Published by Self-Published on May 11th 2015
I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would ravage me.
Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again.
I loved you.
I raged for you.
I wept for you.
And now, I’m letting you go.
Reviewed by Joanne
*An E-ARC was given to me in exchange for review*
I’ve been waiting for this book for what feels like forever and boy was I rewarded for my patience! The teasers had already done their job and had me hooked on this story before it even started. This tale of friendship, love and second chances was everything I was hoping for and more.
Dalton and Spencer had been together since they were 12, childhood friends but nothing more although Spencer harboured what she thought was an unrequited crush on Dalton. Finally spurred into action, thanks to a cunning plan by Cassie (Spencer’s best friend) Dalton admits his feelings but he thinks he is too much of a risk to Spencer. He’s damaged and has been pulled into a life he has no way of escaping. He doesn’t want to bring Spencer down with him and he doesn’t think she fully understands the demons he has to battle.
“I want you, Spence, but I can’t have you. I won’t allow it. You’re too good, too pure, too innocent, and just as your presence soothes me, mine will eventually flaw you. It’s inevitable, and I care too much for you to let that happen.”
Little does Dalton realise, Spencer has her own demons, and she’s a lot stronger than he thinks. I loved watching their friendship develop into a relationship. The transition was seamless, there was no awkwardness or shyness, this was what they’d been waiting for and they weren’t going to waste another minute. Unfortunately, life had other plans and things got dangerously close to home, too close for Dalton’s liking and he had to make the most difficult decision of his life. He had no choice, he would do anything to keep Spencer safe, but in doing so, he also broke her.
The story is told in three parts, and I love the way L.B. Simmons went with it. The first part is where we’re introduced to Dalton, Spencer, and also Cassie, Rat (Dalton’s brother in arms), and Lawson, who will go on to become a pivotal part of Dalton’s life. We see the characters as 18 year olds, with their whole lives ahead of them. We see Spencer experience her firsts with Dalton, and also the dynamics of their relationships with those around them. And we see those characters torn apart by circumstances beyond their control. Part two broke me! I cried for Spencer, for her loneliness, I cried for Dalton, for his pain and I loved him even more for his selflessness. He put Spencer’s safety above his happiness, everything he did was with her in mind. I hoped that the wheels that had been put in motion would come to fruition and it would be worth all the heartbreak. Part three is about redemption, forgiveness, and second chances. I can’t say too much more as I don’t want to spoil the story.
I have to give Cassie and Rat special mentions too. I loved Cassie, she had a heart of gold and was there every step of the way for Spencer. Every girl should have a friend like Cassie. She also deserves a nomination for ‘Best Line in a Book’ after coming out with this little beauty “I’m totally serious Spence, I swear on my Kindle”. I knew then that Cassie was a girl after my own heart! And then there’s Rat, living the same life as Dalton, and the only one who knew both sides of him. I laughed at some of the things that he came out with, and I shed tears at the unfair hand he was dealt.
This is one of those stories where I just want to shout “ONE CLICK THIS BOOK NOW!” because L.B. Simmons absolutely nailed it!
Dalton’s voice is thick as he begins to speak. “I’m sorry, Spence. I know I hurt you—”
I shake my head dismissively. “You didn’t hurt me. I’m just tired.”
The corners of his mouth dip downward and he lifts his hand, placing his palm against my cheek and swiping the moisture with his thumb. My heart would typically melt at the tenderness of the gesture, but now I find it only aggravates me. I narrow my eyes and shove his hand away from my face.
“Don’t do that. Don’t do something you don’t mean.”
Channeling my sorrow, anger begins to churn as I step away and turn my back on him. My bare feet carry me to the wooden rail that lines my porch and I brace my good hand against it, leaning forward and inhaling deeply.
Dalton growls with frustration. “What the fuck? Of course I mean it. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, Spence. I’m trying to apologize here.”
I laugh humorlessly and turn to face him. “For what, exactly? For stalking me on my date tonight?”
His blue eyes now heat with a different emotion as they slice to mine. “The date in which you were being manhandled by some fucking loser who asked you out for no other reason than to get back at me?” He scoffs openly. “You should be thanking me.”
I cease the fight to hold back my tears, permitting them to flow freely as I respond. “I handled it, did I not? I don’t need you to protect me, Dalton. I can take care of myself.”
He chuckles, unsmiling, as he removes his cap and throws it to the ground, dragging his fingers through his hair in irritation. My glare hardens as I continue my rant.
“And yes, he asked me out to get back at you. Are you apologizing for that? Or are you apologizing for the fact that because of your stupid crusade against me dating anyone EVER, I was so excited to be asked out that I accepted a date with said fucking loser because I wanted to know what it would be like to actually be wanted for once?” Not entirely true, but true enough to make my point.
My breaths are heavy and my pulse is thrumming rapidly through my entire body. I angrily wipe away the tears as I inquire, “Why is that, Dalton? Why is it that you don’t want me, but no one else is allowed to have me?” I shake my head in frustration as I stumble on my words. “I just…I don’t understand.” My voice trembles and my chin quivers with the admission.
Dalton heavy boots sound as he stalks across the porch. I avert my gaze, but once he’s in front of me, he curls his fingers around my chin and pulls my face into his line of sight. His eyes burn into mine as they narrow in earnest. “You think I don’t want you? Goddamn it, Spencer,” he bites, “I want you so much I can’t fucking breathe when I’m not with you. Every single time I force myself to walk away from you, I feel nothing but agony as the anger that simmers here,” he breaks to pound his closed fist on his chest, “breaks free and chars my insides with each step I take.”
His eyes begin to glisten and his jaw tightens as he shakes his head. “I can’t fucking breathe without you, don’t you get it? I want you so much that being without you is absolute torture.”
He swallows deeply and moisture seeps from my eyes at the sight of his exposed emotion as he continues. “I want you, Spence, but I can’t have you. I won’t allow it. You’re too good, too pure, too innocent, and just as your presence soothes me, mine will eventually flaw you. It’s inevitable, and I care too much for you to let that happen.”
I watch a lone tear fall from the corner of his eye before he concludes, “But you’re right. Even thinking about you with someone else, with someone else’s arms around you as you look into their eyes the same way you’re looking into mine right now, I just…” He casts his stare downward and shakes his head. “I just can’t. So I guess I’m just a selfish, heartless prick, because where does that leave you?”
The tear finally falls free from his chin, and I watch it strike the wood beneath our feet before placing my hands on the side of his face and forcing his eyes to mine. My voice trembles as I speak. “I know you like to control things, Dalton. That’s how you’ve learned to cope and I understand that, but you don’t control me. My feelings. My heart. And even though you feel you don’t deserve those things, that they’re not yours to have, you’re mistaken.”
I tighten my grip as he tries to look away and state with emphasis, “You ask where that leaves me? Well, it leaves me right in the same place, on this same porch, as I was six years ago when I met you. The day that all of those things you think you can’t have I willingly handed over without question.”
Releasing my hold, I turn away from him, knowing his refusal will absolutely destroy me as I state into the night air, “I have always belonged to you. I will always belong to you. Regardless of what you’ve done, what you do, or what you will do, I will forever be yours. And that’s my choice to make, whether you choose me or not.”