Sunday, 3 March 2013

Review: If You Stay by Courtney Cole

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 façade.
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?
"Love never fails, Mila. And I'll never fail you again. That's a promise.” 
If You Stay is such an incredible book. So much depth, so much emotion. I'm kind of in a New Adult phase right now, so I devoured this book in a day. And man, did I love it! Pax and Mila are both such amazing characters, and I really connected with them in this book. I loved being inside their heads, even if it was just for a day!

From the first chapter itself, I knew this was a book that would stand out to me. Courtney Cole doesn't shy away from serious issues or anything that others may find slightly uncomfortable. I loved the raw and honest feeling that this book gave me. If You Stay is definitely for mature readers, though, so if you're below 15, I don't recommend reading it right now :P

Initially, Pax is just not the kind of guy I'd like. His life mainly revolves around drugs and sex, and he doesn't seem to care about who he's becoming or what he does with his life. I didn't like the way he treats women, and I didn't like the way he treats himself. But along the way, after meeting Mila, he began to change. We get to find out a lot about Pax's past, a lot of shocking revelations. And trust me, they were probably the most shocking things I've ever read in a book! There are heavy issues addressed in this book, and they're not to be taken lightly.

I grew to love Pax, though. How could I not? He can be so incredibly romantic. I love his determination to prove to Mila that he can be a good guy for her, the right guy for her. I love how protective he is of Mila. He really, really doesn't want to hurt her. But he doesn't know if he can stop himself from doing that. Pax is a heartbreaker, but deep down he's just a misunderstood guy with a dark past. I know that's a bit cliched in New Adult, but Courtney's writing just makes this book so different from the others.

I also really liked Mila's character, even though I have a couple of issues with her. Mila is sweet, kind, and selfless - basically, everything Pax is not. At first, anyway. In Mila's first encounter with Pax, she saves his life. Pax sees the goodness shining through her, and is attracted immediately. Mila knows Pax isn't good for her, but she can't seem to stay away. her sister, Madison, isn't helping either, by telling her to stay away from him. I loved how Mila never gave up on Pax. She believed in him from start to finish, and that's part of the reason why he was able to face his past. She lent him strength when he needed it, and reassurance too. What I didn't like about Mila was that she doesn't get that Pax needs his space. When he regains his memories of his past, he needs time to let it all sink in. It's normal to shut people out, because they can't really help you. But Mila doesn't get that, and she resents Pax for shutting her out. Enough that she decides the relationship isn't worth it! I wanted to go into the book and smack her, but thankfully it worked out.

Another thing I really love in this book is Pax and Mila's relationship. They're just so sweet and hilarious together! They tease and joke with each other a lot, and the banter was a nice break from the darker parts of the novel. Oh, and their relationship is seriously hot. Like, sizzling. Every time they're alone together, holy hell, it's enough to make you sweat! The scenes are so, so steamy. Which is another reason this book is for mature readers! The romance is so deep and intense, and every second left me begging for more.

If You Stay really is a fantastic novel, and the emotion in it as well as the depth of the characters make it even more amazing. I honestly can't wait to read the companion novel, If You Leave, which follows Mila's sister, Madison. I know it's going to be just as good, and Courtney will blow me away with it, like she did with If You Stay. If you guys love New Adult, you HAVE to read this one!

Rating: 4/5

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