Genres: Coming of Age, Drama, Romance, Suspense
Buy on Amazon US • Buy on Amazon UK
When a seventeen-year-old girl vanishes,
A community is shaken.
Parents turn desperate.
Friends hold vigils.
And the boy who loves her searches.
When a year goes by,
The community is recovering.
Parents feel hopeless.
Friends feel helpless.
And the boy who loves her continues his search.
When ten years go by,
The community has forgotten.
Parents cling to the past.
Friends move toward the future.
And the boy who loves her . . .
Brings her home.
Jade Childs spent ten years in captivity, but now that she’s back, the real battle for survival begins. The media shadows her. Flashbacks haunt her. Her old life evades her. Her so-called new life rejects her. She spent too many years in the dark to recognize the light. She spent too long repressing her feelings to remember how to express them. She spent a decade abandoning hope and cannot dare letting it back into her life. Jade’s not just defined by what happened to her—she’s collared to it.
When the twenty-seven-year-old woman is found,
A community wants to know the story,
Parents want to forget the story,
Friends want to be a part of the story,
And the man who still loves her faces the greatest challenge yet: letting her go.
Reviewed by Joanne
*An E-ARC was supplied to me in exchange for review*
I love it when a book stuns me, and boy, did this book do that! It gave me one of those jaw dropping moments, where you just sit and you stare at the page and think to yourself “HOLY SHIT! I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!” In case you’re having trouble picturing that moment, I’ll show you the gif I sent Nicole Williams, because it just sums it perfectly!
And then you wonder where the story will go from there, because you just know that it can’t go the way you want it to go without someone getting hurt in the process.
So, as you know from the synopsis, Jade Childs went missing. She was gone for 10 years, and all through that time, Torrin Costigan never gave up. They were 17 when Jade disappeared, and Torrin devoted his life to searching for her. When everyone else had given up hope, he still had faith, he kept the search going, and against all the odds, Jade was found and brought home.
You’d think that would be enough wouldn’t you? It’s not. You see, Jade and Torrin were in love, and had plans for a life together until it was ripped away from them. Now Jade is back, but it’s not so cut and dried. Torrin may have kept the search going but he has moved on. He had to, to keep his sanity. Although Jade has returned, she’s not the same girl who vanished ten years ago. She’s been held captive, conditioned to do what she was told and lived a life of rigid routine. The fear will be with her for a long, long time. They are older, wiser, and yet there is still that pull towards each other. Torrin is her beacon of hope, the shining light at the end of a long tunnel, but they aren’t free to be together. Jade needs to reconcile with what happened to her, she needs time to adjust to being free, and Torrin, well Torrin is not free to be with Jade. Not yet anyway.
Oh, how I LOVED Torrin! Everyone needs a Torrin in their lives – he was so utterly devoted, he was there when Jade needed him, he was her best friend, he never gave up, he kept looking and he was a shoulder to lean on, strong, kind, understanding, someone you can trust and know that they will be there for you, always.
I have to bite my lip to keep from crying. He found me. He didn’t just look for me. He didn’t just keep believing. He found me. He failed better until he got it right. Those ten years I thought I was so very alone, I really wasn’t. He was still there, looking. Searching. Finding. That tether might have stretched and pulled and neared its breaking point, but he never let go. He was with me then too.
I was frustrated with Jade at times, her refusal to accept what he was offering had me shaking my head. I understood that she needed to put herself right first before adding anything else to the equation, but another part of me was ready to knock her out of the way, and grab him for myself!
“There’s conflict in me.” His eyes lift to meet mine. “So much I feel like it could eat me alive if I let it…………. but I made a promise to you first. If I’m forced to make a choice, it will be you. Every time.” He exhales, and his eyes lower. “It will be you.”
I just wanted her to take him, take what he was offering and run with it. I could understand that she wanted to heal first, she has a lot of catching up to do, and didn’t want to drag him down, but I think she could have done it WITH him, she didn’t have to do it all on her own.
I take a deep breath, let it spread, then I feel it. My anchor. What I’m tethered to. It’s him. It’s always been him. It always will be him.
