I’m in the minority on this one, I know I am. But I just didn’t love it. Though technically a standalone, the story relies heavily on the reader already being emotionally invested in these characters based on the trilogy that precedes this (which follows another couple). We miss out on the flirting, the first hookup, the first investment of feelings, and are left with a tortured bad boy who messes up repeatedly and the girl who is his only hope of a brighter future. So, to me, there wasn’t a good enough reason to put up with all of the drama – and there’s a lot of that. The writing is still very solid and it’s easy to get hooked on the story, but I would’ve loved for this one to play out a little differently.
The story follows Levi and Phoebe in the aftermath of their hookup. While Phoebe knew that the tortured musician was troubled, that all comes to light in a big way when a drug-induced sex tape featuring another woman (from before their hookup) is leaked to the press. Phoebe’s past makes her wary of getting involved with a guy who uses drugs to numb his feelings, so she cuts things off before they can really get started. But Levi is already emotionally invested in Phoebe, and he seeks out the light that she provides.
There were elements of this that I really liked, from the strong writing to the complexity of the characters. Cotton is great at writing angst and that’s definitely at play here. Levi is the very definition of a bad boy, acting out when he doesn’t get his way and struggling to survive at times. I didn’t appreciate the level of OW drama, and the relationship is too toxic for much of the book. Levi is in SUCH a dark place, I think he needed to heal a little more on his own before being truly ready to start something. There’s plenty of triggering content and a backstory that will break your heart, but I needed more of the good times between these two – especially at the beginning. There’s a lot of Levi feeling sorry for himself and a lot of drama that I would’ve tolerated better if we saw more of the good between these two. I don’t think their love story should be SO reliant on the reader already rooting for them before the book even begins; this doesn’t feel complete on its own. I still liked a significant amount of it, but this would’ve read a lot better with a few changes. I received an early copy via Give Me Books and am voluntarily leaving a review of this angsty new adult romance.
Working for America’s hottest rock band should be a dream come true for Phoebe Halstead.
And it would be, if it wasn’t for lead singer, Levi Hunter.
Tortured… Brooding… Broken. He’s everything she should stay away from.
Unfortunately for Phoebe, she’s exactly the kind of girl Levi needs. The light to his dark. The calm to his storm.
He wants to be worthy of her; she knows he’ll never change.
Everyone knows the greatest love stories end one of two ways:
… with a happily-ever-after or in heartache and ruin.
GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53679251-ruin
“Why does this feel so right?” She broke the kiss, blinking up at me with her big honey eyes.
“Because maybe it is. Maybe we just both have to take a chance.”
“I can’t do it again. I can’t watch someone I…” She stopped herself, letting out a heavy sigh. Part of me was relieved. I didn’t want to ever hear those words. “I’ll never be the most important thing in your life. I deserve that, Levi. I deserve to come first.”
Her honesty shook me to the core. Phoebe had scars. The deep kind. The kind I knew I couldn’t fix. The kind I knew I would only rip open if I pursued this thing with her.
But I couldn’t walk away.
I couldn’t do it.
So long as she was on tour with us, we would continue to go around in circles until one of us cracked. Or I fucked things up for good.
Touching my head to hers, I breathed her in. “I’m not a good guy, Bee, but I’d try to be good for you.”
A shiver ran through her as she swayed gently. She was drunk. Maybe more than I’d first thought.
“Come on,” I said, guiding her toward the bed. “You should get some sleep.”
Phoebe began stripping out of her clothes with haste, as if they were suffocating her. “Stupid shirt,” she groaned as she tried to yank it over her head.
I stood back, smothering the laughter rumbling in my chest. “Need some help?”
Her eyes snapped to mine, glittering in the dark. “I can manage.”
After a couple more failed attempts, I crouched down and nudged her hands away. “Here, let me.” My fingers brushed her bare skin, and she whimpered again.
My dick strained against my jeans, desperate to feel her again. But the next time I was inside her, I wanted Phoebe to know exactly who she was fucking.
I pulled back the cover. “In you go.”
“I can’t believe this happening,” she mumbled. “How embarrassing.”
Phoebe buried her face in the pillow.
I made quick work of stripping down to my boxers and climbed in bed beside her. She tried to roll away, putting as much space between us as possible.
But fuck that.
I hooked my arm around Phoebe’s waist and pulled her back against my chest.
“Levi, we can’t snuggle…”
“Why the fuck not?” I tangled my legs with hers, fighting the urge to press my hard length right up against her ass.
“Because I’m your assistant and you’re…” She let out a little huff of frustration.
“It’s okay, honeybee,” the nickname rolled off my tongue as easy as breathing, “you can say it. I’m the best sex you’ve ever had.” I breathed against the shell of her ear.
Her sweet laughter filled the small room. “You’re definitely the biggest ego I’ve ever had.”
Start the series today!
Black Hearts Still Beat: Eva and Rafe’s Trilogy is now available in a box set!
About the Author:
Author of over thirty mature young adult and new adult novels, L A is happiest writing the kind of books she loves to read: addictive stories full of teenage angst, tension, twists and turns. Home is a small town in the middle of England where she currently juggles being a full-time writer with being a mother/referee to two little people. In her spare time (and when she’s not camped out in front of the laptop) you’ll most likely find L A immersed in a book, escaping the chaos that is life.