I wasn’t always in love with Colton Calloway; I was in love with his younger brother, Kyle, first. Kyle was my first one true love, my first in every way.
Then, one stormy August night, he died, and the person I was died with him.
Colton didn’t teach me how to live. He didn’t heal the pain. He didn’t make it okay. He taught me how to hurt, how to not be okay, and, eventually, how to let go.
4.5 Stars Reviewed by Jenny and Gitte
Jenny: From the very first page every word was special, every sentence left me anxious for what was to come and I think I read this book with a continuous knot in my stomach the whole time. This story never let me catch my breath and I savored every word. I loved every minute!
Nothing I had heard about this book could prepare me for the emotion and intensity I was going to feel from this story. It gripped me, it held me, it moved me, it never let me go and at times it devastated me.
Nell and Kyle have known each other since childhood and it was always assumed these two were made for each other, and they were. Theirs is the sweetest romance you could experience. I was completely enamored with these two. Nell and Kyle, two 16 year old who will steal your heart. To witness this beautiful first love develop was pure joy. You really do feel all the wonderful emotions of first love in this don’t you Gitte?
“….and now we’re learning how to fall in love together. I don’t care what anyone else says”. Kyle
Gitte: As soon as I read the first words I knew this was going to be an emotional ride. I had chills and I was just waiting for the inevitable that was going to make me cry. I have to say that despite it coming so early on in the book, that despondent and morose feeling never left me as this Author wrenched one tear out of me after the next. My heart hurt throughout the whole emotional story. It never let up with its intensity and every word had an impact as Nell tries to come to terms with the tragedy that rocked her very being into loss…slipping into a catatonic emptiness. Every sliver of memory is a sharp and deep cut into her soul, a cut that never heals.
“Wake up….Wake up” – Nell
“I don’t want it to get easier…Because if it gets easier…I’ll forget him.” – Nell
The sweetness with which it starts is adorable, I agree Jenny, the first love between Nell and Kyle, their progression from friends to lovers; deemed soul mates from the beginning…..then the rug is pulled from beneath the readers feet….
“….I’ll always love you, no matter what happens with us in the future. I love you now and forever.” – Kyle
Jenny: Yes Gitte, the reader really does experience every heart shattering second of the horrific moment when Nell’s life is changed forever. Kyle’s passing positively destroyed me. I was so invested in these two characters and their beautiful love story that this change in direction broke my heart and the circumstances in which it happened numbed me.
Such was my absolute devotion to this pair that I wondered how I was going to cope, how was I going to accept Nell moving on in life to love another. How could I accept Colton after feeling such dire loss over Kyle? I wasn’t sure I was ready for it, but I steeled myself to take this step with Nell.
The author did such a splendid job weaving this story and moving us forward. I loved Colton from the moment he walked onto the pages. I truly can’t say enough how much I loved this man who had endured so much. He was the salve to Nell’s broken heart. I knew I wanted Nell and Colton to work through their issues, they both had so much baggage it was going to take something special in each of them and they were going to have to dig deep to make this work, but these two people were certainly special. It got to the point I where I physically ached for Nell and Colton to find happiness, with every fibre of my being I willed them to succeed.
“You know the story.” “Not all of it. Not the deep stuff, the shit that comes from beneath, in the shadows of your heart” Nell
Nell is coping. Just. She isn’t living, she’s existing as best she can and it’s not good. She hasn’t allowed herself to grieve; she certainly hasn’t healed and is weighed down with so much guilt it consumes her.
“I can’t fix her. I know this too. I’m not going to try” Colton
Tortured, beautiful, soulful Colton with the searing sapphire blue eyes, living with his own share of pain and despair who is dealing with his own past demons yet is so intuitive to Nell’s needs, even at times forgoing his own feelings and loss for the sake of her. He knew when to push through her walls and when to hold back. He tried so hard to help her, love her, be there for her whilst at the same time trying to guard own his fragile heart.