This book was all about the feels. ALL OF THEM. I was overpowered with the awkwardness that Jade felt when she went back home with her parents. I could feel the strain between Jade and her family, how do you reconcile with a family after 10 years when they have grown but you haven’t. Yes, you have aged, but in your head you’re still 17, in their eyes, they still see the young girl they remember. Your younger siblings have grown up while you were gone, you’ve missed BIG things like graduation, marriage, babies. All your friends have moved on, you don’t have anything in common with them. You cant understand what they feel and they will never know what you feel either. How do you move on from that? Where do you start? I felt her panic, despair, hopelessness, anger, frustration, loneliness – you name it, I felt it.
I’ve read a lot of books by Nicole Williams, but I think this is my favourite so far. It was a haunting and beautiful story of love, a love that can conquer all. A tale of never giving up, and fighting for what you want, and I know Torrin and Jade will stay with me for a long time.
“And when did you finish falling in love with me? When I finally let you win a game of one on one? Or was it the night we…you know?”
Thinking about that night makes me blush. Talking about it makes me shift. Torrin glances at me for a moment,
“I’ll never finish falling in love with you.”
I feel something swirl at my ankle, then it grabs me. I’m sucked under instantly as the undercurrent slams me to the ocean bottom and tumbles me around. It’s happened before, so I don’t panic. I know that once it’s done with me, it will let me go. Once it’s twirled me around a few times, it will leave me alone.
I can feel it starting to lose momentum when two arms brace around me and break me free. When we pop through the surface, Torrin spins me around, terror drawing up his expression.
“Are you okay?” He holds me with one hand, inspecting me with the other like he’s going to find an elbow or organ missing.
I’m totally wet. I feel ocean water draining out of my ears and nose. My hair feels like a cyclone just had its way with it, and I know my skin’s red and blotchy from the sand exfoliation treatment I just received free of charge.
I laugh. This is what alive feels like. I remember.
It’s adrenaline pulsing so hard in my veins they feel about to burst. It’s feelings that twist my stomach into knots. It’s feeling so cold my body goes numb and so attracted to someone my body feels the opposite of numb.
This is it. Living. I can almost feel the blood warm in my veins as it starts to run again.
“Why are you laughing?” Torrin’s face flashes with relief when he sees I’m okay, but he doesn’t let go of me.
On the beach, my parents slowly make their way back to the beach blankets once they’ve seen I’m okay.
“That was fun.” I rub my stomach because it hurts. From the laughter. I’d forgotten stomachs could hurt from laughing.
“Fun? Not my idea of fun.”
I wipe the water from my face and find just as much sand pasted to it. “What’s your idea of fun then?”
Torrin’s still shaking his head when he suddenly shouts, “This!”
He pulls me under the water with him. He lets me go right away, but I don’t want him to. I don’t want him to ever let go.
I splash him when he resurfaces a few feet away. “Did you just dunk me?”
He splashes back. “I just did.”
“You’ve heard of payback, right?” I move a little closer, ignoring the way I can feel my parents watching us from the beach.
“I’ve heard of it. Not really a big fan though.”
When I lunge at him and try to knock him under, he’s clearly bracing for it because all I do is smash into him. My wet body against his, our arms tangled together, our faces too close to not be aware of where each other’s mouths are . . .
“What’s this payback thing again?” He’s practically gloating, so I come at it from a different angle.
My eyes drop to his mouth and stay there until his lips part from his breaths coming faster. When my hand curves against the side of his face, sweeping down the line of his jaw, I feel his chest moving hard against mine. His arms tangle tighter behind me because I’m slipping through them. When that doesn’t work, he hoists me higher, and his arms form a net beneath my backside.
I need to clear my head before I can’t remember what I’m doing.
My eyes lift to his and hold there. When he blinks, a drop of water rolls off his eyelashes. My hand slides lower until my thumb is touching the corner of his mouth.
“Torrin?” I whisper, my mouth lowering.
“Yeah?” His voice is rough, coming from low in his throat.
I move my mouth just outside his ear. “This . . . is . . .”—I burst free of his hold and slide his legs out from beneath him with my foot—“payback!”
He goes down with a surprised shout and an explosive splash. I’m laughing again, and so is he when he pops his head above the water.
“Well played, Childs.”
“Thank you very much,” I say with a bow, hoping he can’t see right through me the way I feel he can sometimes.
If he does, he’ll know. He’ll know I would have rather kissed him. I would rather still be kissing him. He’ll know that while I’m content to put most of the past behind me, there’s one part I want to pack and bring with me to the future.
I think he might see it though, because I think I might see it in him too.
The sun catches his eyes just right when he looks at me. “You always had a way of taking the ground right out from beneath me.”
About The Author
Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.