My first memory was of a slap, hard across the face: the sting on my cheek and the jarring of my bones as I slammed back into my bed. It was my dad who had hit me.I had been four.Most of my memories were much of the same and no one ever saw, no one ever fought to help, no one ever cared.Then we moved.My new neighbor cared, rescued the twelve-year-old I had been from a beating. Always thought I’d suffer the nightmare alone, I was wrong.Mace Donati saved me that day in all the ways a person could be saved.And his daughter, Mia, she became the friend I had always wanted, my conscience when my own faltered, the light that led me home when I had lost my way.The girl who grew into the only woman I would ever love.But when you realize you’re more like your father than the good people who took you in and gave you a home, the only way to return their kindness is to let them go.I let them go, got so far lost in the shadows I couldn’t remember who I was anymore. Mia never gave up on me. She fought for me, kept the light on so I’d find my way back.And when I did, life threw us a curveball. I had to hurt Mia in order to save her.But when my past comes back to haunt me and I almost lose her, I’m ready to fight for her…fight to find a way back into her heart while keeping the demons from my past from finishing what they started.~ Cole Campbell
♥ ♥ ♥ 3.25 STARS ♥ ♥ ♥
As soon as I read the blurb, I knew I needed to read this one. I love the whole “friends to lovers” theme, and the fact that they were just kids when they met and became so much more as adults is what had me diving into this one.
Cole Campbell had been suffering years of abuse at the hand of his father. It came to the point where he thought it would never be good for him. Things changed when they moved into a new town when Cole was twelve years old. One day, when his drunkard father was beating him, he never thought that someone would save him. That is exactly what happened when Mace Donati came into his life with his seven year old daughter Mia.
Mia and her father Mace, practically adopt Cole into their family. This is the first time Cole has ever felt wanted, loved, and cared for. They helped a lost boy find himself and find his way into the light, after so many years in the darkness. Things didn’t always stay good and happy for Cole, and one event led him to be separated from the Donati family for a few years. However, Mace and Mia were always there waiting for him. Cole, thinking he wasn’t good enough, got involved in some bad things and decided to stay away from them. But, the Donati’s are very persistent, they aren’t going to let Cole walk away without a fight.
As soon as the book started my heart broke for Cole. I hated all he had to endure at such a young age, and it maddened me so much that no one ever stepped in earlier when they knew what was happening in his house. I loved seeing him grow and have a wonderful role model like Mace come into his life. Mace was such an amazing father, I loved the connection he shared with Mia. It was just so heartwarming. And seeing Mia and Cole become best friends as kids was so sweet. I loved that their relationship spanned many years.
I very much enjoyed the first third of the book. It kept me very interested, but something happened on the second part. I struggled to keep reading because I became so frustrated. I liked Mia, but that changed a bit during this time. I got that she fell for Cole, but he kept pushing her away and I don’t know how she kept going back. I was becoming fed up with the whole “I want you, but I can’t be with you” thing that kept going on and on and on. It just felt liked it dragged on for me. I didn’t care for Cole’s hot and cold attitude either during this part of the book. I felt like Mia really tried to fight for Cole to be in her life–even if Cole didn’t really deserve it with how he behaved–but, Cole didn’t really fight enough for her. Sure I loved how Cole protected her from a distance and wanted her to remain safe, but something needed to happen sooner. I also could have done without Cole and that woman, just no. About this time is when I could no longer feel a connection between Cole and Mia.
The mystery aspect although quite interesting wasn’t enough for me because I wasn’t getting too much info on it during this middle portion of the book. There were a few clues, and I had a hunch about who was involved which ended up being true. I just needed a little more too keep me interested. The last third of the book really picked up. Everything came out of the box all at once and I kept turning the page to find out more. My guesses were right, so it was great to read how it all happened. I wanted to give major kudos to the author for that last twist. I was not expecting that at all. I was very pleasantly surprised by it and was left with mouth hanging open in shock.
Overall, this book wasn’t perfect but it was still good. There was mystery, angst, and drama. I would have enjoyed it more if it were shorter and it had less of those filler scenes like that woman scene. Nonetheless, a good book.
L.A. Fiore is the author of several books including: Beautifully Damaged, Waiting for the One and A Glimpse of the Dream. She’s also the social secretary for her two children, a tamer of ill-mannered cats, the companion to one awesome dog and married to her best friend. She likes her wine red, her shrimp chilled and her social gatherings small and intimate.