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This book was all kinds of unexpected. A darkly intense, angsty, emotional story with a friends-to-lovers relationship that is complicated and passionate with a great balance of teasing, banter and all-consuming emotion. I was surprised by the intensity of the story, and by the amazing writing which sucked me immediately into Josh’s world and kept me mesmerised from start to finish.
The story is written entirely from the POV of our fucked-up hero, Josh. He is a man who has been shattered by his past and is struggling with his present, and he’s a wonderful storyteller – intelligent and witty with self-depreciating honesty – I loved his voice! Josh and Hadley met as 5 year olds in the foster system and they remained close when they were taken to live with permanent guardians. They were the best of friends all through childhood and that friendship developed into something more… until one night changed everything and Josh’s actions broke Hadley and tore them apart.
The downward spiral into this spectacular status of stagnant awful between Punky and I began four years ago. It was the best night of my life, until it wasn’t.
*God, how amazing is that quote! Gah, I love King’s writing!!!!*
It’s now four years later. Josh and Hadley are living together as roommates in Josh’s childhood home, they remain close yet their friendship is strained, and Josh wishes things were different.
Fact was, I never had a fucking clue what was going on in her head, but I’d give anything to still have the right to ask.
We know immediately that he is in love with Hadley. But he is so tormented by his past, by all that he has been through and by what he put Hadley through that he doesn’t see a way forward for them. He wants nothing more than to be there for her, to repay the debt he feels he owes her and to get back what they lost, but his situation seems hopeless.
Hadley was gorgeous, funny when she wanted to be, a total pain in my ass, snarky, smart, talented. Yes, I knew she was a keeper. But I’d lost her already. There was no retracing my steps down that road.
Josh and Hadley’s history is complicated, and the full extent of it is revealed slowly and cleverly. Tyler King keeps us guessing and unveils secrets bit by bit to keep us flipping pages to get to the bottom of the dysfunction and see if these two star-crossed lovers can ever find the happiness they deserve so badly.
This complicated, infuriating woman had never been easy. Our lives would never be simple. I didn’t love her because it was painless. We were a fucking mess and sometimes it hurt. But she understood me the way no one else could. And I’d never give up on her without a fight.
This is a really unique relationship, but the most defining feature for me was their complete and utter devotion to each other. Despite all that they have been through, Josh and Hadley have remained the key people in each other’s lives, and the way they are there for each other is beautifully portrayed. And though the book is written entirely from Josh’s perspective, he gives us a clear picture of who Hadley is – a strong, brave woman with a wicked sense of humour who is battling her own demons. They are dysfunctional, slightly co-dependent and angsty as all hell, but there’s something about them that is just so right.
My Hadley didn’t live atop a pedestal. Neither of us was under any misconception that we were anything but flawed individuals with extensive backgrounds in mistakes and bad decisions. We’d both inflicted pain on each other and suffered our fair share. Despite all of that, and maybe because of it, her lips joined with mine felt like salvation.
They are both completely devoted to each other, and even though they are deeply scarred by their pasts their connection cannot be denied. And once they finally get to the point where they can acknowledge those feelings, all of that intensity is kicked up a notch as the angst eases into romance, and it’s emotional, intense (and hot!), and beautifully honest.
“My life didn’t begin until I met you. I’ve loved you every day that matters. I’m so fucking in love with you and you scare the shit out of me.”
But there are still issues from the past to be dealt with and demons to be wrestled, and just when they get to where they have always wanted to be, will they be able to hold onto it?
This story is a real roller coaster. Emotional, raw and gritty, it’s heartbreaking at times, but breaking through that intensity is Josh and Hadley’s fantastic banter and teasing. They both have a wonderfully sarcastic sense of humour, and I love that that their fun and easy manner with each other shines through all of the angst.
“You’ve always had my heart.”
She looked up, biting her lip and failing to hide her sweet smirk. “That was the cheesiest line I’ve ever heard.”
“That? That’s what you tell me when I profess my undying love for you? Fuck, Punky. You’re killing me.”
She laughed, grabbing two fistfuls of my hair and shaking my head. “I love you.”
There’s also a great cast of side characters that add to the story, and I loved seeing how Josh and Hadley’s friends had their backs. I laughed out loud at their conversations, and loved the scenes where they were all together.
I really liked this book. It wasn’t what I was expected, but I enjoyed the surprisingly gritty ride, and I’m eagerly waiting for more from this very talented author.
4 stars (3.5 for the story, rated up because the writing was so good).
An Advanced Review Copy was generously provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.