(Living Again #1)
Kayley Carson thought she had it all...married to the love of her life, a great job, and a baby on the way. Then one day, her life changes forever when she loses her husband in a tragic accident. No longer sure how to navigate life after her enormous loss, Kayley clings to her newborn baby, her family, and her friends to keep herself living.
When she meets someone that challenges her belief that she's better off alone, she has to decide if she is capable of letting him in after swearing she was never going to love anyone the same way again.
She's not the only one with a painful past. He is struggling with trust issues after a previous relationship went horribly wrong. After a terrible misunderstanding brings out both of their insecurities, will the painful memories of the past keep them both from living again?
Living Again was an emotional read, and that might be an understatement. I spent the whole first part of the book completely shattered. I stayed up late reading and ugly crying and trying not to wake my husband with my body shaking sobs. Lydia probably received more messages than she expected about me being upset. (For example: OMG Lydia, I am crying again! I don’t know if my heart can take anymore.) BUT fear not, LL Collins makes up for all the tears with the rest of the story.
“However long she lived, that entire day would be etched into her mind. The day that her world ended but she somehow had to keep living.”
The story begins in total tragedy. We are introduced first to a very broken Kayley Carson, the female lead in the book. Kayley is faced with unimaginable hardships that no person should ever have to experience. As a newly single mom, not by choice, she finds herself constantly remembering times she spent Alex, her late husband. I found myself falling in love with Alex through all the flashbacks of their great times together even though I knew he wouldn’t be there for her anymore. My heart broke for Kayley more than once. I don’t want to spoil any details but trust me when I say you will need a box of Kleenex to get through the first 20%.
“When he kissed me, I felt like I was in a fairy tale.”
Although I feel like the flashbacks of Kayley and Alex together served an important purpose to the story, I almost felt I grew to love him too much to want her to move on. Maybe that is selfish of me as a reader because their lives seemed so happy in the flashbacks but I just felt that some of the memories did nothing but make me love Alex more. I will say that I completely understood the point of the flashbacks. They were in place to show the readers what life was like before she lost Alex and became a broken woman. I do feel that readers needed to see that to understand Kayley’s hesitation to move on and try to find love again, but in my opinion it was a little overdone.
“We were soul mates and half of my soul got taken away. What am I supposed to do now?”
As I stated earlier, LL Collins doesn’t make you cry the WHOLE time. ENTER Dr. Ben Nichols. Kayley and Ben meet during yet another awful moment in Kayley’s life. When her daughter, Alexis, falls ill, Ben turns out to be the doctor caring for her in the hospital. During their first meeting Kayley barely notices Ben since she’s obviously worried about her daughter’s health. The second time she sees Ben, she notices just how handsome he really is and feels a pull toward him like she’s never felt before.
I think Kayley spends a lot of time trying to convince herself she will never be happy with another man other than Alex.
On the first date that Kayley goes on with Ben, she pretty much pours her heart out to him. For someone that is afraid to love again, I felt like that instant confession of her past seemed a little out of character for Kayley. Trust me, I wanted more than anything for her to open her heart again and be accepting of love but it was so sudden that it caught me off guard. I do understand that she opened up to Ben because she felt an instant connection with him but I thought her guarded heart would have stopped her from telling Ben about her past so quickly.
I quickly forgot about Kayley’s instant confession to Ben as I began to fall in love with him. I really thought it was going to be hard to fall in love with Ben after I fell so hard for Alex in the beginning, but LL did an amazing job of developing Ben’s character and making him easy to love.
“And the way he kissed me…wow. It was like he was a dying man in the desert, and I was the water.”
Not only did Kayley start to fall in love with Ben but so did Alexis. The special bond between Alexis and Ben totally warmed my heart, making me love Ben even more. He always treated Alexis as if she were his own daughter and gave her the fatherly love that she didn’t have before he came into her life.
“Kayley’s little girl just won the other piece of his heart that her mom didn’t take the night before.”
For a little while, it seems as if everything is going to work out flawlessly between Kayley and Ben. But just as Ben starts to piece back together Kayley’s broken soul, his past resurfaces and threatens to drive a wedge between them. Ben and Kayley have to find a way to mend the brokenness between them or risk losing each other for good. There’s nothing wrong with a little angst in a relationship, it wouldn’t seem real without the angst. Will they ever really be able to get over their pasts and be able to love each other whole heartedly?
“We’re all a little broken. We just need the right glue to be put back together again.”
Through the ups and downs in her life, Kayley Carson does get her happily ever after in the end. Now whether or not that HEA ends with Ben Nichols, you’ll just have to pick up a copy and find out for yourself. Happy reading! :)
“You survived. You’ve moved on. And look at you—you’re actually living again.”
***A copy of "Living Again" was provided by author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
About the Author:
LL Collins is a 30-something teacher from Florida who loves to spend her time reading, writing, and spending time in the Florida sun with her family. Her love of writing has found a home in the self-publishing world. Look for her debut novel, Living Again, releasing October 4th to eBook and paperback, and her second novel, Reaching Rachel, in early 2014. LL has been writing since she was old enough to write. Always a story in her head, she finally decided to let the characters out and start writing and try to make her lifelong dreams of becoming an author come true. She has been a teacher for over ten years, a wife for 14, and a mom to two boys, 11 and 9.
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