Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
Gitte: So wow Jenny, I did not expect anything remotely close to what this story turned out to be did you? I mean it was downright horrific, gritty and raw, emotional and gut wrenching whilst full of hope, human perseverance, strength and above all the love of the soul mate variety!
Jenny: You’re so right G. The story that developed was unlike anything I expected. This book literally drew me in from the first sentence! Talk about gritty! I was entrenched in this story from the first page. Yes, it was extremely uncomfortable, and I do mean uncomfortable, reading at times and it certainly had my heart racing, melting and twisting all at the same time. It had all the elements we love in a story, and all delivered in such a unique way.
Gitte: We meet Jay first who is the lead singer of The Burn. My heart bled for this guy. Jay is so tormented by his past it rules his actions in the present. This gorgeous haunted man is separated from enjoying what life can offer him. Instead he lives in his music, singing in the shadows repulsed by touch and attention; seeking release and relief from his demons. Seeking love and affection.
“Sometimes, he would imagine what being loved felt like….Was it warm and soothing? Powerful and protective? In his twenty-four years, he had never experienced closeness with another.”
He meets Charlee after making a snap decision and their journey begins as the reader gets carried away on one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride.
“Fuck him but he’d found a beacon of salvation in this gorgeous girl. And lost his goddamned mind.”
“Perhaps she was the missing element of his soul?”
I seriously fell in love with Jay as this story unfolded. He’s being eaten from the inside out by the demon from his past. His voice lyrically burrowed into my heart where it’ll stay, no question. His love and persistence to be with and understand Charlee, even his efforts to give his soul mate everything she craved. Well it was beautiful and emotional. You loved him too didn’t you Jenny?!
Jenny: Sure did G. I fell completely for this enigmatic tortured soul who finds solace in drugs to numb his pain. What a wonderfully poetic and fascinating character he was. Jay, with all his demons, who, tragically, possessed so much self loathing, yet such beauty, completely stole my heart.
“She wanted to learn more about him, wanted to nestle deep inside and unearth the man who seemed all too familiar with pain. Real pain.”
As his past was revealed and his horrors exposed, I ached for this man who, as you say, lived in the shadows, frightened and revolted by a mere touch. Jay truly was a remarkably written character.
“You build me up and turn me inside out. I’ve never felt so defenceless and yet….so daring at the same time”
There was so much depth to this man and in Charlee he found a piece of his soul. This woman was his light, his muse, his everything and their journey was one that had me completely captivated, addicted and horrified in equal measures.
“I don’t just want to be where you need me.” His tone was deep, sharp. “I want to be what you need.”
Gitte: Now, Charlee’s a mystery, she instantly comes across as very self-assured which is a-bloody-stounding all things considered. It’s not long though before we learn the true horror of who Charlee really is and the horror of abuse she has lived for years.
“She narrowed all thoughts on building her armor. She’d created the mental barrier at sixteen, and over the two years that followed she thickened her skin with it, layer after layer, training her subconscious to unleash it.”
This girl’s story broke my heart into small pieces. The horror of it, wow, yet she displayed such amazing strength and had such courage in her convictions.
As soon as we met Charlee I knew that this girl was something else, her story was sickening and soul destroying yet she fought with every bit of strength her captor was unable to beat and force out of her. Without doubt she’s one of my favourite heroines in a long time. Do you feel the same Jenny?
Jenny: Gitte, after spending time with Charlee, I seriously want kiss this author for giving us one of the most impressive and inspiring heroines I’ve met in quite a while.
“Even face down, Charlee made a picture that inspired men to fight, live, and write music”
After quite a few DNF’s due to annoying or unrelatable heroines, I have to say that not only was Charlee Jay’s saviour, she was also mine. To witness, experience and feel Charlee’s shocking journey and live through her unbearable treatment and humiliation nearly broke me, but Charlee would not allow it to break or define her. This tenacious, beautiful woman showed so much strength, so much determination and a bloody lot of heart. How she communicated with Jay, how she sought to heal him and how she was so resilient and open to him and his issues was remarkable. I admired this woman unquestionably.
