*Loveswept is hosting a Tour Wide Giveaway for a $25 eGift Card of Winner’s Choice Bookseller and Loveswept Tote and Mug.
Lauren Layne’s New Adult novel tells the story of a girl with secrets, a guy with scars, and a love that could save them both… or destroy them.
When Olivia Middleton abandons the glamour of Park Avenue for a remote, coastal town in Maine, everyone assumes she’s being the kind do-gooder she’s always been. But Olivia has a secret: helping an injured war veteran reenter society isn’t about charity—it’s about penance. Only, Olivia’s client isn’t the grateful elderly man she’s expecting. Instead, he’s a brooding twenty-four-year-old who has no intention of being Olivia’s path to redemption . . . and whose smoldering gaze and forbidden touch might be her undoing.
Paul Langdon doesn’t need a mirror to show him he’s no longer the hotshot quarterback he was before the war. He knows he’s ugly—inside and out. He’ll do anything to stay in self-imposed exile, even accept his father’s ultimatum that Paul tolerate the newest caretaker for three months or lose his inheritance. But Paul doesn’t count on the beautiful twenty-two-year-old who makes him long for things that he can never have. And the more she slips past his defenses, the more keeping his distance is impossible.
Now Paul and Olivia have to decide: Will they help each other heal? Or are they forever broken?
“Don’t call me that. I’m your father—show some respect.”
“Mr. Langdon,” I say, bending forward slightly, but keeping the bow small enough to be insulting. “How many?” I ask again. “How many babysitters have to come all the way out here only to scamper away when they find out I don’t need anyone to wipe drool off my face or read me a bedtime story?”
“Damn it, Paul—”
“Ten?” I interrupt. “Fifteen? I mean, you could keep them coming indefinitely, but eventually you’re going to run out of available caregivers, right?”
He continues to rap his knuckle softly against the wood, but he’s no longer glaring at me. He’s looking out the window, where the harbor’s just barely visible through the trees in the late afternoon sunlight.
I know, because when I’m alone, it’s my favorite time of day. Mostly because it means the day’s over. At least until it all begins again. And it always does. Begin again, I mean. No matter how much I may wish otherwise.
What worked for me?
I think Lauren Layne writes NA books best. I do love her adult romance novels, her Stiletto series and Best Mistake series are great reads as well, but I think her talent is in capturing that NA story’s energy.
Olivia and Paul are so alive in terms of characterizations that it was a great journey for me as a reader to watch their story unfold. They’re both in search of penance for their past and they want to earn and deserve forgiveness even if the forgiveness is one which they must first give themselves.
I love the set-up of the two of them living under the same roof not only because all the shenanigans and possibilities that such proximity invariably offers but because the closeness calls for a certain kind of pacing in how emotions change and develop. The proximity also forces Olivia and Paul to own up to their fears, recognize their personal faults that are hindering them from becoming the best versions of themselves that they could be. And of course, this proximity is great for sexual and emotional tension, which Lauren Layne does beautifully here.
I also love that they’re truly imperfect people with flaws of their own, not just characters who are perfect and only think they have flaws. They’re real in that sense. Paul suffers from post-traumatic stress and survivor syndrome and he also has issues accepting the changes in his life and body since his return from his tour of duty in Afghanistan. And so he’s angry, a little bitter, and wants to be left alone. Olivia, on the other hand, is not exactly angry with herself (okay, maybe a little) but she feels like she doesn’t know herself anymore. Because she made the mistake of kissing back her boyfriend’s best friend, who also happens to be one of her best friends, ending up hurting both of them in the process. And that’s not at all like her. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how Lauren Layne would resolve this issue but I have to say that what ends up getting written in the book is something that completely sits well with me. I think Olivia’s realization later on in the book was realistic. It doesn’t absolve her of her mistake and she takes responsibility of it, but I think her path to redemption was also satisfying.
What did not work for me?
I was so ready to give this book a full five stars but a minor plot event took half a star away. I wouldn’t spoil you guys as to which scene this is but I just thought that it was a little out of character and I wasn’t expecting it at all from the character.
My over-all take on it?
This was an emotionally-engaging story. You cannot help but root for Olivia and Paul. Both are ‘broken’ in ways because of what happened in their pasts but I love that as much as it was about letting another person help heal you, it’s also about accepting first and foremost healing from yourself. Definitely another must-read from Lauren Layne.
Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. Yes, these are my honest and personal thoughts on this book.
About the Author:
Lauren Layne graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in political science that she has yet to put to good use. After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Layne moved to New York City, where she now writes full-time. She lives with her husband and their plus-size pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.
Connect with Lauren Layne:
Loveswept is hosting a Tour Wide Giveaway for a $25 eGift Card of Winner’s Choice Bookseller and Loveswept Tote and Mug.