He’s a tattooed, rock-hard bad-boy with a bad attitude to match.
But he’s got his reasons.
His mother died when Pax was seven, leaving a hole in his heart filled with guilt although he doesn’t understand why. What he does know is that he and his dad are left alone and with more issues than they can count.
As Pax grew up, he tried to be the kid his father always wanted; the perfect golden boy, but it didn’t work. His dad couldn’t overcome his grief long enough to notice and Pax couldn’t keep up the impossible perfect façade.
So he slipped far, far from it.
Now, he uses drugs and women to cope with the ugliness, the black void that he doesn’t want to deal with. If he pretends that the emptiness isn’t there, then it isn’t, right?
And it’s never more apparent than when he meets Mila.
Sweet, beautiful Mila Hill is the fresh air to his hardened frown, the beauty to his ugly heart. He doesn’t know how to not hurt her, but he quickly realizes that he’s got to figure it out because he needs her to breathe.
When memories of his mother’s death resurface from where he’s repressed them for so long, Mila is there to catch him when the guilt starts making sense. Mila is the one…the one who can save him from his broken troubled heart; from his issues, from the emptiness.
But only if he can stop being an asshole long enough to allow it.
He knows that. And he’s working on it.
But is that enough to make her stay?
I was thrilled to receive this ARC as part of Courtney’s blog tour for If You Stay. At the end of the review is also a giveaway for a prize pack, courtesy of Courtney, so make sure you enter! I had already planned to read this book right when it came out, just from seeing the cover and blurb. Pax Tate sounded way too intriguing to pass up. I mean, he’s an asshole. And he knows it. But he doesn’t know how to change. Even though he wants to. Because of Mila. Got it? Okay.
So the book started out super strong. And shocking. Like from the first page, I was hooked. And intrigued. I was also kind of blushing. I have never read a book that started the way this one did, and let’s just say it was done so perfectly! Then, it got crazy fast. Pax pushes his luck with drugs. Again. And thankfully, Mila Hill is there to literally save his life. When she comes to check on him in the hospital, she’s super relieved to see he’s alive, for starters, but she’s also kind of fearful of the attraction she feels toward him. Pax is the complete opposite of who she needs in her life. But thanks to some persistence on his part, and maybe some insanity on her part, she decides to give him, them a shot.
While I appreciated Mila for her ability to accept Pax’s past and hope for his future, there were a few times that I wished she’d had a bit more backbone –> hello, boat incident on the lake. I’d be a bit more pissed about that. Just when I was getting frustrated with her meek attitude, she stood up for herself. I couldn’t have been prouder of her at that moment!
There were plenty of twists in the story – some that I thought I saw coming, but then were much more and some I didn’t see AT ALL. I loved that aspect tremendously. I’m over the predictable bad boy, shy girl, who work together to form this impossible connection that can withstand anything. Pax and Mila couldn’t withstand anything. Their relationship took work and they faced a lot of obstacles.Their relationship is filled with all sorts of issues, some normal, and some amplified due to experiences both of them have been through. There is also the added stress of Pax having some sort of regressed memory from his mother’s death, that’s causing quite a stir in his life. It causes him to teeter on the edge between being who he wants to be, and falling back into old habits.
Another part I loved – the steam. They had undeniable chemistry and Pax kinda screamed sexiness. In the same regard, though, so did Mila. She was this sort of shy, closed off girl, but get her with Pax and she was a freaking VIXEN! There were quite a few moments where I was left fanning myself. I won’t give them away, but I’ll mention: art lesson and shower. Okay.
After uncovering the biggest secrets about his past, Pax has to figure out a new normal. It’s not an easy realization and the path is rough. I will say, I was very pleased with how the author wrote this entire part. I felt like it was believable and really relatable. I was nervous, though, that Pax would fall worse into old habits than he did, so I guess it’s good that he didn’t. I will say, I found myself crying during the epilogue –> the letter! I didn’t totally love the epilogue because it felt a little too much “telling” and I prefer the experiencing, but when I got to the letter, I cried and my heart felt full, so I forgot about not caring for it. :)
Overall, I really enjoyed this story (4 stars for me) and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a contemporary story, with plenty of drama, tension and steam. There’s a great balance of all the elements and the writing is engaging, the characters are great (there’s a Madison!), and the story will suck you in. The alternating POV was awesome, and really enhanced the story as it was great to get into both Pax and Mila’s heads. I appreciated not getting just one side of the story! :)
Please know, there are strong sexual elements, along with language and drug use, so it’s not for the easily offended or faint of heart!
Enter below for your chance to win! Up for grabs is one of FIVE SIGNED COPIES of If You Stay!
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.
Check out the other blogs on the tour HERE!