Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Feature: If You Leave by Courtney Cole {Review+Top Ten!}

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If You Leave (Beautifully Broken #2)
   by: Courtney Cole

Publication Date: Aug. 6, 2013
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: New Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by InkSlingerPR and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 336 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 5/5 stars

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.

My Review:

Writing this review will be incredibly difficult as there are honestly no words to convey the emotions I felt after finishing this book. I knew on a personal level reading this book would be hard. A very dear friend of mine suffers from PTSD, having served two tours in the Army- one in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. Reading Gabriel's story is one that hit entirely too close to home for me and yet I feel Cole did an excellent job of tackling the delicate topic of PTSD and the relentless battle Gabriel faced on a daily basis. She handled such a topic with care and you could tell she researched this topic and
provided realistic information to the readers.

Gabriel is a former Army Ranger suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after an ordeal in Afghanistan has left him to face numerous demons no man ever should. He has seen too much, felt too much, and in turn has become a guarded man. He does not let people in and he certainly does not discuss what occurred to him in Afghanistan. Gabriel is plagued by nightmares and has unintentionally hurt others before while in that state between consciousness and sleep. He is determined to keep people at an arm's length and is rocked to the core when he realizes that beautiful Madison is coming to mean a whole lot more to him that he ever would have dreamed.

We briefly met Madison (Maddy) in If You Stay, which is the story of her younger sister Mila and her now husband Pax. I was really thrilled when I heard Maddy was getting her own book. She has her own issues to work through- the greatest of them all is that 4 years later, she is still dealing with the deaths of her parents. I felt so bad for Maddy as she is so conflicted. We learn that Maddy and Mila's father was not the man everyone knew him to be. He was a man, who while angry, would beat on his wife. The worst part is that this was not an all the time thing. For the most part he would be the loving man and father they knew and things would be ok, but when he morphed into this other man, Maddy wished her mother would have the strength to leave him. However, she never did. Maddy is torn between hating and loving her father. She tries to explain it to Gabe at one point, but it boils down to her feeling absolute guilt over something she had no control over. She may think her choice to leave Angel Bay for New York is the cause for so many problems, but that is not the case at all. Maddy will never be able to move forward unless she forgives herself and lets go of her guilt at not being there for her sister, her mother, or her parents' deaths. She has let her guilt consume her and has let it dictate her life and how she should be running it. Maddy never wanted to take care of her parents' restaurant or receive their house. However, she let that false sense of obligation take over and in turn, has not truly been happy for quite some time.

When Gabe and Maddy meet, she for once wants to be that girl that shirks her responsibilities and for once, doesn't let her obligations or guilt rule her. She is immediately drawn to Gabe standing outside a club in downtown Chicago. He's sexy, strong, and she can tell he's powerful: all definite turn ons for her. She has never preferred the clean cut good guys. Everything in her tells her she needs to stay away from Gabe, yet no matter how much he may infuriate and tease her, she can't. The sexual tension between these two is sizzling hot. As much as she tries to push him from her mind and turn her attentions elsewhere, she can't. Gabe feels much the same way with her. He knows he wants her and doesn't hold back in letting her know that fact. He is cocky and oh so arrogant and you can't help but want to pat Maddy on the back and tell her she made a good effort, but now it's time to ravage that man. Naturally a relationship between two people who harbor such dominating inner demons is not going to be easy. Gabe has to be very careful with her, as he does not want to hurt her in any way. He knows he can't let himself fall asleep with her for fear of a nightmare consuming him and taking him to a place in his mind he can't escape. A place where he easily loses control. Maddy was very reluctant at first concerning Gabe. Some of his earlier actions led her to believe he was a bully and after her father, that is the last person she wants to get involved with. However, after Maddy starts to see him for who he really is, not a bully, but as someone who wants to protect, not harm, that is when she feels her walls begin to lower and accept what she wants: all of him.

