Sunday, March 17, 2013

If You Stay by Courtney Cole

If You Stay by Courtney Cole
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Lakehouse Press

24-year old Pax Tate is an asshole.   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 fa├žade.  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.  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.    - Goodreads.com

What a heartbreaking story.  This one sucked me in immediately.  Pax is self-destructing with no one there to help him out of it, until Mila comes along.  I loved these two characters.  There is so much to Pax that you just had to love him, despite the fact that you hate his choices.  He was so much more than just a tattooed bad boy.  He has real pain, real issues to deal with, and real emotions that cause him to adopt a lifestyle that is slowly killing him.  Mila is sweet, patient, and loving, exactly what he needs.  Both characters were so well crafted and had such depth that there were added layers to the story that I didn't anticipate.

I haven't read a book in a long time that had me literally about to cry as I read through it.  These are very adult themes that we're dealing with here, one of which is a drug habit.  His struggle to regain his memory was compelling, and Mila being by his side, loving him unconditionally, as he attempts this was so sweet.  The romance was just perfect.  It's not a shiny little romance that's presented in a pretty package... it's more like what you would face in the real world, where you see that everyone has griefs, bad choices, and negative behaviors to overcome. 

The writing was beautiful, rich, and had me thoroughly captured.  This is alternately a heartbreaking story, but also an uplifting one.  I flew through it and am definitely a fan of Courtney Cole's now.  Great book.



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