***I received an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ***
If You Leave, is Madison Hill’s Story, Mila’s sister from If You Stay. Maddy had given up her own dreams, when her parents died, she left her life in New York to return home and take over the running of their restaurant. Maddy is really not happy with her life, she feels there is no enjoyment in it. Running a restaurant was not her dream it was her parents but feels it's her responsibility and what she has to do.
“Some days, I get so pissed off that I gave up my life for this…that I’m confined to a little lakeside town, living someone else’s dream. There are days when it sucks the lifeblood out of me and I feel so much older than I am.” ~ Maddy
I had liked Maddy before and even though I thought she was harsh at times and highly protective of Mila as I read more of her story you could see her heart was in the right place. Maddy is a strong sassy character, but her parent’s volatile relationship has left her with her own demons; she is guarded with her heart, her feelings and afraid to get involved with anyone in case she gets hurt. This starts to change the night she meets Gabriel Vincent a man, who is different, has secrets of his own, someone whom she is drawn to too.
“All I know is Gabriel has that kind of confidence. The kind that turns my stomach inside out. And there's something else about him, too...something intriguing. I don't even know him, but there's something in his eyes, something dark and haunted that draws me to him” ~ Maddy
Gabe is an ex army ranger who has a lot of demons, serving in Afghanistan and seeing and doing the things he had to do has not only left him with nightmares, but with a guilt that is controlling his life. Gabe had all the alpha male qualities that I love. He was particularly protective of his sister Jacey and anyone else that he is close to. He comes across as a strong, but deep down there's a vulnerability about Gabe that made me love him even more.
“I’m not crazy… exactly. The army doctors say I just need time. They call it PTSD. Posttraumatic stress disorder. I call it something else entirely: F***ed up” ~ Gabe
I really enjoy the storyline, it was about redemption and second chances. It was intense, raw and gritty, but a beautiful and heart warming at the same time. I’m not going to say much about as I really want to you to go and read this book, but I will say that it’s not an easy road, Maddy and Gabe have to go through a lot in order to get to a place where their demons, guilt, nightmares and issue are not affecting their everyday lives. I loved the romance, the banter, between these two. The chemistry and connection they had lead to some steamy scenes.
"It's like I'm not whole when I'm not with you.. You're a piece of me. A big piece of me. And when you're gone, I can't function right. I'm only half a person”~Gabe "
“Let's make this work, no matter what. Promise me, Gabe. I know there's shit to work through. But we can do it. Because all that really matters is you and me” ~ Maddy
Loved the secondary characters, It was great to see Mila and Pax again and to see how they are moving on with their lives, they are still very much in love, Pax is Pax loved his sense of humor, and whilst I don't want to give anything away, I will say that they do have a drama of their own, that had me chewing on my nails for a while.
Jacey was frustrating at times, and make some silly choice, which I think were more to do with her own issues and as Courtney Cole’s next book Before We Fall is Jacey’s story I’m looking forward to reading that one, and discovering more about her. A special mention has to go to Gabe’s best friend Brand he is a sweetheart, and I was a fan, he served with Gabe and really understands what he is going through. Courtney I know this is not the first or the last time you will hear his but this man is so worthy of his own book.
“Everyone’s got demons. You and I just happen to share ours. And dude, it's not your fault. And it’s not my fault. We got served a shit sandwich that night. You’ve got to stop blaming yourselves.” ~ Brand
Once again Courtney again has written a book that had me emotionally involved from the very start. Maddy and Gabe pulled me in, and I couldn’t help but get emotionally involved in their story. I have not read a book where the main character is suffering from PTSD, and from what I know about the subject I felt that Courtney wrote a realistic account that didn't sugar coated what a person who is suffering from PTSD goes through. Therefore as it was told from both points I found Gabe’s POV heartbreaking to read at times.
The good news is that there is no cliffhanger, just a lovely epilogue that left me with a big smile on my face. I highly recommend you read this book, with tissues close by and add Before We Fall to your TRB list.
Courtney Cole is a novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could. She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds. She loves chocolate and roller coasters and hates waiting and rude people.
Courtney lives in quiet suburbia, close to Lake Michigan, with her real-life Prince Charming, her ornery kids (there is a small chance that they get their orneriness from their mother) and a small domestic zoo.
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