Oh the side characters! We have so many great ones in this novel! Of course Pax and Mila are back and in a much larger capacity than I would have thought! (Thank you Courtney!) I loved reading about them again and seeing how they were faring. Pax and Mila are soon to be parents and watching the absolute love, adoration, and tenderness Pax has for his wife is incredible. He is so protective of not only his wife, but of his sister-in-law too. He has no problem speaking his mind when it comes to someone hurting either of them and I loved Pax's 'big brother' attitude. Mila is also adorable with her 'pregnant brain', and even though she is focused on her baby, she always has time for her big sister.

Jacey, Gabe's sister and Maddy's friend, also plays a large role in the novel. I had some trouble liking her to be honest, but I'm hoping that will change in her book! I felt that Jacey acted immaturely for her age and she definitely made some bad decisions that ended up reaping some pretty serious consequences. However, she truly cares about her friendship with Maddy and really loves her big brother. Jacey however has some issues of her own that I'm sure Cole will shed greater light on in the next novel in the series Before I Fall. And then there's Brand. He is Gabe's best friend and also a former Army Ranger. The two served together and have been bound together by more than just friendship. They share a sense of duty, as well as know what truly happened in Afghanistan. There is one scene in particular between Brand and Gabe that absolutely made my heart shatter into tiny pieces. My friend has told me stories about how war changes a person and how you can't unsee things you saw or undo things you did. The emotional toll that has been placed on these men and women is unimaginable to me and in this scene you really see the darkness and the despair that haunt these men even years later. However, Brand was there for Gabe and is the epitome of a true friend.

Overall, this book is such an emotional one, as it deals with such a variety of issues: love, loss, forgiveness, acceptance, and moving forward.  Both Gabe and Maddy long for emotional stability- will they be able to find it with one another or will their demons drive them apart?

~Top Ten Things Maddy Wants Her Future Niece/Nephew To Know~
1. Always trust your gut instinct. If you're ever out with friends or a date, and you get a bad feeling about the situation, trust it. Get out of there.
2. Don't ever be embarrassed by what you like to do or your sense of humor. You are unique and you like different things than other people sometimes. That's okay. That's what makes you, you.
3. Help other people. What you put out in the world comes back to you.
4. There is no such thing as having too many pairs of shoes.
5. Life has tons of ups and downs. That's what makes it beautiful. Like Dr. Seuss said once, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
6. Always respect yourself and earn that same respect from those around you.
7. A few bites of cookie dough is delicious and necessary. A whole bowlful is gross and will make you throw up.
8. You're going to get your heart broken. It's okay. You'll be okay.
9. Spend time with the people you love. That's the most priceless thing on Earth: time.
10. Always remember how much we love you.


About the Author:

Courtney Cole is a novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could. She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds. She loves chocolate and roller coasters and hates waiting and rude people.
Courtney lives in quiet suburbia, close to Lake Michigan, with her real-life Prince Charming, her ornery kids (there is a small chance that they get their orneriness from their mother) and a small domestic zoo.

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  1. This one sparked my interest when I first saw it. I was very interested in reading about this ranger and how he deals with everything he has been through. I am happy to see you enjoyed it.

    1. I so enjoyed it! But it definitely made my heart hurt SO much!

  2. Gahh I dont even know where to start. There is so much I want to say! Okay first, I loved Maddy and Gabriel too! Gabriel was so lovely and amazing and I want to smoosh him. Jacey, *grrr* she needs a reality check and a smack. Okay maybe not, but girl needs to grow up a bit. Cant wait to see what goes down in her book. I loved that we got Pax and Mila too! I really loved seeing them again.

    That top 10 is awesome, especially the shoes line.

    Great review!

    1. Yes! I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought that about Jacey! I wanted to smoosh Gabe too! He was just freaking amazing! I hope we get to see them in the third book like we did Pax and Mila in this one!

  3. Great review! I loved If You Stay and I can't wait to read this one, especially after your review :-)

    1. :D It's so great! I loved Gabe and Maddy's story!

  4. Aw, you've reminded me of how very much I loved If You Leave. Cole did such a fabulous job of bringing Gabe and Maddy to life, and I agree she handled his PTSD so very well.
    Beautiful review, Jessica!

    1. Thank you Andrea! This was such an amazing read! I loved every minute of it! And she developed her characters SO WELL!


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