I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.If You Leave by Courtney Cole
Series: Beautifully Broken #2
Published by Forever, Hachette, Hachette Audio on 2014-07-29
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings
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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’ve really enjoyed reading series where each book focuses on secondary characters from a previous book, letting you get to know them so much more intimately and allowing you to get their whole story. You can just join the series without having read the rest and you won’t be lost too. The Beautifully Broken series does just that, and the second book focuses hones in on Madison Hill, the older sister of the female main character from the first book If You Stay. A new set of characters are introduced in the form of Gabriel and his sister who works at the restaurant that Madison owns. Throw in several of the characters from the first book that I was eager to catch up with, and I dug right into this book.
Courtney Cole writes such attention grabbing and tension filled opening scenes, and the one in which Madison and Gabriel meet in If You Leave is no exception. From their first, steamy encounter outside of a bar in Chicago to the taxi accident where Madison knows that there isn’t something quite right about Gabriel, there lives are entwined with each others in more ways than they ever thought they would be. But with Gabriel’s lingering issues from his active military duty in Afghanistan and Madison’s own issues stemming from her parents’ rocky marriage and early deaths, can a relationship actual work between them?
Madison is level headed, dedicated to her work, and a loyal sister and friend, but she has little time to herself since she’s running the restaurant that her parents’ owned before they died in a car crash. She gave her budding modeling career and life in New York City up to return to Michigan to take over the business and take care of her younger sister. Dating hasn’t been a priority since she’s been back and she’s a bit scared to be all in with someone if it will just end up unhappy. She definitely has a bit of baggage when it comes to emotional abuse.
Gabriel is dealing with PTSD and night terrors after he’s returned from Afghanistan after an incident, where’s he’s reluctantly given up being an Army Ranger and started a company with his veteran buddy Gabe making body armor. He copes by drinking and losing himself in women, but he always sleeps alone because he acts out his nightmares. While Gabe doesn’t like being called a hero, he’s the first one to come to his sister’s rescue and support her in any way that he can. But he unexpectedly falls for Madison and does she for him, and they are both reeling from the unknown expectations and feelings they’re encountering.
I give If You Stay a 4.5 out of 5. This installment was less of a self-destructive angst-fest than the first one, and the characters are a little older and a bit more mature. There’s a lot of pain and loss in this book, so it definitely packed a big emotional punch and I did shed a few tears. I really loved that Madison’s sister Mila and her husband Pax (from the first book) were a big part of this book. It was like getting a second book about them continuing their story with their wedded life. This is a great series for romance lovers who like relationships that have to go through hurdles–both their own and with their partner– to get to that happy endingl
I listened to the audiobook provided by Hachette Audio
Get your own Audiobook at Audible: If You Leave.
The performance by narrators J. F. Harding and Suehyla El-Attar is just phenomenal. J. F. Harding’s low, gruff voice is perfect for Gabriel’s voice. Suehvla El-Attar has the most natural delivery out of the many audiobooks that I’ve listened to. I highly recommend this one in the audio version.