Friday, September 13, 2013

Book review: If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1) by Courtney Cole

If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1) by Courtney Cole
New Adult contemporary romance
Paperback/eBook, 220 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Lakehouse Press

24-year old Pax Tate is an asshole. 

He’s a tattooed, rock-hard bad-boy with a bad attitude to match. 

But he’s got his reasons. 

His mother died when Pax was seven, leaving a hole in his heart filled with guilt although he doesn’t understand why. What he does know is that he and his dad are left alone and with more issues than they can count. 

As Pax grew up, he tried to be the kid his father always wanted; the perfect golden boy, but it didn’t work. His dad couldn’t overcome his grief long enough to notice and Pax couldn’t keep up the impossible perfect fa├žade. 
So he slipped far, far from it. 

Now, he uses drugs and women to cope with the ugliness, the black void that he doesn’t want to deal with. If he pretends that the emptiness isn’t there, then it isn’t, right? 

And it’s never more apparent than when he meets Mila. 
Sweet, beautiful Mila Hill is the fresh air to his hardened frown, the beauty to his ugly heart. He doesn’t know how to not hurt her, but he quickly realizes that he’s got to figure it out because he needs her to breathe.

When memories of his mother’s death resurface from where he’s repressed them for so long, Mila is there to catch him when the guilt starts making sense. Mila is the one…the one who can save him from his broken troubled heart; from his issues, from the emptiness. 

But only if he can stop being an asshole long enough to allow it. 

He knows that. And he’s working on it. 

But is that enough to make her stay?

If You Stay has the most shocking in-your-face beginning to any New Adult contemporary romance I've ever read. Author Courtney Cole sure knows how to hook her readers. Initially, I was turned off by Pax's crude behavior and stereotypical views of females, but I was already invested in his strong voice and that of the other narrator, Mila Hill. I read on. What else could I do? And I'm glad I never stopped until the end.

"I've never seen anything as beautiful as Mila looks walking toward me across the dining room. And it's not just because she's gorgeous. It's because she's walking toward me. To be with me. Even if it's only for tonight or for now.

I gulp and grin at her.

She smiles back and everything seems right with the world, a strange and unusual feeling for me."

Pax begins to redeem himself when Mila walks into his hospital room. He sees someone special, someone fresh, unspoiled, innocent, everything he claims to not be. And he is attracted. But in order to get to know her he knows he has to change. Surprisingly, he wants to because he feels there's something different about this woman and it's something he wants. I may have detested Pax in the opening chapter (and we were supposed to), but soon after that I grew to like him. He's carrying around a lot on his shoulders and acting out--from drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around, driving fast and running off his mouth--are his ways of venting. Watching him stop these habits shows how serious he is about Mila. His voice is incredibly strong, his character multi-dimensional and real, I still may not have found him swoon-worthy but he was pretty close.

"Pax Tate is beautifully sexy in a very masculine way. There's not an ounce of fat on him, he's muscled and strong. I can see that from here. He's got an air of strength about him, like nothing is too much for him to handle, although his recent overdose contradicts that notion. I feel there's a certain sadness to him, probably because his eyes hint at things that I don't yet know about him, troubled things. His body is hard, his face is hard, his eyes are hard. Like stone.

And even still, I am pulled inexplicably to him."

Mila is the exact opposite of Pax--nice, clean-cut, quiet, intense, artistic. They share a love of the lake in their community and this draws them together. I liked Mila from the start. Her unique voice resonated with me, her outlook on life and things in general made me admire her. Her scenes with Pax vibrate with a gentle tension which increases the more they meet. Opposites attract for a reason and this couple is an excellent example of why that saying is true and still applies today. Watching them meet, converse, date, kiss, and think about each other, drew me closer to each character. There is more going on besides their love story, but it is their attraction, their chemistry, their pull to the other which is at the heart of this romance. They need each other. They want each other. They complete each other. 

Courtney Cole has written a terrific modern day love story with If You Stay. Once I began reading this book, there was no question--I had to stay and find out what happens with Pax and Mila.

Rating: 4

Cover comment:
I  like this romantic cover.

Book source:
I received a promotional copy in return for my honest review.

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