Thursday, 15 August 2013

Review: If You Leave by Courtney Cole

Title: If You Leave (Beautifully Broken #2)
Author: Courtney Cole
Release date: August 6th 2013
Publisher: Forever
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Pages: 336

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.
"The bad thing caught you."
I completely devoured If You Leave in just a few hours, I was that glued to it! And I was literally struck speechless by the end. If You Leave is even better than If You Stay, and that's saying something, because I really loved that one. I don't even know how this review can do justice to the amazingness of this book but I'll try my best. Courtney Cole, you've definitely made your way to my favourite authors list!

I love the way Courtney begins her novels - she starts them off with a bang. You immediately know that this guy has some pretty big issues, and you start wondering what they're about and how he gets over them. If You Leave follows Madison, Mila's sister, and Gabriel, an ex-Army Ranger. Who also happens to be Madison's best friend's brother. Gabriel's past is way more traumatic than I could have imagined, and he's been having night terrors ever since that fateful day. When he meets Maddy, he knows he can't get too close to her or he'll hurt her, but he just can't help it. Maddy's got baggage of her own, and she doesn't want to burden Gabe with them. But can they fight their demons together, or will they be forced to stay apart?

Firstly, I loved how much of Pax and Mila there is in this book. In most NA companions, we  don't get to see too much of the old characters we first fell in love with. But Mila and Pax have quite a big presence in this, which is awesome. Mila's pregnant, and it's so adorable how protective Pax is of her! He doesn't let her lift a finger for anything, and he seems totally domesticated. I was like no way is that Pax! But it was, because he's about to start a family with Mila and he's ready for that. It's sweet how protective he is of Maddy, too. They've resolved their differences and have grown on each other. So Pax looks out for Maddy any chance he gets.

I have to say I didn't like Maddy much in If You Stay, but in this one I totally loved her! She can be cold on the outside, but once you know her, she's really sweet. She has so much to deal with because of the restaurant she owns and the fact that she gave up her dreams to run it. We get more of an insight into Maddy and Mila's parents' relationship, because Maddy was old enough to know what was going on. Watching her dad abuse her mom scarred Maddy, and she's found it hard to trust men ever since. Until Gabe, that is. Initially, she's not too sure of him since she sees him as a bully, like her father. But as she gets to know him, she realizes that Gabe is nothing like her father. He's a protector, and he'll keep Maddy safe. And that's all she wants.

Gabriel is even more messed up than Pax was in If You Stay. After a horrible experience in Afghanistan, he and his best friend Brand decided to quit the Rangers. Brand got psychological help after the incident, but Gabe decided not to. And that's why he still has night terrors, and episodes where he doesn't have any idea what he's doing. He's dangerous in that stage, and he's learnt to stay away from people when he's sleeping. But as he gets close to Maddy, he relents to stay the night with her once, but that was the biggest mistake he could possibly make. I really really liked Gabe, and felt so much for him after I heard the full story of what happened. He's so strong an honourable, and his protectiveness over Maddy and his sister Jacey is admirable.

The things Gabe and Maddy have to go through in this book is just so much... I love their relationship and the fact that they can overcome anything together. Gabe has some pretty dark moments but thinking of Maddy helps to get him out of them. There's a lot of sorrow in this book, I gotta say. Some really intense moments involving Pax and Mila, and my heart was in my mouth the entire time! Bottom line? This book totally blew me away. I was struck dumb after I finished it, and my eyes teared up so much towards the end! At a letter, specifically. I would have been openly sobbing, but I was wearing contacts and that wouldn't have been a good idea. I think the message Courtney is putting across is just amazing, and the author's note at the end is really touching. It really makes you appreciate the people fighting for your country. If You Leave is a serious must-read, and if you haven't started this series yet, you really really need to!

Rating: 5/5

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