A mistake made long ago…
Pain buried so deep…
When Bailey Trent returns home to her small little Ozark mountain town after being away for nearly six years, she knows she’ll face the ghosts of her past. It does not mean she’s prepared to come face to face with the cruelest of those memories.
Darren Cory’s life is a shell of what it once was, and when he’s forced to endure the cause of his agony, hatred abounds quickly. But hating Bailey destroys him too.
Can Darren find a way to move past the pain and forgive the woman he once cared so much for before his anger consumes them both? Or will he drag them into the hell of an unforgiven past.
I finished this book last night. I went to write a review this morning and I couldn’t think where to start. I went away, rode on my exercise bike, went and picked up some food for the animals, walked the dog… and now I’m back. And I still don’t know where to start. Lol. Some parts I really loved, some parts I skim read. I guess I’ll take a leaf out of Darren and Bailey’s book and use their little word game…
Painful. Emotional. Steamy. Confusing. Thought provoking. Contrasting. Deep.
4 stars for Bailey and Darren.
Twenty-seven year old, Bailey Trent has been gone from her small town home for six years. A terrible mistake has kept her away and now she has returned to face the ghosts of her past, the judgement of the local community and most scarily of all, the hatred of the only man she has ever loved.
Darren Cory’s hate for Bailey consumes him. He’s bitter, angry and a different man to the one Bailey knew six years ago. He wants Bailey to hurt, he wants her to feel pain like he’s felt, yet he can’t seem to stop just wanting her.
“I want… I want so much to hate you. Do you know what it’s like? Do you have any idea what it’s like to see you, smell you, be near you again, feel your skin? Can you imagine what it is to hate someone so much, and yet…”
After a series of run ins, both Bailey and Darren are forced to realise that they are going to have to deal with one another and their feelings towards each other But can Darren see past his hatred and allow himself to forgive?
“I get it. How do you move past something like this? But wouldn’t it be quite a thing if you could?”
For me, the first part of this book really did drag a bit. I found myself skim reading a lot of it. There was a lot of internal monologue, outlining the characters thoughts and feelings, going around in circles, making the same point multiple times… I also found the writing a little muddled at times. Some of the scenes weren’t all that clear to me and I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be feeling, who’d said what, who’s POV we were reading or what the relevance of some things were. It could also do with a little more editing. Certain words or phrases were overused and repeated a lot, which interrupted the flow of the book.
There is also a lot of emotional back-and-forth in this book. Oh my goodness, the angst and the turmoil and the emotional whiplash. Both of these characters have serious issues to work through, both separately and together, and that makes for one messed up muddle of feelings.
The beginning of the book flicks and back and forth between the present and the past, as Elizabeth Finn drip feeds the reader details of what happened six years ago to leave Bailey and Darren in the state they are currently in. I loved the scenes from the past. Darren and Bailey’s past relationship is super cute, with their secret games, their undeniable attraction to one another and their stolen touches.
“All I wanted was you. I wanted to have you, throw everything else out the window for you. Maybe if I had. Maybe if I’d given in sooner, the fight would have been over.”
BUT, their current ‘relationship’, or I guess ‘interactions’ would be a more appropriate word, drove me insane. Darren is a total asshole in the beginning. Seriously… I know the man has his reasons but he needed a slap. He is cruel and unnecessarily spiteful to Bailey. Like, if you don’t like her, just leave the girl alone!! But make. up. your. freakin’. mind!!! I did feel that he was verging on abusive at times. He’d toy with her emotions, touch her and then leave her hanging… I wasn’t a fan of his treatment of Bailey at all, to begin with.
“Convince me not to hate you because… because hating you is the end of me.”
However, he does redeem himself. You can really, really feel his pain as the story unfolds and you get a deeper insight into Darren’s history. He is a man completely ripped in two, totally at war with himself and you can’t help but begin to feel for him.
“You don’t fall in love with the person responsible for your greatest loss. And God help you if you do.”
Bailey is cool. She owns her mistakes and her guilt. She isn’t annoyingly self-depreciating, yet she accepts that she deserves the punishments she has had to live through and she is now trying to start her life anew.
‘The only thing separating us from that existence rather than the one we find ourselves in is one small decision. I make wrong decisions every day.’
The only thing that wound me up about Bailey was what she let Darren put her through. There were so many times where I’d have kneed him in the balls and told him to go fuck himself… but Bailey just allowed his disrespectful behaviour to continue.
The second half of this book was worlds apart from the first, in my opinion. For starters, Bailey and Darren finally got down and dirty, thank God!! And let me tell you, once they reach that point… pppphhhew! Well, let’s just say that Elizabeth Finn writes some of the hottest, most sensual sex scenes I’ve ever read. I remember feeling the same about the first of Elizabeth’s books I read, Brother’s Keeper and I was getting so frustrated with Bailey and Darren for holding out on me, but I was certainly rewarded for my patience! It is super hot!
“How long’s it been since you’ve been fucked?”
Secondly, the storyline really picked up. The characters started making actual decisions, moving forward with their lives, rather than just bumbling about in limbo trying to decide what they wanted, there was more conflict resolved, some shocking plot twists and then an absolutely adorable, heart wrenching culmination. When Darren and Bailey began to move beyond the demons of their past, it was so touching. This story really was all about forgiveness, letting go and deciding to move forward.
The epilogue was just perfect, too!
“I’m going to marry your brother someday.”
• Steam Rating (out of 5): ♥♥♥♥♥
• Ending: HEA
• Length: 369 pages
• Narrative: Multiple POVs. Third person. Past tense.
• Series: ✗
• Can this be read as a standalone? Yes
• WARNING. This book includes…
Sexual content. Death. An angry male.
• Writing: Fair
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