My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I was really excited to find this book available on Net Galley. I’d previously read and loved Beautifully Damaged and while its sequel wasn’t quite as good I’d put that down to the fact that it was a sequel rather than an original.
This story starts really well with young girl Teagan, recently orphaned, being sent to stay with Mrs Marks a friend of her Grandparents. Feeling frightened and alone amongst strangers she meets Kane, who has also been adopted by Mrs Marks after his mother abandoned him. He is a couple of years older and is the sweetest boy ever. He does everything he can to make her feel welcome and the two become inseparable. As they grow older their relationship develops from friendship to romance and they seem to be made for each other.
When Tea heads off to college Kane stays behind and little by little they start to drift apart until a family secret comes from nowhere to split them apart. Tea is devastated as she loses not only the love of her life but her best friend and her new family. With the help of close friend Simon she has to find a way to continue and make a new life for herself. When Mrs Marks becomes suddenly ill years later she is forced to return to her childhood home and all of the painful memories associated with it. While there she discovers the real reason for her split from Kane and she has to decide whether to fight to regain her soul mate or walk away.
Overall I thought this was a really nice story about family and love. I thought the younger years were particularly well written as, despite the tragic circumstances that forced her there, life with her adoptive family seemed idyllic. I loved the pranks and games and young Kane was just so cute I wanted to adopt him.
Where it went a little bit wrong for me was when Teagan returned later and all of the secrets were revealed. It was at this point that I struggled to connect with the characters. I’ve seen a few reviews from other readers that suggest I am possibly alone in this as they cried and laughed and rooted for Tea and Kane. For me however, the dialogue and narrative just didn’t seem natural and I couldn’t feel it. Emotions and thoughts were over analysed and described in detail. I’d much rather characters showed their emotions rather than stating them. Maybe it’s a cultural difference between the UK and US but I’ve never met anyone who speaks about their feelings in such detail.
As far as the characters went they didn’t seem overly complex despite their troubled backgrounds. The stand out for me was Simon who was funny, sensible and the best friend you could possibly want. It would actually be good to see him get his own story as I think it could be something special. Teagan and Kane were ok but for me the relationship lacked the spark and I didn’t feel the supposedly deep connection between them.
There are a few unexpected twists in the story which keep it interested and I would definitely recommend it to those who like a story of second chances and love overcoming obstacles but it didn’t quite work for me.