“Yes! – she told herself that he was every bit as fucked up as she was. “
Gitte: In some respects I think this story was mostly Charlee’s journey. The abuse, the hurt and pain and the continuous quest for her freedom and finding her soul mate, a memory of a one night encounter keeping her sane through her depths of despair. The way she ‘handles’ Jay, I’d almost go as far as to say Charlee is Jay’s saviour as he is hers.
“One of these day’s Jay Mayard, you will wear those scars with pride.” – Charlee
“If you stay close to me Charlee, my faith will stay close, too.” – Jay
This story is very hard to read at times, it’s ugly and the baddie, well Roy is right there at the top of book villains! One word comes to mind, obsession, at all costs, be it with cruelty and force. You’ll want to make a pin cushion out of him.
“Happiness is fleeting. An unquantifiable nonentity. Her real needs were met by my hand. She simply couldn’t live without me.” – Roy
However, beauty can come out of pain and Jay and Charlee’s story certainly is a fitting example of this. These two were meant for each other, their souls recognised the other. Survivors of abuse, with the scars to prove it.
“I love your scars. They inspire me. I’ve never met another person who has experienced pain like–“
“She’d created the epitome of beauty and strength in pain. And yes, it fucking celebrated the freedom in survival.”
There wasn’t a single character in this story that didn’t play an important part, I loved them all, well except Roy and his Craig’s!! Everyone else brought humour, suspense and intrigue.
One of my favourite scenes in this story was strangely enough the emotion that bled off the pages involving Charlee, Jay and his band mates when they make a shocking discovery of the sheer magnitude of the effect Charlee has on Jay. What she has enabled him to do…to feel. I read this scene through tears!
Now, so why not a five star? Well, I had one issue with this story and that was the length. I felt there was a lot of repetition and parts were unnecessarily over written. I had to catch myself from skimming, which in the case of this emotionally and beautifully written story would be devastatingly unjust. Despite this though I kind of want to give this Author a standing ovation for writing one of the most unique and refreshing stories I have read so far this year! Be prepared for one hell of a scary, horrible, nerve-wracking yet intensely beautiful ride!
“She was his greatest possibility. His reason. His why. He would give whatever she needed to be whole and happy, because loving her was as essential as drawing air.” – Jay
How did you feel about their journey and not forgetting Roy (grrrrrr….) Jenny?
Jenny: My feelings were all over the place in Beneath The Burn. It was an intense, suspenseful, gritty, powerful, emotional, erotic and evocative read. This story, about two unlikely saviours bringing salvation to one another was an addictive, heart pounding read.
“Love is like a series of improbable, lonely notes landing together in meaning chaos.”
Charlee’s story especially brought me to my knees. I loved her, I felt her and I suffered with her because this author wrote a character that was so warm and relatable. We get to experience Charlee’s suffering first hand, and as a result we are taken through the intensity of her feelings as she faced unimaginable horrors and it was testament to her character that she survived at all.
“It was funny how a passing of time could rip you apart, and all it took was one freeing moment to solder the pieces back together.”
As for Roy!! Don’t get me started. He was one of the most disgustingly evil villains I have met. Pin cushion? I wanted to rip off his testicles and shove them down his throat. I despised the man and I was sickened by his cruelty and the power he wielded.
My reasons are the same as yours Gitte in respect of my rating for Beneath The Burn, and I also have to add that there were some minor inconsistencies in the story, but they these were minor and did not impact on my overall feelings for this story.
Beneath The Burn tore me apart and moved me implicitly, it lifted me to dizzying heights and plummeted me to the pits of despair and all from the very first page and with my heart in my mouth. Jay and Charlee will forever have a place in my heart. These two extremely flawed characters who showed bravery beyond anything even they themselves thought they were capable of, left me breathless.
“I don’t know what you’re doing to me, Charlee, but whatever it is melts everything else away.”
Gitte: 4.5 Stars
Jenny: 4.5 Stars
ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review.