Title: If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1) [Goodreads][Amazon]
Author: Courtney Cole
Publisher: Lakehouse Press
Release Date: February 5, 2013
In My Opinion: Must. Read. NOW!
One Line: A truly gripping story that pulls you in right from the unforgettable start and won’t let you go until the amazing end.
About the Book: 24-year old Pax Tate is an asshole.
He’s a tattooed, rock-hard bad-boy with a bad attitude to match.
But he’s got his reasons.
His mother died when Pax was seven, leaving a hole in his heart filled with guilt although he doesn’t understand why. What he does know is that he and his dad are left alone and with more issues than they can count.
As Pax grew up, he tried to be the kid his father always wanted; the perfect golden boy, but it didn’t work. His dad couldn’t overcome his grief long enough to notice and Pax couldn’t keep up the impossible perfect façade.
So he slipped far, far from it.
Now, he uses drugs and women to cope with the ugliness, the black void that he doesn’t want to deal with. If he pretends that the emptiness isn’t there, then it isn’t, right?
And it’s never more apparent than when he meets Mila.
Sweet, beautiful Mila Hill is the fresh air to his hardened frown, the beauty to his ugly heart. He doesn’t know how to not hurt her, but he quickly realizes that he’s got to figure it out because he needs her to breathe.
When memories of his mother’s death resurface from where he’s repressed them for so long, Mila is there to catch him when the guilt starts making sense. Mila is the one…the one who can save him from his broken troubled heart; from his issues, from the emptiness.
But only if he can stop being an asshole long enough to allow it.
He knows that. And he’s working on it.
But is that enough to make her stay?
I already loved Courtney and her writing from her sweet and romantic Paradise Diaries series, but after reading If You Stay, I can honestly say that Courtney is a versatile writer that I will easily read anything from. If You Stay is one of those raw, emotional, gritty stories that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. Courtney draws you in with a killer first chapter and rocks your world until the very end. I couldn’t put it down.
Sure this is a story of a great romance, but it’s also so much more than that and I love it when that happens. Courtney does an excellent job at creating an endearing and sweet romance that doesn’t overshadow the story as a whole. Usually there is a bad boy, but most novels tend to focus on the girl and her problems overtake the book, so you don’t get a very damaged guy. Here, Pax had a truly terrible past that shaped the person he becomes and through his love for Mila, a relatively good girl looking for safety and stability, he learns to address his issues, confront his past, and determine whether he can be the man she needs.
What I loved most about this was how real it was. There are a number of people, I’m sure, who use drugs and alcohol as a tool to help them get away from reality and to avoid any true emotions and thoughts. The transition Pax undergoes to get away from all those things and the people, was so interesting and kept me glued to the pages. Courtney really pulled on my emotions with Pax and the pain he was dealing with, or not dealing with, and when I found out the truth about his past, I was blown away at the seriousness and tragedy of it all.
The fact that Pax was so willing to change and get better for Mila, and for himself eventually, was what really made me love him. He’s also charming and sweet, when he wants to be, and sure knows how to please a woman and how her a good time, I’ll give him that! I loved how they first met and the way their romance progressed. Mila was a great character, too. They definitely had a lot of fun, cute times together and I loved seeing them fall in love.
If You Stay is one of those novels you don’t want to miss out on. The romance was sweet, the smexy scenes were truly steamy, and the plot was riveting. This definitely isn’t a light and funny romance, but I think that’s a good thing. There’s so much emotion and realism in this that I found it refreshing and original. I seriously flew through this book and loved every minute of it.