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This is a beautiful, beautiful story. A unique second-chance-romance with an edge of the forbidden, a dramatic story about hope and moving on from the past, and a whole lot of feels. It’s the second book in the True North series, but it can be read as a standalone, and it kept me captivated from start to finish.
Jude Nickel was introduced in the first book of this series, Bittersweet. We met him when he was fresh out of rehab following a three-year jail stint for manslaughter after he drove while under the influence of opiates, and his passenger was killed. His passenger just happened to be the son of the local Police Chief, and the brother of the love of his life. He’s been clean for 6 months now and is working hard to turn his life around, but there is a lot standing in his way. And after spending the summer working on the Shipley farm, he’s headed back to his hometown to work in his father’s garage – the scene of his downfall and the place that is full of memories of the girl he’s never been able to forget.
Of all the things I’d lost – my good name, the chance to get a decent job, my carefully restored car – none of them mattered as much as Sophie.
Sophie’s family completely fell apart after the death of her brother. Her relationship with her father was already shaky because he so vehemently disapproved of her relationship with local troublemaker, Jude, but things deteriorated after the accident. Her father became even more angry and withdrawn from the family, and her mother completely checked out, so Sophie left college to move back home and care for her family. Working to achieve her goals from home she is about to finish her Social Work degree, but she is still full of questions about the night that changed all of their lives.
Jude and Sophie had the kind of love that you dream about. From the age of 16 years old they were each other’s whole worlds. The good girl and the bad boy may have appeared to be complete opposites, but they were soulmates who were planning on being together forever. And then the accident changed everything.
When I was seventeen, I thought Jude was sent to me from heaven. When I was eighteen, I let him take me there. When I was nineteen, he broke both my heart and my family.
From the moment they see each other again though, it is clear that their feelings for each other never went away. They still love each other madly, and their strong attraction draws them to each other again and again, but there are years of secrets, lies, guilt and betrayal between them. They have so much to overcome, and it has to be done in secret because Jude is under scrutiny by the Police force and Sophie can’t be seen to be spending time with the man responsible for her brother’s death. It makes the situation all the more intense, but I was cheering for these two from the very beginning.
The first time I ever kissed Sophie was in a car in the rain. That kiss had made my blood surge with lust and hope. But this one made me ache with impossible longing.
Their love story is just amazing. I could feel it, and I loved the glimpses we got into their past where I felt it for them there as well. Though still very much in love, their situation is a difficult one and it’s not all smooth sailing. It’s both so natural and initially tentative as they feel each other out and figure out where they are at, and I was full of anticipation as I read, waiting for it all to happen. It’s well paced and realistic to the situation, the feels are intense and holy hell it’s hot! And despite everything that is between them and the issues still facing them in the future, I loved the further development of their relationship as they discovered each other all over again.
“You own me. You always have.”
“Even when you’re not perfect, you’re still mine.”
Jude’s journey broke my heart. Yes, he has made mistakes, but he owns them. He knows he did wrong, he knows it’s his fault, and he is working hard to do what he can to atone for the past and move forward. I’m one of the lucky ones who hasn’t had drugs touch my life in any way, but reading about Jude’s battle felt so real. It’s scary and horrifying, and watching him struggle daily with his addiction and with the guilt of all that he did, made me ache for him. It’s written with so much heart and emotion, and I wanted to hug him so badly.
I didn’t want to live like this-full of confusion and guilt all the time, and heartbroken in a hundred different ways at once.
Whatever you call it, there was an ache inside me that I longed to soothe. And I moved through each day a little lost, trying to fill an empty spot in my soul. But it never went away.
And Sophie is just incredible. A strong, independent woman, her capacity for love and forgiveness just floored me. She loyally stood by Jude, loving him despite all that happened and never once hiding her feelings from him, and I loved that about her. She knew her heart and she followed it, and the way she was there for Jude in his recovery was absolutely gorgeous! The one thing I do wish…
“Enough worrying about what we deserve. Let’s appreciate what we have.”
The Shipleys are a part of the story, and I enjoyed the tie-in with them, and I love that Jude is still very much considered to be part of the family.
There are other developments happening in the book which all tie together to create a multi-layered story with a lot of depth, and I thought it was really well done. I was engaged the whole time, and even though parts of the story were predictable, I loved the way it all played out. The story ends beautifully, and through it all, the love story just shines *dreamy sigh*.
I loved this one! And am very much looking forward to continuing on with the series.