Review: Lead Me Not (Twisted Love, #1) by A. Meredith Walters

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Review

“You’ll miss out on some amazing things in life if you can’t look past your nose to see the beauty that’s out there in the most unconventional places. And complexity isn’t ugliness. It’s the complication that makes it worth it.”

4 raw, emotional and angsty stars

Wow, what a read! A. Meredith Walters writes wonderfully raw and emotional stories, and she’s done a great job with this one! Taking us into the dark and dirty world that is drug addiction, she has given us an amazing story of love, loss, desperation and pain, and I absolutely devoured it!

Aubrey Duncan has endured the devastating loss of her baby sister to drug addiction which left her completely broken. She has picked herself up and is now in college studying to be an addictions counsellor, desperate to save others from suffering the same fate as her beloved sister. One of the members of her support group is Maxx Demelo, and from the first moment she sees him, there is something about the enigmatic bad boy that fascinates her.

Maxx is a man who is lost. In his efforts to support his younger brother, he started dealing, only to become hooked on his product, and he has been sucked into a dark underworld that he cannot escape from. Plagued by anger and self-loathing he both despises and craves his tablets, thinking he can be free of them but desperate for the peace that they give him as they numb him to the pain in his life.

Aubrey wants to help Maxx, but she definitely feels something more for him, and Maxx is equally as enamoured. Of course, any interaction between Aubrey and Maxx’s is strictly forbidden, but they can’t fight their attraction to each other, and they find themselves powerless to resist the emotion brewing between them.

“Don’t leave me,” he whispered, his words making me shiver.
I covered his hands, which held my face, with mine and stared up into eyes that pleaded with to me to stay. “You scare me,” I told him honestly.
He leaned down and rested his forehead against mine. He took deep, raspy breaths. “I scare myself,” he said.

The emotional connection between these two was beautifully explored. From their initial attraction, to the sweet and tender moments that were so incredibly meaningful to them both as they opened up and got to know each other, and fell for each other despite the hurdles standing in their way.

“Why can’t you just be Maxx Demelo? I kind of like that guy,” I said, cupping my hand behind his neck.
Maxx smirked, a ghost of the smile I was familiar with. “I can be so much more for you. I want to be everything you could ever want.”
… “I just want
you,” I told him, hoping he heard me.
“And I want
you, Aubrey. All of you. Every tiny, perfect part. I want you to belong to me, only to me, so that you’ll never leave. Please don’t leave,” he whispered, a choking plea.
God, how could I deny him anything? He was practically shoving his heart into my hands, insisting that I take it. He wasn’t giving me a choice. And even if I had been given one, I knew the decision I would make. I would hold on to him – his heart, his soul – with everything I had.

“Being with Aubrey made me feel, for one perfect moment, that maybe, just maybe, I could be someone else.”

“You need to know that if you decide to do this with me, I’ll never be able to let you go. Not ever.”

But it’s not that easy. Because with all of that sweetness comes the other side of their relationship – the desperate, chaotic mess that is Maxx and the hell he is living in, and Aubrey’s desperate need to save him.

“They were at war against each other, Aubrey and the drugs. Both had a claim on me. I needed both. But they couldn’t coexist.”

He was slowly being eaten alive. It was like watching a car driving full speed toward a brick wall. The sinking feeling of helplessness I remembered all too well made me momentarily immobile.
I would fail him.
I would lose him…

I am one of the fortunate and sadly rare people that haven’t had drugs and addiction touch my life, or the life of a loved one, so reading this was like having a glimpse into a dark and seedy world that exists outside of my everyday life, and it’s both terrifying heartbreaking! I love how AMW wrote this book from both Aubrey and Maxx’s POVs, so we get to see both sides of the story – Maxx’s hatred and guilt over what he is doing, but his desperation to be free of the pain he lives with every day, and Aubrey’s struggle to love a man who is stuck in a never-ending cycle of destruction.

Both sides of the story were beautifully written, and both were tragic and heartbreaking. They are in an impossible situation, which is only made worse by the forbidden nature of their relationship, and as Aubrey is sucked deeper and deeper into Maxx’s world, she is forced to face her past, and figure out what she wants from her future, and what she is prepared to sacrifice to get it.

My feelings for Maxx were causing me to make decisions I never would have made in the past. I was forgetting about everything that had mattered to me, potentially throwing it all away to save a boy I was pretty sure didn’t want to be saved.
Love made us stupid.
Love made us blind.
Love could incapacitate us and leave us powerless.
And love could also make everything better.
I couldn’t let myself think anything less.

This is an angsty, raw, gritty story with amazingly emotive writing. AMW takes us into a dark and dirty world that is as frustrating as it is heartbreaking, and it’s like watching a train wreck. You’re waiting for the inevitable crash to come, but you can’t stop reading, and just get sucked more and more into the story, feeling everything that the characters are feeling, and desperate for them to find their way through it all but not knowing how they can possibly make that happen.

The book ends with Aubrey and Maxx’s story very much unfinished, but it’s not a desperate cliffhanger. I’m really curious to see where the story is going to go from here, and can’t wait to continue on with the next book.

4 stars.

Note – I listened to this as an audiobook, and the narration by Shayna Thibodeaux and Sebastian York was sensational! I highly recommend listening to this one!

 

Twisted Love

Lead Me Not  Follow Me Back

Lead Me Not (#1)
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Follow Me Back (#2)
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