By Courtney Cole
Synopsis: "In If You Leave, we continue the wild ride Courtney Cole started us on in If You Stay. This raw story of heartbreak and hope solidifies Cole's standing as a rising star in hot contemporary romance." -New York Times Bestselling author of Down to You, M. Leighton
"Another raw, gritty masterpiece with a sexy-as-hell Army Ranger to swoon over." -K.A. Tucker, author of Ten Tiny Breaths
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..
Review: Finding the words to express how I feel after reading Madison and Gabriel's story is difficult. I am at a loss for words, and coming from me that is saying a lot. I believe this is all due to the fact that I can hardly think straight and am having a hard time seeing the keys through the tears in my eyes. God, this book was amazing. I have read dozens of books exploring a variety of emotions and this one brought me to my knees.
Madison is strong and stubborn. She has given up all of her dreams to come home, after the passing of her parents. Feeling, out of guilt, that it is her obligation to look after her sister, Mila, and their parents' restaurant even if it means putting her own ambitions on hold. Each of us has stood at the crossroads of our lives and have had to make tough decisions. Choices that alter the course of our lives. Moments that have us choosing what we think we have to do verses what we want to do. This sacrifice has left Maddy feeling more empty than resentful, but she is doing the best she can.
Gabriel is a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. A Ranger. His entire life has been about being a solider. It is what he was born to do. It is in his blood. But what do you do when you can no longer do the one thing you were meant to? This is where Gabe finds himself; between the life he always wanted and the life he can no longer live. Is he strong enough to push aside the haunting demons that plague his nightmares? Or will they push him from the ledge?
Madison and Gabriel bring out the best and worst in each other. They challenge one another. They offer comfort and strength. They draw out the things neither of them wants to face; their fears. What happens when their biggest fears are each other?
Courtney Cole's writing is beautiful. She took a very real, very serious topic and presented it with honor and dignity. Showing that even the bravest among us, those who put themselves in harms way everyday so we can each enjoy our freedoms, sometimes need help. There is no weakness in that. We control our fear, not the other way around.
I enjoyed that the author weaved Mila and Pax into the story. Offering the reader glimpses of their life after If You Stay. Using their struggle, perseverance, and love as example of the possibilities available to Maddy and Gabe. Together there is nothing they can't overcome.
If You Leave has earned a spot on my "favorites" shelf. It is my new must read recommendation to everyone!