Madison catches a glimpse of the demon haunting Gabe. He is happy to pretend like nothing happened, believing that he will never see Maddy again.
When Jacey, Maddy's friend, tells her that her brother is coming to visit, Maddy never expects Gabe to walk through her restaurant's door. Maddy, bent on proving that she doesn't need anyone, tries to ignore the connection between her and Gabe. It is clear that Gabe's got issues, and the last thing Maddy needs is a messed up relationship like her parents had.
Despite their vows to stay away, Gabe and Maddy are drawn to each other. The closer they get, the harder Gabe struggles to keep his demons at bay. When Gabe unconsciously lashes out at Maddy, he knows that the safest thing for him to do is leave. But in doing so, Gabe will face the most important decision of his life: leave and stay away forever or leave and finally face the demon that haunts him, and pray that Madison will give him another chance.
I loved this one even more than the first book. I've always has a soft spot in my heart for men in uniform, and Gabe is the perfect solider. It breaks my heart to see soldiers coming back with PTSD, damaged by the things they are asked to do while defending our freedom and safety. It was heart warming to see him redeemed by love and reach a place where he was able to forgive himself. I know that not everyone reaches that place in the real world. This is an intense story, much more than If You Stay. I couldn't put it down and I wanted a happy ending for this couple so badly. Thankfully, that's exactly what I got.
Dominic Kinkaide is damaged. While living in the public eye, no one knows the real Dominic. He covets the darkness, prefers to stay detached, seeks the depraved, because he knows that he doesn't deserve better. This short novella is meant to introduce us to Dominic and give us a glimpse into this life, which is very dark. While the reasons behind his darkness are not revealed, it is clear that this sexy-as-sin bad boy is damaged goods. He's in the same vein as Christian Grey, without the mommy issues. I think you can take this novella or leave it. You can enjoy Dominic's book without having read it, but I do think it adds to the understanding to his character.
Dominic Kinkaide's life changed forever when he was a senior in high school. Now he is haunted by a past he can never escape. As one of Hollywood's golden boys, everyone recognizes Dominic, but no one really knows him. He has shut himself off to real connection, choosing to stay in the shadows of life.
Jacey Vincent is always looking for love in the wrong places. Ignored by her father, Jacey seeks affection in the arms of any man willing to give her the time of day. After a tragic accident that puts her loser ex-boyfriend in jail, Jacey is determined to get her life back on track, to make better decisions. Dominic Kinkaide is exactly the type of guy she knows she needs to stay away from, but the connection between the two is undeniable.
As Dominic falls for Jacey, he will be forced to confront the ghosts of his past, exposing the truth once and for all.
This is another great one. Dominic and Jacey's story is another intense one, but in a different way than If You Leave. This is a dark story and contains plenty of situations that are reminiscent of 50 Shades. Dominic is clearly a damaged and haunted soul and there are plenty of surprises in this story, particularly as the truth of what really happened to Dominic is revealed. This is another page turner with a happy ending.
I highly recommend this series if you enjoy angsty romances with damaged guys who are ultimately redeemed by love. I sincerely hope that Courtney Cole is planning to continue this series. There are a few other characters (Gabe's friend, Brandon and Dominic's brother, Sin) who I would love to see get their own books. I haven't seen any announcements for more books, so I guess for now I will have to keep my fingers crossed and just hope.