From the USA Today bestselling author of Inseparable and When Forever Changes comes another emotional, angsty, new adult romance that will rip your heart apart before mending it again.
I’m head over heels in love with my best friend. Although, I can’t pinpoint exactly when Reeve Lancaster became my entire world.
Was it when we were little kids, practically brought up together, after Reeve’s mom died during childbirth and his dad subsequently fell apart? Or when I doodled his name in my school journal at age ten? Maybe it was when we became boyfriend and girlfriend at fourteen or when we shed our virginity at sixteen, pledging our forever?
I was there as his star ascended—like I’d always known it would—and there wasn’t a prouder person on the planet. As the only child of Hollywood’s golden couple, I’ve lived my life in the spotlight enough to know it wasn’t what I wanted for my future. But I sacrificed my own desires, because Reeve’s happiness meant everything to me.
Until he crushed my heart into itty-bitty pieces, forcing me to fly halfway around the world just to escape the gut-wrenching pain.
The opportunity to study at Trinity College Dublin came at the perfect moment, and I jumped at the chance without hesitation. If I’d known fate was meddling in my life, perhaps I would have chosen differently, but my future was cemented the instant I laid eyes on him.
Dillon O’Donoghue was Reeve’s polar opposite in every way, and perhaps, that’s why I felt drawn to him. He was the dark to my light. The thorn in my side, irritating me with his cold disdain, wild recklessness, and a burning rage hidden deep inside him that spoke to a silent part within me. Yet Dillon showed me what it was like to truly live, opening my eyes to endless possibilities.
What happened next was inevitable, and I only have myself to blame. He warned me, and I knew my reprieve was temporary, because there is only so far I can run.
Especially when fate hasn’t finished messing with me yet.
This is a full-length 168K-word second-chance romance novel that is book one of two. It cannot be read as a stand-alone, and it ends on a cliff-hanger. Recommended to readers aged eighteen and older.
I probably wasn’t ready for this one so soon after Inseparable destroyed me, but I’ve read a lot of reviews recommending to read this now, before the second book drops because the first one requires a recovery period. That’s exactly what I was afraid of, and one of the reasons why I was trying to hold off until the release date, but I didn’t make it. This book is pure angst, so much so that it’s painful but the story and characters pulled me in despite my reservations. I generally stick to HEA because if I want to be sad, I’ll read the news. I expected a lot of fast-paced craziness like the Rydeville Elite series, but this was completely different.
This is a love story first and foremost so every aspect of the plot is intricately woven into the relationships between the main characters. There aren’t a bunch of enemies to face, just her own heart and mind.
This is the story of a Hollywood prince, an Irish rock star, and the girl who loved them both. A girl who never wanted the spotlight but found herself thrust into it anyway. This is a story filled with secrets and lies, drenched in heartbreak and pain, but it’s also a lesson in forgiveness and redemption and finding the strength to go on when life seems insurmountable.
Vivien and Reeve won me over immediately. They’ve been best friends and soulmates for their whole live. The love they share seems so pure and they make the sweetest, most adorable couple. It’s not easy growing up in the spotlight, with her movie star parents or his cold, distanced, studio mogul father, but they manage. They both seem like grounded, relatively responsible young people with good heads on their shoulders. Their mothers were best friends and when Reeve’s mom died during his birth, his father withdrew, never warming to his son or being a real parent. Viv’s parents always wanted more children and quasi-adopted Reeve, since his father never had time for him or any desire to make time for the boy.
Reeve’s dream is acting and when his big break happens during senior year of high school, Viv is happy for him, but sad for her. She loved their life exactly as is – spending much of their time together, designing their dream house and planning their future – and she realizes that everything is going to change. Reeve assures her nothing will ever be more important than her, but it’s tough from the very start. Being separated is much harder than she ever expected and they quickly grow apart.
This story tugged at my heartstrings immediately. Viv did everything to support Reeve’s dream and be a pillar for him, but their love wasn’t enough to protect them. He was afraid to make waves and accepted everything the studio threw at him, no matter how unreasonable, including a fake relationship with his scheming co-star. He began treating Viv like garbage — and letting others do so too – because he was young and dumb, listening to his shady agent and the studio’s unethical PR head. His infamous co-star is the worst kind of shallow mean girl who needs all the attention in the world and will stop at nothing to get it. Her favorite pastime is conquests and her favorite target is unavailable men. She wants nothing more than to take him from Viv, even though she doesn’t know him or want him at all. Reeve is soon a mess, struggling to keep it together to finish the film shoot. He and Viv fight all the time because she doesn’t trust his co-star but he’s sick of her warnings and complaints. Reeve accuses her of not supporting him and rails that her insecurities are sabotaging his dream.
Viv is devastated at the changes in her best friend but she sticks it out, probably for much too long, until it becomes evident that the situation is out of control and she needs to save herself. After yet another public humiliation, she vows it’s the last and leaves LA for Ireland. A study abroad opportunity will give her a chance to heal away from Reeve and the paparazzi. Ireland suits her very much and she quickly makes friends, only to find herself instantly attracted to her new Irish BFF’s snarky brother.
