Publishers: Atria Books
Published Date: Feb 12 2013
My rating: 4 out of 5
Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them. Four years ago Kacey Cleary’s life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend’s lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, twenty-year-old Kacey and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami. Struggling to make ends meet, Kacey needs to figure out how to get by. But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle anything—anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D. Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and he perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey’s guarded heart—even if it means that an explosive secret could shatter both their worlds.
Right from the outset we learn that Kacey is a tough nut. Her language, her attitude, her thoughts on others prove that she has trust issues. But the most constant person in her life is what keeps her grounded, to a certain extent, at least. Livie, her sister, was sick at home when the car accident happened. At sixteen Kacey's parents, her boyfriend and her best friend were all killed when a drunk driver hit their car. Kacey survived and she is understandably traumatised by the whole shocking ordeal. Hospital for a year, rehabilitation, shrinks and moving in with her aunt and uncle all take their toll. Kacey manages to continue life after the accident albeit from the bottom of a bottle, using drugs and having lots of meaningless sex. Her life was spiralling out of control. Her aunt and uncle were not role models either. Her aunt being a bible nut preaching against evil, her uncle squandering their inheritence in a card game. All in all when Kacey's uncle makes a move on fifteen year old Livie, she takes control back of her life for once and gets them away in the dead of night for a new beginning and a fresh start.
This book is a moral story. Kacey's been given a second chance at life, she just doesn't know it yet. Her primary concern is taking care of her sister, but we soon learn that it's really her sister taking care of her. Without Livie Kacey would be a lost soul on a path for destruction. Kacey wants nothing more than vengeance against those who took her family from her. It's eaten so deep inside her that its hard for her to make any kind of connection with anyone new.
Her neighbours help. Storm is a lively, Barbie looking babe who has an adorable little daughter that captures everyone's hearts. On the other side of her new apartment is Trent, who literally steals her breath away. No one has ever affected Kacey the way Trent does. What I loved most about this book is it gives us a reason to hope for something better. The small network of people that soon become part of Kacey's family are varied, sometimes troubled but mainly they are there in Kacey's life through the good times and the bad. They don't pry, they don't judge, they don't ask questions, they just get on with life and slowly meld their lives together.
So the better in Kacey's life isn't the fact that she eventually earns enough money to put Livie through school, or lets the small secrets of her past gradually creep out. It's the constant knowing that others are around you when you break and will be there when you get better. After all, don't they say family doesn't equal a blood tie, its those who you let in.
The other moral behind this story is the drunk driving incident. After a night out, drunk Trent lent his car keys to a close friend who lied and told him he hadn't been drinking for a while so was able to drive them home. Trent has to live with those consequences for ever. A mistake like that doesn't just affect the ones who died, but the ones who lived and the relatives and friends. That mistakes affects families, rips relationships apart even to the point of some wishing for a way out like Tanner's brother suicide. I was pleased with the outcome of the story, the end 30% is quite intense and I'm not sure how I feel with some of Trent's actions towards Kacey during the past or present but TTB did have an HEA.
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