Eighteen-year-old Devin McKay is a complete and total emotional wreck. Fresh out of high school and on her own for the first time in her life, she’s reeling from rejection of a relationship gone very, very bad. Emotionally battered and tormented by the pull of her narcissistic first love, she wants to make a clean break in a small mountain town where he is everywhere... with his new girlfriend.
Ronin Andrews is still battling his own cataclysmic ghosts. He recoils from anything heartfelt, choosing instead to work hard and live wild. Outside of his job, parties and causal hooks-ups are his life until Devin walks in. With her short skirt and her sad green eyes, he can’t help but want her… badly. His protective streak wants to provide her with a haven, to shelter and sustain her.
Through a flash of torrid intensity, they struggle to be friends... just friends. She relies on him to nourish her shattered soul and shield her heart from the clawing, gnawing loss that has consumed her. Before long, the attraction proves too tenacious, and the passion between them becomes undeniable. But will the shadows of the past prove too much to overcome?
We meet Devin, Ronin and their friends at a party during the summer after Devin (Dev) graduated from high school. They live out in the boonies in a small town in Montana. I totally understand what goes on in towns that small….my graduating class was 27, like Devin’s class that was 28. I was able to identify a lot with the happenings of their small town and pining for your ex. This book definitely hit home and made me feel like I was reading MY story, to a certain degree. I didn’t have a Ronin….but I sure didn’t want to give up my ex, no matter how bad he scarred me. Moving along….
When Devin and Ronin meet at a party…..she is 18 and he is 24. She is trying to drown out her pain for her ex, Jake, by playing drinking games and getting schnockered. She is hung-up on Jake, but seeing Ronin was sure a great deterrent for her. He was definitely HOT.
Good Christ, she thought to herself in an intoxicated daze. He’s a really fucking beautiful man. Broad shoulders and a strong jaw. A smile that had panties dropping all over town. And right now, he was smiling at her.
The age difference and the serious amount of drinking in the story put me off…..especially for an underage girl, but of course, I understand living in the boonies limits the “activities” younger kids engage in. I felt some weird emotions about the age gap….especially since Dev was so young and so immature in her dealings with Ronin and Jake. Jake was an absolute ASSHAT. Having said that, Ronin was sexy as hell and the most caring person, more than Dev deserved, I felt. He had a heart of gold and he was so forgiving…more forgiving than most men would be at that age. He made my heart smile at how caring he was for her….he really took the time to make sure she was cherished and felt it, but she still didn’t get it. They spent many nights lying in bed with each other…..just spooning and sleeping. Him comforting her. He was a pure gentleman.
“You don’t have to explain anything to me,” Ronin said. “I didn’t ask you here so I could judge you. I asked you here so I could comfort you.”
Dev needs to get over her ex, Jake, and she doesn’t know how. We spend the majority of the book with Dev going back and forth between Jake and Ronin, at Ronin’s expense. You see, Jake cheated on Dev with Melanie….and every time Melanie is unavailable, Dev gets to be her replacement. She, for some reason, can’t let go and runs back to Jake every s.i.n.g.l.e. time he comes calling. Jake is an ASSHAT. I’ll repeat that ONE more time…Jake is an ASSHAT. Graduating from high school in a small town, I know that some guys have a bigger head and bigger egos than they should. Jake was no exception. He used Devin for his own pleasures, but made sure he dragged her down first. He ruined her confidence and self-worth. I totally understand that, having been there…..so it was hard to read it and live through it again. This was a really well written side of the story and I was able to feel the lack of self-worth and the feelings of not being deserving from Devin. It was a good pull on my memories and emotions.
Devin was quietly overcome by his words. For a moment, she could only look at him perplexed. “Why do you tell me these things?” she whispered. “I was with Jake for three years, and he never said anything like that to me. He always made me feel like…I don’t know. Like I should be grateful that he wanted me because nobody else would. And you, you’re my friend. Albeit, kind of a weird friend since I don’t really, you know, cuddle much with Amy and Joanie. But sometimes you say things that just take my breath away. And I don’t know how to respond to that.” ~Devin to Ronin after he explains how he sees her in such a loving and very observant way.
Ronin really was her knight in shining armor and really has a soft spot for her. Every time Jake hurt her, Dev came running back to Ronin. He was always there to rescue her. I really did love him, but wanted to shake him at some points. Their friendship encompassed many levels and they spent a lot of time together. I loved his banter and playfulness with Devin while they were out camping. It was refreshing; I smiled and giggled at his attempt to get closer to her and to kiss her. I also enjoyed seeing the growing realization on Devin’s part when she started to ‘feel’ something for Ronin, more than the friends she claimed to only be. The ride in Ronin’s truck, the way it was written, made me feel the emotion growing between them. It was very palpable and you could almost ‘feel’ the spark between them.
There were a couple of times that made me just smile thinking that Ronin and Devin were finally going to move on with their relationship, and when they finally did, the love that poured out of them, the need and want to indulge in each other, was very hot. I liked the feelings between the two of them and really felt the emotion between them. It was raw and primal and very pure. I found myself breathing through some of the emotional scenes, and enjoying the “charge” I got from the anticipation of what was going to happen next.
Fuck sleep. I need you way more than I need sleep,” he murmured as his lips closed over hers with renewed vigor, his hands dancing across her skin.
A huge, ginormous misunderstanding happens one night and Devin leaves with a seriously broken heart….and Ronin is left with chasing her down. I seriously was freaking out at the end thinking they weren’t going to get their HEA. To say that this book hit me emotionally was an understatement. It really hit close to home. It was a quick and easy read, but a tormented one as well.
I rate this 3.5 tormented and emotional stars.
About the Author:
Sibylla Matilde grew up in the mountain valleys of Southwest Montana, and grew up exploring the alfalfa fields on the back of a horse. She attended a two-room schoolhouse 1st through 6th grade where she had same teacher the whole time. Beginning at about age 12, Sibylla discovered historical romance, feeding off of work of Jude Devereaux, Lisa Kleypas, and Karen Robards. She loves a book that can make the reader run the gamut of emotions, from the sweet glow of new love to gut-wrenching heartache. She always has stories floating around in her head, living in some fantasyland until she writes them down to free them. She is a true romantic, a bit of a Pollyanna, and a deeply emotional soul.
Music is her emotional trigger. Growing up with a Wagnarian-opera-loving mother, Sibylla grew up with music that digs deep into her soul and pulls out emotion. The soundtrack to her life includes different genres and generations. She looooooooves Thirty Seconds to Mars (rather obsessively, actually) with a little Kings of Leon to mix things up, and pimps them out regularly to all her friends through Spotify. She also enjoys watching Met Opera HD broadcasts at her local movie theater, and hopes (listening Met?) to someday see Diana Damrau reprise her role as Mozart’s Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte – The Magic Flute.
Sibylla lives with her husband, Mike, a man who she firmly believes saved her from her self-destructive, hot mess self. He makes her laugh every day, even when things seem to be falling apart around them, and has proved to her that love really can heal a shattered soul. In 18 years, they have never had a fight, but argue regularly with their two teenage kids who have, unfortunately, inherited their father’s quick wit (unfortunate as it is a quick wit that Sibylla, herself, definitely does not possess – there is a reason she is a writer and not a stand-up comedian), and live a quiet life with their two weird little rescued Chiweenies. Wait… teenagers and little yap-dogs? Okay, maybe not so quiet. :)