|AMAZON | KINDLE|
Heroine: Aleena Moore – College, Artist
Hero: Jared Holt – Tattooed, Tormented
Aleena Moore grew up in a good home with loving parents and two brothers she’s close to. She lives with her brother and attends college. Her life is normal but she has a hard time committing to anyone. There is a boy from her past that has always owned her heart, but is no longer in her life. Then her brother Christopher is out one night when he runs into his old best friend, Jared—the one who owns Aly’s heart. Christopher asks Jared to stay with them until he can get his own place. Aly is stunned and excited to find out the boy she’s always loved is back. But the boy she once knew is no more. Now in his place is a sexy yet broken man, with his hurt and pain tattooed on his beautiful body.
“Everything about him was dangerous. Just as dangerous as he was beautiful.” - Aleena
Jared Holt used to have the same type of loving home as Aly, but all of that was taken from him in one tragic moment. His life was destroyed at the age of sixteen and it took him down a dark path full of guilt, drugs, alcohol, self-loathing, intense grief, and sorrow. He lost everything that day. It’s been six years since he’s seen Christopher and Aly. He never intended to be a part of their lives again, but he’s drawn to them like he’s drawn to the town he grew up in. They were once a big part of his old life that he deeply misses. Seeing Aly for the first time is not what Jared expected. She’s no longer the little girl he remembers but a beautiful woman that he is magnetically drawn to, unable to make himself stay away from her no matter how hard he tries..
“She had gotten so far under my skin I couldn’t think straight anymore.” – Jared
The romance between Aly and Jared is a slow, gradual build. They form a sweet and endearing friendship while Jared lives with Aly and Christopher. They spend late nights together talking and learning each other. And I really enjoyed these close moments between them as they grew closer. Though Jared is a closed book about his past, Aly, with her kindness and patience, slowly breaks down his walls. And, as the sexual tension between them rises, their lust and desire for each other reaches a boiling point which leads to them becoming lovers. But their relationship remains a secret for several reasons. One of them is that Jared fears everything about this relationship, knowing it could end in disaster and Aly will get hurt. But feelings continue to grow deeper and more intense, which leads to a lot of unexpected yet beautiful changes for them both.
Whew! This story is emotionally exhausting. My heart broke over and over for our tormented hero Jared, who really hates himself for the terrible tragedy that happened when he was sixteen. His character is consumed by his loss and guilt and won’t forgive himself so he can move on with his life. Jared’s part of the story is saturated with heartbreaking angst. There were moments, particularly towards the end, when I felt like his inner turmoil became a bit overwhelming. However, the beautiful and authentic writing style made up for the exhausting angst-ridden moments. It also helped that the heroine, who is light to Jared’s dark, is amazing with her loyalty and fierce love for Jared. I appreciated Aly being a level-headed heroine without any emotional baggage, because Jared had more than enough. It was nice to see Jared begin to overcome his inner battles with Aly’s help by the end of the story.
Though loaded with angst, I truly enjoyed this deeply touching story which revolves around Jared and his struggles to find a way to break down his protective walls and allow forgiveness, happiness, friendship, love, and healing into his life. I loved the powerful connection between Jared and Aly, which began when they were kids. I really enjoyed the flashbacks to their childhood. And I love how their romance builds slowly – all while the sexual tension smolders between them. It’s always refreshing when a story doesn’t start out with insta-love. The ending ends on a good note (no cliffhanger), but there are unresolved issues and an uncertain future that needs to be addressed. I’m definitely looking forward to reading, Come to Me Softly.