Warning: This book is for mature audience only due to sex, language and violence.
“I can’t take it! I’ve been craving you ever since I saw you the other day. I haven’t stopped thinking about you since you disappeared ten years ago! I need you Steph. I’m sorry…” -Eric Sutherland
Stephanie Wilcox never saw it coming after giving up that life ten years ago of constantly being verbally and emotionally abused by her drunken father. She didn’t run, but when she left, she never looked back. Forced by her abusive father to live with her Aunt Elizabeth, she had to leave behind the one person that had shown her true love. In her mind, Eric Sutherland, deserved so much more and being with her would only bring him down. She never stopped loving the sun-kissed boy who held her hand and touched her kindly.
It was years later when Stephanie met Travis Barnes, a young self-made billionaire who swooped in and helped mend some of her loneliness. However, after marrying Travis, he began to show who he really was and he was the type of man she was accustomed to, after growing up with an abusive father, and regardless of his flaws she still loves him. After all, why would she deserve any better?
Eric broke, his kindness, his pure heart, it all fell apart that day Stephanie left. He did all he could to reach her, but it was hopeless. All the sadness, anger, and sorrow built up inside him over time and no one could replace the love he had for Stephanie. Fighting has been his outlet and now as a well-known UFC undefeated fighter, his career is all he has, but no matter how hard he tries to forget her, he can’t.
Ten years later he comes face to face with those large brown eyes that belong to the one girl he’s always loved and everything changes. This time he won’t let her get away.
You know that moment when you finish reading a book and let out a breath that you didn’t really even know you were holding? This is that kind of a book. I found myself finding it hard to breathe until it was over. It was not only an adrenaline rush of a read but something that is hard to wrap your head around. I think my head may have actually been spinning with this one and I am just now finding the air in my lungs again.
This may take a lot for me to describe because it is so not what I was anticipating. First, let me start by saying that Stephanie is so emotionally broken, I am not sure she really knows what love is. She grew up in an abusive household and I think it was just as emotionally abusive as physically. It is a lot to stomach just thinking of that. But then when she finally leaves that situation and is on her own, she marries a man that she adores.
Travis is successful and driven. But he doesn’t want that same drive or success for his wife. She is there for one purpose. That purpose is determined only by Travis and can be changed at any given moment based on his day, mood or alcohol consumption. But Stephanie doesn’t know any different. When they first were married, everything was just as it should have been. He was thoughtful and attentive. But it seems the longer they stayed married; he became what every woman hopes she never ends up with. Controlling, mean, abusive and just ugly. Travis may be a pretty face, but he does not have a pretty soul.
Stephanie’s only escape from her home is a trip to the market every now and then and one day while enjoying her bit of freedom something happens. She is brought face to face with the one man who has only ever shown her love and attention. The one man who loved her unconditionally and with no strings attached. But it was also many years ago that Stephanie walked away from Eric when her dad shipped her off to live with her aunt. It was many years ago when Stephanie knew that she had to let him go because he deserved so much more than she would ever be.
But now, after all this time… something sparks, something clicks in Stephanie’s head. She knows now that not only wants more from her life, but maybe just maybe, she deserves it… but the best laid plans… you know how the story goes…
Can Eric bring Stephanie to a new place of love and can she finally escape the tormented life she has led? Can she truly trust him after all of these years apart? And can she walk away from the only relationship she has known since they departed all those years earlier?
This book was agonizing. I found myself forcing myself to breath and just when things start getting to a good place for the broken Stephanie, everything switches gears and changes so drastically. This book was emotionally draining and then when you hit the happy for now at the end, I have to admit, I cringed.
Though Stephanie was so completely broken and knows so much abuse in her life, I found so much strength in her character. I wasn’t cheering for the guy in this book, but for her. That’s not to say that there isn’t the hot guy in the book. He basically comes in just like a fairy tale. He’s just plain pretty… inside and out. But in the end, I wanted Stephanie to succeed… I wanted her to break free from the chains of her past and learn to live for herself.
This is a well written book with a dark, dark edge to it. It’s kind of hard to admit that I liked the book when it was filled with so much darkness. So to say I enjoyed it is not something I can do because of the subject matter, it’s the same dilemma on Facebook, you support a post, but hitting the “like” button is nearly the same thing as enforcing the negative or depressing though, some things are just better left un-clicked. But I can say I didn’t put it down. I had to make sure that Stephanie was safe as much as Eric. So though it is hard for me to call it a “good” book or even a “great” book just doesn’t seem fitting.
It is just a heavy topic and “liking” it just seems to reinforce the negative behavior in the book… you kind of get where I am going with this right? It is definitely worth every star it got even though I can’t find the right adjective to do it justice.
~ Eric Sutherland and Stephanie Wilcox encounter each other again after ten years ~
As I push through the crowded sidewalks I come to a tent that has a table filled with what looks like a variety of candies. It’s not often I get to eat sweets so I take advantage of this moment. I step up to the white clothed table and peer at the caramel sweets that are in front of me. I look up to see a larger lady with blonde hair that’s tightly pulled back.
“Is this caramel?”
“Yes. It’s our specialty,” the woman replies smiling.
“Can I get two pieces?”
“Of course. That will be $2.50.”
I pull my money from my purse as the lady grabs the two small squares placing them in a napkin and handing them to me. As I turn around placing one of the small bites in my mouth the flavor explodes and I close my eyes savoring it. The caramel is smooth and melts on my tongue. I start walking and place the second piece in my mouth enjoying every bit of flavor. Stopping at a water fountain nearby I bend down taking a sip of the ice cold liquid.
I hear a deep voice call from behind me and I turn, wiping the water from my mouth as I look into a pair of brilliant green eyes and I blink a few times unsure if what I’m seeing is real; the man from my past standing right in front of me.
“Stephanie Wilcox?” the man asks again and I almost choke on my own spit as I’m barely able to respond, still in shock.
“Eric? Yeah! I mean it’s Stephanie Barnes now.” Right as it comes out of my mouth I want to take it back. Eric Sutherland’s standing right in front of me. Do I want him to know I’m married? What the hell is he doing here?
“Well, Mrs. Barnes. You look incredible! It’s been so long.” He looks down at me and then almost like old times wraps his arms around me pulling me in for a hug and I take in the smell of his cologne and the feel of my cheek against his hard chest. He’s taller and broader then when we were kids. Still in shock I have no idea what to say, I hug him back and smile. But too quickly the smile leaves me and I’m faced with real life. There is no point in getting all excited about seeing him.
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ABOUT N.L. ECHEVERRIA
There are many versions of ME. I’m a wife of an amazingly supportive husband, a mother of three beautiful boys that inspire me every day, a friend, a dedicated worker always looking to succeed, an author with characters and stories always on my mind and then there is Me. The woman that loves to stay up late and sleep in, takes ten minutes every morning before the kids are up to sit and have a quiet cup of coffee. The woman that loves staying up late with a good book and getting lost in the words. Enjoying a glass of wine with dinner to wind down from my long days. A person who is still a girl at heart, loving to smile, laugh and have fun whenever the opportunity arises. My favorite place is still the beach because nothing is more peaceful then listening to the sounds of the ocean against the shore. This is all a part of who I am and I LOVE being me!
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