by Courtney Cole
★★★★★ (5 / 5 stars)
*I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher for review*
Gabriel Vincent is an ex-Army Ranger, who came home from a horrific event in Afghanistan, which had left him mentally scarred. While in Michigan, he sees his family and friends again, as well as meet Madison Hill, a spunky girl who owns a restaurant and has some baggage of her own. The story follows the two of them, and their relationship, which evolves slowly due to Gabriel’s PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and Madison’s difficulties in facing the fears of her past. The underlying theme of this book is definitely about facing your fears and staying strong no matter how hard it gets.
If You Leave is book two of Courtney Cole’s Beautifully Broken series. Pax and Mila from Book One’s If You Stay become pretty major characters in terms of plot progression. I especially love the relationship Madison has with Pax.
I absolutely loved this book. I don’t normally care for military romance kind of books, but this was much different than I expected. This story was an emotional rollercoaster that kept me glued to the pages from beginning to end. There are several dark themes that are covered in the book, including: the terrible effects of PTSD, suicide, abuse, and domestic violence. But the author did a great job in handling each of these issues in a way that made Gabriel and Madison stronger.
There was a bit of a scary scene toward the end of the book, that kept me on my toes. Because only a few chapters earlier, there was a terrible tragedy with one of the characters (one of them I really loved, too!). Madison has had it so rough in this book, but all of these rough experiences has made her into a stronger character, which we see evolve in her as the story progresses.
If you loved If You Stay, then you will definitely love the emotional ride in If You Leave.