- Publisher: Entangled Publishing
- Publication date: 12/11/2012
- Source: eARC provided by the publisher for review
Sarah O’Brien is alive because of the pact she and her brother made twelve years ago — James will protect her from their violent father if she promises to never leave him. For years, she’s watched James destroy his life to save hers. If all he asks for in return is her affection, she’ll give it freely.
Until, with a tiny kiss and a broken mind, he asks for more than she can give.
Sam Donavon has been James’ best friend — and the boy Sarah’s had a crush on — for as long as she can remember. As their forbidden relationship deepens, Sarah knows she’s in trouble. Quiet, serious Sam has decided he’s going to save her. Neither of them realizes James is far more unstable than her father ever was, or that he’s not about to let Sarah forget her half of the pact . . .
I will first say that this book should come with a box of tissues and a warning label, "Will make you cry uncontrollably." I'm not even kidding. I was crying the ugly cry. Whimpering and loud sobbing, trying to catch my breath. Nothing I say can possibly do justice to this book. I have written and re-written this review over and over again because I just don't feel like what I am saying is good enough. As I am writing this review I have tears streaming down my face just thinking of the events in this book. This book was incredibly heavy and dark. It tackles some very serious topics. It is also beautiful. For almost the entire book I felt like my chest was constricted. Like the life was being squeezed out of my poor little heart. I was so invested in the story that I actually felt as if I personally knew the characters. I wanted to reach into the book and keep Sarah safe. I wanted her to not feel so much guilt. I felt the emotions along with them. This is one of the most emotional books I have ever read. It left me exhausted and aching inside. It is also one of the best books I have ever read.
Since the book is centered around Sarah, I will start by talking about her. This girl is so broken. She has never known any love except for from her brother. She can't remember her mother ever touching her at all. No hugs, no wiping away tears, nothing. The only thing she knows is trying to not make her abusive father angry, trying not to ever be at home alone with him, and hiding away in her room to try to escape him. Her brother always steps in to protect her, but he also controls her and keeps her close. Too close. I loved seeing Sarah finally start to try to break out and live her own life, but her guilt and fear keeps her from really being able to. She knows what she wants, but she is so terrified of hurting her brother, and then at a point scared of her brother, so she holds back.
Now I want to talk about James. As much as I wanted to hate him, to be disgusted with him, I couldn't. He was so messed up, but it wasn't his fault. He spent his whole life trying to protect not only Sarah, but his mother too. He wants nothing more than to get him and Sarah out of the situation at home before his father ends up killing them. Somewhere along the way James has developed a love for Sarah that is beyond brotherly. He is actually in love with her and won't allow her to be with anyone, or to leave him. He won't even allow her to have a job. She promised him when they were kids that she never would, and he intends to hold her to it. He gets increasingly more possessive and unstable as Sarah tried to have a little more freedom. I really felt so bad for what his life has made him become.
The romance was both very sweet and sad. Sarah has had a crush on Sam forever, but never imagined he felt the same. When he makes it clear that he is interested in her things become complicated. It's everything she wants, but James won't allow it. He gets irrationally angry. She knows she wants to be with Sam, but also has to hide it from James. Sam is so sweet. He knows about what is going on with her family, he wants to protect her, and he loves her for her. He won't give up on them being together because he feels that she is the one he is meant to be with forever. Even as much as she pushes him away at times, he still refuses to let her go. He knows it's not what she wants. She loves him too, but every time she is going to choose to be with Sam rather than stay with her brother, James falls apart more and she thinks that James needs her more than Sam.She feels selfish when she thinks of leaving with Sam and being happy instead of staying with her brother.
I can't even go into the book much without totally spazzing and giving away too much. It's intense right from the start and it just builds and builds until it literally breaks you. I could feel the fear from Sarah. My heart was breaking right along with hers. I was sickened by the thought of some of the things that were happening. I wanted so badly for her to be able to fix her brother as she was fixing herself. My heart needed for her and Sam to be together. For her to realize that it was what was the best for not only her, but for him too. All of the emotions and intensity of this book led up to such a heart shattering ending. I don't think I will ever be able to find all the broken pieces of my heart. I am sure that some of them will be forever left behind in the pages of this book. I don't even know what else to say except for this is one of the most beautiful, dark, and emotional books I have ever read. Even a full five star rating doesn't seem like it's nearly enough.