A turmoil of destructive emotions. A raging torment of buried feelings. A story of a love and healing. It was an intense and heartfelt conclusion, beautifully written in A.L. Jackson’s lyrical style.
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Jared Holt never thought he deserved either—until he found both in the arms of Aly Moore. Aly has loved Jared for as long as she can remember, and she’s more than ready for the future they’re making together. But Jared can’t help remembering his own family. And he’ll never forgive himself for what happened to them. How can he allow himself the very happiness he once destroyed?
To live a life worthy of Aly, Jared knows he has to stop running and finally put his past to rest. But when he decides to face his demons head on, he encounters more than he bargained for: a dangerous mix of jealousy, lies, and dishonest intentions. When those intentions threaten Aly, Jared loses all control, giving into the rage that earned him his bad boy reputation years before. And he’ll fight to protect her no matter.
“You need to stop pretending that past didn’t happen. One of these days you’re going to have to face it.”
This story has been one where I’ve really felt the pain of our tortured hero. A fact that came as no surprise as A.L. Jackson consistently delivers stories with the power to make me feel everything so completely. You feel it all. The pain. The sadness. The guilt. The hope that wants to desperately break through but is just too heavy with heartache to take flight. Jared Holt had relented to the dark side of himself for too long, and finding Aly again brought unexpected light and love. Feelings he never thought he would have, of which he didn’t think he was worthy. This sequel is really all about acceptance. Jared must finally make the choice to live or to die an emotional death, tethered to his past and defined by pain. He’s at a precipice — at the brink of losing it all or gaining a life he never dreamed possible.
“Jared had spent his life running from his past. But he returned because somehow, through all of that, he’d seen a future with me. I chose to believe in him because I knew no other truth. I chose to believe in his love, as fragile as it was. I chose to believe he would be strong enough to face all the demons darkening the goodness of his spirit, the ones that shown as the horrors imprinted on his skin and manifested as tremors that shook him in the night.”
Jared Holt comes back to Aly, realizing that his life, however volatile, is one that cannot be lived without her at his side. The future they face is paved with uncertainty, and Jared’s fear and guilt threaten at every turn. But I love that he chose to stay. Chose to fight. Chose to put in the work to build this scary, uncertain future together with the woman he loved, heart and soul.
“I was in love with this girl. And I wasn’t going to let her go. Not ever. Days without Aly were darkness, and I was done surrendering to it.”
Jared and Aly’s story has always felt intense. Explosive. There were times, however, in this second book that we got to see Jared driven by hope and determination. Happy. I momentarily felt the weight lift from my own shoulders as I relished in how he began to build a life for his family. Creating beauty from destruction. Something good from the chaos.
“It seemed impossible one woman could make me feel this way, that one girl held my heart with a single string. The one that connected us, this unseen bond that wound us so fucking tight sometimes it felt like it was squeezing the life right out of me. Like I couldn’t breathe. But really, it was that I couldn’t breathe without her.”
Despite the joy that infiltrated their lives, there was turmoil they couldn’t avoid. Truths needed to be revealed before they could move forward, but with Jared’s emotions constantly flaring, you couldn’t help but feel that something was coming with the power to shatter everything to pieces. The story had a sense of foreboding that kept my heart pounding, waiting for the moment where everything he built would splinter into pieces that couldn’t be put back together.
“I love you more than I could ever tell you. And I’m scared because I feel you slipping away. Every day it feels like another piece of you is stolen from me and one day I’m going to lose you. I can feel it, Jared. All the hurt you keep hidden inside is going to wreck you. Wreck us.”
I absolutely loved Aly’s strength. Her resolve. Her commitment to Jared. No one knows Jared like Aly, but despite her small pushes, there was a part of him she couldn’t reach. She knew that Jared had to make peace with his past in order to find happiness. Only then could she appease the hurt, dispel feelings of unworthiness… help alleviate the pain still painted all over his skin and the fury reflecting in his eyes. I also loved that she was able to let Jared know that having pieces of him was no longer good enough, she wanted it all for their family. And sometimes, it’s those lines we draw that can hold the most power, forcing realization pound through, but sometimes it can be the soft blow that breaks everything apart.
“Shame twisted through me on a gale-forced wind, flashes of my mother’s face, what I had done. They all clashed in a violent fury against the love I’d found in this life, in the light that was Aly.”
Jared’s story is confusion and chaos, pain and guilt, shame and deflection. It is explosive. It builds. It’s the quiet before it all erupts with the emotions he’s kept buried. And let me tell you that the moment the fury is unleashed and feelings boil over, consuming everything and everyone in its path, it hurt. I felt my heart shatter. Hope implode. And suddenly everything felt very uncertain.
“But I’d felt this coming. A storm brewing in the distance, a steady build of destructive energy, a force that could not be contained. Tonight was the culmination of it all. I just never expected how vicious it would be.”
This has been an amazing series from A.L. Jackson. Her writing has never been tighter. More beautiful. More powerful. Every word was felt, every scene delivered perfectly. Her lyrical style always makes me feel like I’m caught up in a moving wave of moments. The words are constantly in motion, the feelings she incites always fluid as you experience her unforgettable stories. I loved everything about this conclusion. It brought me to tears and I hope you are as affected as I was by Jared and Aly’s story.
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About A.L. Jackson
She first found a love for writing during her days as a young mother and college student. She filled the journals she carried with short stories and poems used as an emotional outlet for the difficulties and joys she found in day-to-day life.
Years later, she shared a short story she’d been working on with her two closest friends and, with their encouragement, this story became her first full length novel. A.L. now spends her days writing in Southern Arizona where she lives with her husband and three children.