Dillon is a gorgeous rocker with a smoky voice and magnetic presence. The last thing Viv wants is a man in her life, especially this annoying ass, but the current arcing between them at all times is undeniable. He seems to hate her on sight, but warms up to her quickly and the lust soon consumes them. Dillon is sweet and considerate in some ways, cruel and almost abusive in others. They have unbelievably hot chemistry but he’s closed off and at times distanced. Viv gives him the benefit of the doubt, assuming some difficult times in his life have made him this way and she’s extremely forgiving. She convinces herself this passionate summer fling is the perfect fix for her heart and mind after Reeve destroyed her. It seems safe because this relationship has an expiration date when she’ll return to LA for the new school year and also because she can’t imagine her heart getting involved. Of course, she was very wrong.
They fall madly in love and Dillon becomes an almost-perfect boyfriend: affectionate and attentive, a passionate and generous lover, and he evens opens up to her but blows everything up with a last-minute tantrum. He gave no indication that he wanted more, but just hours before she’s set to return to California, he demands she stay if she loves him. Viv does love him but she can’t just not get on the plane. After all, school starts soon, Aubrey’s depending on her as a roommate, her family is there and her whole life is in LA. She can’t just not go but she’s willing to consider changing the plan if he wants her to stay. Dillon never gives her a chance to explain, blowing up at her when she doesn’t immediately agree to stay. Instead of letting her answer him properly, he rants that she just used him and is running back to Reeve so they’re done. He spews cruelties at her and abandons her, refusing to acknowledge her before she leaves but to bait her with a groupie as she publicly professes her love for him.
Dillon broke her heart just as much, maybe even more than, Reeve. It was such a whirlwind romance and she’d fallen so hard. Things were the best they’d ever been in her adult life but now suddenly she’s been crushed entirely, all over again. Viv tried to reason with Dillon before she left but he shut her out completely. Things only get more complicated from there and the twist at the end was unexpected. I had a few expectations, but it was nothing like I’d guessed. This book ends on an emotional not with a game-changing cliffhanger and I hate that so much. I’m quite impatient to find out what’s next and wish I’d waited to read this until Let Me Love You is released.
Despite waiting for the conclusion on pins and needles, it’s a great book and an amazing story with fantastic characters. My allegiances change from team Reeve to team Dillon and back. I’ve mostly loved Viv because she’s flawed and human but inherently good and she’s tough, learning to protect herself and heal her wounds with strength and grace. The last few chapters make me reconsider and I wonder how I’ll feel about her once it’s all over. They’ve all made mistakes but they’re young and inexperienced and they’re doing the best with the knowledge and skills they possess. Still, some things might be unforgivable.
Reeve hurt her badly and became toxic for her after he became a star. That made it easy to embrace Dillion at first, even with his flaws, but then he goes on to hurt her every bit as much. It seems like the world is unanimously #TeamDillon so I definitely feel like I’m in the minority here, but I think I’m firmly team Reeve now. I waffled between the two right up until the end, but the last few chapters set my mind. I’m eager to know if Let Me Love You changes my mind. She spent a short time with Dillon and their relationship seemed mostly physical to me, but she has this incredible history with Reeve. They’ve spent a lifetime together already. He did stupid things and didn’t treat her well, but he was young and overwhelmed, insecure and not only lacking guidance but had multiple adults actively manipulating him every step of the way.
Reeve was the next big thing in Hollywood but rather than fame and fortune, it put a target on his back. People were preying on him and he was not in control. He’d developed a serious drug habit and been sexually assaulted by his scheming costar more than once by that point. None of that excuses what he did to Viv but it’s plain that he never meant to hurt her and was every bit as much of a victim as she was. That doesn’t mean she should simply forgive and forget, but rather that it’s okay to even consider forgiveness. In most cases, I couldn’t support a heroine who would forgive this man but the circumstances here are extenuating and then some.
Of course, Dillon’s had trauma in his life and he’s damaged, too. He’s an empathetic characters despite his massive flaws, even more embraceable once we’re privy to the tragedy of his life. But it doesn’t give him the right to act like this. No matter how heartbroken and passionate he is, Dillon is immature and cruel. He manipulated her then intentionally humiliated Viv and there’s no coming back from that in my opinion. I can’t go into more detail without potentially spoiling things so I’ll stop at that but know that for now, I’m #TeamReeve. It will be interesting to see how many times that changes before the second book is over, because I expect the waffling to continue, but maybe there’s another curveball coming to change things. I’ve read the prologue more than once now, trying to discern which man she ended up with and I think I know. The breadcrumbs in the opening scene seem to point one way but when you look below the surface, all isn’t as it seems. I couldn’t put this book down and read it in less than 24 hours so I can hardly stand the suspense. I hate cliffys but maybe this will change my mind and open me up to them in the future. The second book, Let Me Love You, will be released on May 31, which can’t come soon enough.
One aside I must mention: Reeve’s big break is being cast as Camden Marshall in the wildly popular Rydeville Elite movies being made from the best-selling books and I absolutely LOVED that. I wish those movies could actually be made but let’s face it, the movies are never as good as the book and those books in particular have so much going on, there’s no way Hollywood could do them justice.