After reading and loving If You Stay, the first book in the Beautifully Broken series, I ended up buying If You Leave the day it launched. But I was really busy with writing and editing at the time, and I had finished the first book recently, so I decided to let it sit.
Then this week I read two books that totally didn't work for me, and I basically went, "That's it. I'm done reading stuff that I'm not sure I'll like. It's time to stack the odds in my favor.". I'm kinda obsessed with reading books that are on my beautiful new Kindle, so when I noticed If You Leave there it seemed like just the thing. I was still in the mood for something contemporary and romantic, even though the other book I'd just finished in the genre didn't end up being my cup of tea.
So...did I prejudge If You Leave? Were my hopes fulfilled or totally dashed? Read on and find out!
(Summary from GoodReads)
26-year old Gabriel Vincent is a badass hero. Or he used to be, anyway. As an ex-Army Ranger, Gabe never thought he needed anyone. But after one horrible night in Afghanistan scars him in a way that he can't get past, he needs someone who can help him heal...even if he doesn't realize it.
25-year old Madison Hill doesn't need anybody...or so she thinks. She grew up watching her parents' messed-up abusive relationship and she knows there's no way in hell that she's ever letting that happen to her.
They don't know it in the beginning, but Gabriel and Madison will soon develop a weakness: Each other.
But Gabriel's got a secret, a hidden monster that he's afraid Maddy could never overcome... And Maddy's got issues that she's afraid Gabe will never understand. They quickly realize that they need each other to be whole, but at the same time they know that they've got demons to fight.
And the problem with demons is that they never die quietly.
I really loved If You Stay. And if you'd like a quick verdict without all the technical details for this book, let me say this: I loved If You Leave even more.
Everything that was great about If You Stay is back: a kickass, albeit broken, hero; a likable heroine; a terrific supporting cast; zippy writing (with especially great, funny and honest / real dialog) that keeps those pages turning. If you liked If You Stay, you will likely enjoy If You Leave.
The connection and chemistry between Madison and Gabriel is hot, instant and undeniable. Yet the emotional impact these two will have on each other has a delicious slow burn and by the time they actually get to do anything real with the attraction they show in the beginning, you'll pretty much be begging them. And the wait totally pays off. A lot of times I feel that people might misunderstand my view regarding sex scenes in novels and think I just don't like them. That's not true. I like well written scenes that move the characters--and their story--forward. And again, just like she did in If You Stay, Courtney Cole beyond delivers.
But wait. It gets better...
...Every criticism I had against the first book in this series has been addressed and (mostly) dealt with. Unlike Mila, Madison has a real spine and has problems of her own which are actually addressed in the story. The habit I noticed Courtney Cole had of summarizing things that might need more detail only cropped up once, and in all fairness it was information the reader already knew.
In parting, my one request would be this: I want to know what happens to Brand. I really, really, like Brand. <3
As far as I'm concerned, If You Leave is a must read, and it secures Courtney Cole as an auto buy author for me. On top of all the good things I said above, I will also add that Gabriel is one of, if not my favorite, contemporary heroes ever. I don't think I can give much higher praise than that. If you haven't checked out the Beautifully Broken series yet, and you like contemporary or NA, I would highly recommend that you do.