The New York Times bestselling author of On Dublin Street and Down London Road returns with a story about letting go of the past and learning to trust in the future…
When Hannah Nichols last saw Marco D’Alessandro, five long years ago, he broke her heart. The bad boy with a hidden sweet side was the only guy Hannah ever loved—and the only man she’s ever been with. After one intense night of giving into temptation, Marco took off, leaving Scotland and Hannah behind. Shattered by the consequences of their night together, Hannah has never truly moved on.
Leaving Hannah was the biggest mistake of Marco’s life, something he has deeply regretted for years. So when fate reunites them, he refuses to let her go without a fight. Determined to make her his, Marco pursues Hannah, reminding her of all the reasons they’re meant to be together.
But just when Marco thinks they’re committed to a future together, Hannah makes a discovery that unearths the secret pain she’s been hiding from him, a secret that could tear them apart before they have a real chance to start over again…
“When we were kids, I was in love with you … That never went away, Hannah.” He rested his forehead against mine. “And now that I know you again, I’m even more in love with you.”
Samantha Young’s books have become an instant one-click buy for me and Hannah’s book was one I was curious to read. Since we met her in On Dublin Street as a teenager, her character was one I sort of related to, mainly because like Joss and Olivia, she was sort of a book nerd. So I was glad to get my hands on her book and to get to know the woman she had become and to finally meet the boy in her life.
“Friends, my ass,” Joss grunted … “The sexual tension between you two is off the charts.” Her grin turned smug. “Reminds me of me and Mr Carmichael.”
What I really enjoyed with this book was finally putting a name and a personality on the mystery boy that was mentioned by Hannah in Before Jamaica Lane. And I loved hers and Marco’s story. It was full of drama and angst, but also very sweet, especially when Hannah takes us back to the time where she and Marco got to know and fall for each other.
“I’m in love with you. There is no one else for me and I don’t know how I know, but I do know that there never will be.”
I loved her as a teenager and how she just went after what she wanted even though she seemed to me like this quiet girl. I loved that she proved me wrong and that I was able to see another side of her in this book.
Hannah in this book is a young teacher and I thought it fit her well. I liked how passionate she was about her work and her students. I could relate to her situation, having been in her shoes myself and I loved being able to relate to what she was describing. Two of her students really touched me and as I followed them through Hannah, I really got to care for them as much as Hannah did.
I very much enjoyed this story and how Hannah and Marco fell for each other. I loved being able to go back and witness those special moments between them, to feel the mounting tension as the two of them slowly but steadily developed strong feelings for each other. I loved getting to know Marco and where he was coming from and his story.
“I’m your best friend. You’ve just forgotten. My fault, I know. I can help you remember.”
Marco’s character was great. As a teenager and as a man, he made me fall for him and the force of his feelings for Hannah. And boy, he said stuff that had me fanning myself and my knees buckling. Seriously though, Samantha Young just knows what to make her male characters say so that it’s both sweet and hot.
“I’m not going to hide that I want to get to know who you are now. I’m also not going to hide the fact that I think you’re still the classiest, most fucking beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, or the fact that I remember the taste of you and it still makes me hard.”
The way he fought for her and to earn her trust and love again was just great and I loved how determined and obstinate he was. That made me laugh on more than one occasion and I loved that it drove Hannah crazy. I also loved that all the women in the family were rooting for Marco when Hannah wasn’t and that they let him ambush her.
“You’re stalking me?”
“I prefer to call it ‘actively pursing you.”
And I also loved the friendship between Hannah and Cole and their connection to each other as friends. I wasn’t expecting it, or at the very least I expected something non-platonic happening between those two, but the fact that their friendship was a true one, without ambiguity about how they felt for each other was refreshingly surprising and welcomed. That’s something I loved about Hannah and Cole and about the book.
“I’d felt lost for a long time after he left. It had taken a while to find my strength and independence again. It had meant hardening my heart and creating little locked doors in my soul so that only the people I trusted implicitly could ever make it inside to touch it.”
Now, if I think about the structure of the book, I felt like it had two parts. Or more like two Hannahs. There was the Hannah before Marco, this funny, happy, daring girl who goes after what she wants and isn’t afraid to show her feelings to the people she loves. And there was the Hannah after Marco. Still sweet and lovely, but…scarred. The Hannah after Marco put a distance between herself and well, pretty much everybody, even her family and friends.
And when you finally know what happened to her after Marco left, you understand why she would do that, but while I read, I felt like this distance she was putting between her and her family, I felt it too as a reader. It was like I knew the “Young Hannah”, and even though I also knew the “Old Hannah”, I just felt a distance from her. It’s hard and a little weird to explain so I won’t keep on trying to explain it, but I think you’ll feel it too when you read the book.
“I don’t care if you’ve changed. I don’t care who you are now. I don’t need or want your explanations because what you did, you didn’t do it to me, you did it to that girl you left behind. And I’m not her anymore. You made certain of that. She might have needed answers and an apology, but me…I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
There was one thing that bothered me a little while reading though. I really liked Hannah’s character throughout the book but at some point, her attitude in general but toward Marco kind of disappointed me.
I got that she was hurt and that her scars from the past were holding her back, that she was scared to get hurt again and all, but the way she was hurting both Marco and herself (deliberately, I might add) actually surprised me, coming from her. I really didn’t expect her to be this kind of person.
I understood and liked the kind of person she was when she met Marco. I also understood the kind of person she became after what she went through and they fell apart all those years ago, and even then, through all the holding back and secrets she kept from him and her family and friends I still liked her because I could see where she was coming from even though I didn’t agree with what she was doing. But her behavior toward Marco after everything was said and there were no more secrets between them disappointed me because it was clear that she was hurting Marco (and herself) even though she was able not to.
“I want to protect you, I want you to know that for me there’s no one else like you. That you make my universe turn.”
But apart from that bit in the story, I loved all of it. Even though this book is a little darker than the others in the series, it was a very emotional book, sort of a roller-coaster with some very funny moments and I’m thinking about the Crazy Clan that is Hannah’s family and the little monsters that were added to it. Here’s a sample:
“Beth, eat your greens. They’re good for you. Come on, eat your peas.”
“I don’t want to,” she whined, and we turned to watch her push her plate back. “They’re little fuckers.”
“Are you Hannah’s boyfriend?”
Marco’s reply was, “Nope. She won’t let me be.”
Beth had immediately turned her cute look of consternation on me. “That’s really rude, Hannah.”
“Marriage is about leverage?”
“Yes.” Every single married person at the table answered.”
… some truly sweet ones when I ooowed and got all mushy and stuff and some truly heartbreaking chapters that had me trying to swallow the big lump that suddenly got stuck in my throat and trying to read through the stupid tears that were filling my eyes.
“You were this precious, beautiful gift that came into my life when I needed it the most.”
As usual, Samantha Young did wonders. Every time I pick the new book in the ODS series, it’s like snuggling under a fluffy, warm, familiar blanket. I love going back to this world and getting to read about those amazing characters. It’s a feeling I don’t get tired of and I’m always looking forward for the next book. And since we’re talking about, and it’s one I’m sooooo excited and looking forward to read, I just couldn’t help myself and conclude with this…
“Cole: “One day you’ll meet someone you can stand to commit to, and I’ll meet someone who isn’t batshit crazy.”
Hannah: “Oh, you dreamer you.”