September 16, 2013

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: If You Leave (Beautifully Broken #2)

The New Adult genre - their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

If You Leave (Beautifully Broken #2), by Courtney Cole
Published August 6, 2013
Publisher:  Forever
Format: e-ARC, provided by NetGalley
Genre:  new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(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.

Courtney Cole is on my map. I've only read two books by her, but both books in the Beautifully Broken series have gripped me in a unique way. Both are new adult books, and therefore include certain standards - 20-something main characters, troubled pasts, steam and sex. But, there's something about her books that draw me in and touch me in crazy ways. 

Madison has always been the "responsible" older sister. When her parents died, she resigned herself to living a mediocre life so that her younger sister Mila could have a full one. Now, Mila is married with a baby on the way, yet Madison still can't cut the past loose. A chance meeting with Gabriel at a club one night, then again at her restaurant has given her something else to think about. And then someone else to lean on when the rest of her world starts falling apart. Only, Gabe has his own problems - big ones - left over from his time in Afghanistan. And those problems may stop their relationship before it really gets going. 

I have a new weakness - books featuring war heroes. I've read three or four now, and If You Leave was one of the best. Gabe spent time in Afghanistan and experienced something truly awful. As a result, he's suffering from some pretty extreme PTSD. There's something about these sad, broken men who find themselves again once they find someone to love that really gets me. Gabriel has a hyped up protective instinct that is my achilles heel - I see that come out in a guy, and I'm instantly in love. BAM - hello, new book boyfriend. 

Gabe is rough around the edges - he spent much of his time recently around a bunch of other guys in the desert, for crying out loud. He's not smooth or sweet. But, when the guy realizes what he feels for Madison, he goes balls to the wall to try and keep her.
"It's like I'm not whole when I'm not with you. You're a piece of me. A big piece of me. And, when you're gone, I can't function right. I'm only half a person... I don't deserve you. That much is true. But, all I want is you. And if I can't have you, then I don't want anyone." 
Madison is a female lead I can get behind. I get her self-sacrificing attitude, and the way Cole writes her, it doesn't seem artificial or over-the-top. Madison is a strong person who doesn't take any crap from anyone. She's learned to depend on herself and her sister. And, I love how Gabe is the one who cracks her hard shell. She doesn't really make it easy for him, either. There's no insta-love here (thank you for that, Ms. Cole). Which makes the inevitable get-together so much sweeter and fulfilling. 

One of the best parts is the solid presence of Mila and Pax from If You Stay. They play a major part in Madison's and Gabe's story, and I really loved that. I fell in love with Pax, and seeing him as a husband and father-to-be was so amazing. 

If You Leave is told in dual POV - Madison's and Gabe's. Gabe's thoughts were particularly compelling, especially toward the end when he starts to face everything that happened to him. I finished this book in record time. It was completely engrossing and so, so emotional. I was brought to tears several times.

Before We Fall (Beautifully Broken #3) is the next book in this series, and it comes out in early December. Based on my experiences with Courtney Cole and her Beautifully Broken series so far, I may just have to one-click book three right now, because it's a sure thing as far as I'm concerned.     

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