☆✮ My Review ✮☆
I thought this was going to be JUST a friends to lovers love story but was more than that. It included themes of unwavering love, family, and friendship.... the effects of that war has on a person.... and universal messages that encouraged those in need to seek help, get answers, and overcome.
Xander and Willow have been best friends since childhood and inseparable ever since. That this, until, Xander enlists in the army and cuts off all contact with Willow and everyone. Now three years later, and with the request from her mother and Xander's mother as a last resort, Willow is ready to have answers. What happened to her best friend? Why is he so detached, so hollow, so angry and bitter of a shell of man that she once knew? And does he reciprocate what's always been in her her heart?
As for Xander, the man with the world upon his shoulders. His world is black, haunted by the screams of his comrades, the musk of their blood, grime, and deaths. He's a man plagued with the evergoing question of why him but not them? He thinks he's a man beyond saving. Beyond redemption. But what do you do when the light to your bleak and desolate world comes in the form of the girl that has always been embedded deep within your heart and soul? Will she be what sheds him of his demons and saves him from destruction and himself? Or is he well past salvaging?
Over all, a great book debut with a tad bit abrupt ending.*sorry!* I think what I liked most was the simple complexity of the novel and that it centers on Willow and Xander rebuilding and reconnecting and coping with Xander's current condition. There isn't any great scheme of a plot here or annoying subplots--- just, an ordinary gal and an ordinary guy just trying to make due with what was thrown at them and live their lives...hopefully, with each other in it.*wink wink*
This was a lovely beginning for Harloe Rae. Can't wait to see what she has in store for the future and am honored that she had reached out and included me in her journey as a writer. Thank you!
☆✮ Excerpt ✮☆
Pain. Debilitatingain is all I feel as I attempt to keep my emotions in check. Saying goodbye to my best friend was never a thought I entertained. Now it's my reality. “Wills.” His voice takes on a pleading tone as he stares into my tear filled eyes. “Please don’t make this harder for me than it already is.” He continues to look at me as the saltwater drips down my cheeks. “I’m sorry, X, but you have no idea how difficult life will be here without you.” I can’t catch my breath as the hysteria threatens to take over. I try to take deep inhales between puffs of pitiful exhales. He presses his forehead to mine and I don’t think he understands how much that involuntary, ingrained move means to me at that moment. Xander is one of the greats and I’m about to lose him. “Promise me,” I begin in a begging voice. “Swear to me that you’ll come back and everything will be the same.” “Willow Shae, I could never stay away from you longer than necessary, so you don’t even have to ask. But yes, I promise and swear I will be back as soon as possible to return to our regularly scheduled friendship.” With that remark, he has me cracking a smile. Even through the tears. Gosh, I will miss this man. “Will you write me? Does that sound cheesy? I see it in all the old time movies and I always wanted to say it.” Maybe it is the dreamy lilt to my voice that has his lips quirking into a smile. “Wills, I will write you every chance I get and I expect the same. Now, give me a hug that means everything you feel because I won’t see you for at least a year.” His eyebrows crease with that devastating blow, even though I’d heard that timeline before. I can tell he’s still very worried about how I’m feeling based on the telling nonverbal cues radiating off him. We embrace easily, like so many times before, yet this is different. His hands linger on my hips before settling on the middle of my back. His breath holds until he blows it slowly across my neck. His eyes find my gaze like he had more to say than his voice would allow. I indulge these rare affections and give a few curve balls of my own. “I’ll miss you every day, Xander. I will never go a single moment without a thought of you. Best friend or not, you mean more to me than any other person in this world. Please be careful. I will be waiting for you.” I pull away before he’s able to reply. I can’t stand to further delay this inevitable separation. Xander looks down at me once more before picking up his pack and hoisting it over his shoulder. Then he tosses out the toughest blow ever dealt. “When I am having a bad day, or we get into brutal battle, or a friend gets hurt, or… just something awful happens, I will think of your smile because it always makes me happy.” Then he turns and walks toward the airline gate. This was it. I have to tell him. It is now or never. As he passes through the threshold, I gain my courage. “Xander!” I scream. He turns around immediately and looks startled by my outburst. It’s then I realize he had planned to keep walking until I called out. I can’t lay out my heart then just watch him leave. Instead of telling him exactly how I feel, I blow him a kiss. Maybe for good luck or maybe for all the kisses I wish we had actually shared. He catches it and smiles. Then continues on his way. Xander is much braver than I am, he's an amazing man, and he will make our country proud. But my most forefront thought is worry that I will never get to tell him how much I love him.
☆✮ About the Author ✮☆
Harloe Rae is a new author and just released her debut romance novel, Redefining Us. The idea for this book has been building in her mind for years and she finally decided to let the story out. Harloe is married to an amazing man and they have an adorable little boy. Family is what makes her life worth living and she cherishes the special moments together. She is also passionate about horses, reading, blogging, and having fun! Interaction is really important to Harloe, so make sure to follow her pages and say hello!