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How much can a man take before he breaks?
1,843 days. That’s how long I survived in that hellhole. They tried to break me, but I resisted. And I owe it all to the memory of warm summer nights, the scent of peaches, and the one woman who loved me more than I ever deserved to be loved. Now, I’ll do anything to get back to her.
Only Shelby Eubanks isn’t the girl I left behind all those years ago. She’s someone else, a stranger. My Shelby-my little green-eyed firecracker-would never give up her dreams, would never disappear into her mother’s ambitions. But I won’t give up on her. On us. I may be broken, and scarred, and not the man I used to be, but I will do whatever it takes to remind her of the story of us.
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“I love you … Only you. Always you.”
Tara Sivec brings the feels again with The Story of Us, an emotional second chance romance between a soldier and his first love – a young couple that were heartbreakingly torn apart only to be unexpectedly reunited years later, both damaged and scarred. A surprising, dramatic and heartfelt story that is beautifully romantic and left me feeling all fluffy with a big grin on my face.
I’m broken and scarred and half the man I used to be, but if she’ll let me explain, I hope to God she can put me back together again.
Elijah and Shelby met as teenagers. She was the privileged princess, he worked in her family’s stables, she crushed on him, he wasn’t interested. It wasn’t until Shelby returned from college that Eli finally noticed her, and over the course of one blissful summer, the two of them fell into a deep, intense, all-consuming love. They were torn apart when Eli was shipped off on deployment, and lies and betrayal set their lives in completely different paths.
Eli’s deployment ended in tragedy when he was taken prisoner, but everybody back at home was told he was dead. For five years he was held and tortured, and his dreams of Shelby were the only thing that got him through. Now that he’s free, he has one thing on his mind – going home and getting his girl back.
I’ve waited long enough. Shelby is the main reason I’m still here, alive and kicking, and it’s time she knows that. It’s time for me to take back what was always meant to be mine.
I loved Eli. His strength in enduring all that he has, and then his determination to reclaim his life and get his girl back was amazing, and I loved his alphaness in going after what he wanted. But the girl he finds is far from what he expected, and Shelby is now a shadow of the wild girl with big dreams that she used to be. The five years that she spent thinking that Eli was dead, and all that happened to her in that time has left her completely changed, and Eli is determined to bring her back.
“You saved me, Shelby,” I whisper, pressing my forehead against hers. “For five years, you saved me, and you didn’t even know it. Now it’s my turn to save you.”
OMG, this is such a beautiful love story. Heartbreaking, emotional, passionate and full of chemistry, I could feel everything between Eli and Shelby. Their love for each other is evident in every moment between them, but there is more to their separation than either of them knew and their reunion is not an easy one, and things get quite angsty with both of them holding onto secrets. I’ve gotta say, I was frustrated that it took them so long to truly talk to each other, but they do eventually open up and confront the demons of their past and work through the issues that are facing them in the present. And through it all there is a feeling of certainty that they belong together, that they need each other to be able to find peace, be happy and move forward, and I loved watching them fight to find that.
“I can’t leave you alone and I can’t move on because you’re everything to me. You always have been and you always will be, and I know damn well you feel the same, even if you want to stand here, look me right in the fucking eyes, and lie to me.”
“I don’t give a shit if you’re with someone else, he’ll never love you the way I do. He’ll never fight for you the way I do and he’ll never fucking see you the way I do!”
There is some drama as secrets are fully revealed and finally dealt with, and there were some great surprises in the way their story unfolded, which I really enjoyed. And as gorgeous as the love story is, this book is also a journey of two people finding themselves again after enduring heartache, trauma, loss and grief, and that part of the story blended beautifully with the romance.
“I’d rather be a complete mess with you than spend another day shattered all over the floor alone.”
This was a beautifully written story. I loved the characters, I loved the romance, and loved their story – including the glimpses we got into their past together and the way that was woven into the book. This was a surprising read with lots of feels, and I loved it.
An Advanced Reader Copy was generously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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About the Author
Tara Sivec is a USA Today best-selling author, wife, mother, chauffeur, maid, short-order cook, baby-sitter, and sarcasm expert. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children and looks forward to the day when they all three of them become adults and move out.
After working in the brokerage business for fourteen years, Tara decided to pick up a pen and write instead of shoving it in her eye out of boredom. Her novel Seduction and Snacks won first place in the Indie Romance Convention Reader’s Choice Awards 2013 for Best Indie First Book and she was voted as Best Author in the Indie Romance Convention Reader’s Choice Awards for 2014.
In her spare time, Tara loves to dream about all of the baking she’ll do and naps she’ll take when she ever gets spare time.