“He doesn’t fix me, doesn’t heal me, just makes life worthwhile. He helps me remember to breathe, shows me how to smile again. He kisses me, and I forget pain.” Nell
Gitte: Nell went through the ultimate loss you can experience in life. The loss of a loved one from which there is no escape; the heartbreak overwhelming, the pain so extreme that Nell becomes immune to it because she just cannot let it go. The numbness and the repressed emotions trapped in the shell that she has become. Nell doesn’t know or dare to let herself feel what’s trapped inside. Instead she craves the superficial pain.
Nell broke my heart. The guilt she undoubtedly suffered from, the inability to grieve, the necessity to combat the numbness of the perpetual pain with creating new pain, finding another outlet to feel alive through self-inflicted pain. I had no idea how this beautiful girl could possibly heal and forgive herself and accept what was.
Enter Colton, Kyle’s brother. Colton shot straight into the top book boyfriends. He is broken but he is a hero, a survivor and a saviour.
The latter part of this story is quite dark and very raw, it gives you pain and it makes you cry. Colton is a force to be reckoned with no doubt. This man has been through so much through no fault of his own, rather through the short-sightedness of the people who should love and protect him the most. Colton is gorgeous and has so many layers and so much depth; all he wants is to bring Nell’s pain to the surface and heal her. His huge heart and respect for Nell, he never asks for anything back, rather he tries to guard both her heart and his own through perseverance and fierce protection.
“You’re a lot of things Nell Hawthorne. You’re complex. You’re cute. You’re lovely. You’re funny. You’re strong. You’re beautiful. You’re tortured. You’re hurting. You’re amazing. You’re talented. You’re sexy as fuck.” – Colton
“I hold her. I don’t tell her its okay.”…. “Get mad I say. Be hurt. Be broken. Cry” – Colton
This Author wrote two unquestionably striking and broken characters who both immediately had a piece of my heart. The chemistry between them was intense and beautiful. The atmosphere around them was dark, raw and heartbreaking. The notion that as one life ends a new one can indeed begin without marring the memory of the first.
“…if we want to live, to not be half-ghosts ourselves, stuck loving the memory of someone who’s gone, then we have to try…We understand each other Nelly. We’ve both lost someone we love. We both have scars and regrets and anger. We can so this together” – Colton
So yes, I truly loved this story and the characters; I just wish the ending hadn’t been so abrupt, I felt that I needed a firmer confirmation that Nell and Colton really were going to be okay. My heart needed more.
Jenny: The chemistry between Colton and Nell absolutely sizzled and yes the sex is extremely hot, but it was so much deeper than that. These two had a love and desire which was on another plane. You felt it. You felt the despair, the passion, the grief and you most certainly felt their pain. There were so many obstacles and so much suffering for these two to push through that your heart literally breaks for them. My tears certainly flowed many a time for these two and the torment they faced. These two broken souls who had the ability to make each other whole deserved so much, their journey was as heartbreaking as it was beautiful and you couldn’t help but hope they would work through their heartache.
“And her. Nell. I could write a song, and her name would be the music. I could sing, strum a guitar, and her body would be the melody” Colton
I loved this moving, heartbreaking yet hopeful story about pushing forward and letting go, yet still holding onto memories that mean so much. Of finding that one person who can touch you, who can be a balm to your injured soul with a mere touch, word or look and who can love you beyond reason.
“I want this”. I say it as loud as I can, which is a breathless gasp, at most. “I need this” Nell
As you can tell I absolutely loved this book, I know one thing for sure, I wasn’t ready to read “the end” – I so wanted more. The only reason this wasn’t a 5 star read for me was because music is a huge part of my life. A song has the ability to transport me to a time and place. There was a song used in this book which is synonymous with another book I love, the use of that song caused me to momentarily leave this story and go elsewhere, but it was fleeting and I was soon back on track.
I miss Colton and Nell already, two wonderful characters who will nestle deep into your heart just as they did mine.
“I’m not falling in love with you, Nell. I’m falling into you.