Unbelievable writing. Deeply heartfelt. Completely Unforgettable.
A beautiful second chance romance full of heartache and pain, hope and love. It brought me to tears as I experienced every moment in the story and desperately hoped for a happy ending.
William has spent six years running from his past and the last eight months trying to rid his mind of the dreams that increasingly haunt his nights.
Maggie had lived her entire life without hope until one man showed her what it meant to be loved. He’d been her light in a lifetime of darkness. Six years ago, that darkness stole him away. Without him, she’s surrendered herself to an existence she doesn’t know how to escape.
In a moment that will change his life forever, William comes face to face with the girl who, with one look, captured his heart.
Now William is ready to fight to take back what had been stolen from him six years before.
But he never imagined what that fight might cost him.
A.L. Jackson gives you an intimate look into the lives of a family bound by an unseen connection in this new contemporary romance.
Before I begin reviewing the book, I first have to talk about A.L. Jackson and her beautiful writing. She has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I’ve now read Pulled, Lost to You, Take This Regret and finally this book, When We Collide. For me, there hasn’t been another author that from page 1, captivates me so completely and emotionally to where I feel what her characters are feeling. Each time I finish one of her books, I am emotionally-spent from all the ups and downs… skipping from sadness to happiness to disbelief of the plot peaks she throws at you. Her approach to writing is so uniquely distinct, from her word choice to her stream of consciousness sentences brimming with feeling… her stories draw you in even while tackling difficult issues like abuse, loveless marriages, life-altering mistakes, tragedy and grief. I also love to read how her main characters feel so drawn to each other that they feel each other’s presence, their connection always coiling around the other. As a writer myself, her books are an example of what I hope to achieve with my own–to connect with the reader so deeply that you forget you are simply reading a book. I recommend reading whatever she publishes. Period. She’s that good.
So on to the book. The central characters are William Marsch and Maggie Krieger. The book begins with another nightmare that William is having. For the past six months, he has been dreaming of a blonde, brown-eyed young boy that resembles him, running through a wooded area, giggling and laughing as he ran… only to suddenly hear the child scream after running from his sight. The child was in trouble. William wakes, in his apartment in L.A., with a woman, Kristina, that he does not love, in a life that has been numbed by his own exertion to forget the his painful past and the woman he once loved.
“I’d accepted a long time ago that life I wanted would never be, but the isolation of the night always seemed to bring it all back, and it’d only gotten worse since I started having the nightmares six months ago.”
But tragedy befalls his family and he decides that he has to go back to his small town in Mississippi, this event an opportunity for him to temporarily part from the life he can no longer stand, but fearfully putting him back in a place that threw him into this lifeless, heartbroken existence in the first place. Six years prior, he hastily left his family–his parents, his brother–and everything he knew as home, without ever returning, without ever explaining.
Once home, he comes face-to-face with Maggie again, old wounds ripping open as he realizes he continues to love her. And shockingly, she has a son, Jonathan. The same young boy from his dream… a boy that looks just like him. At seeing Maggie and her son, his world is turned upside down, settling a heavier weight on his shoulders.
“Old regret throbbed somewhere deep within my chest. Maybe I should have stayed.”
The book alternates between William’s and Maggie’s POV, so we get the opportunity to learn more about Maggie too. She has lived the most miserable life. Growing up with her mom, and her younger sister–all three of them victims of her father’s abuse–only to be thrown into the arms of another abuser, her current husband, Troy. Reading about Maggie’s situation is heart-breaking and painful. She is so beaten down, yet her will to escape flares intermittently, only to be quelled by the tremendous fear she feels for Troy. Six years ago, she had loved William, but because of another awful tragedy that you will read about, she let him go the night they were to run off together and marry.
“I had stayed on the same path that he had tried to save me from. But I had never stopped wanting him. Loving him. He’d fought for me. And I’d let him go without putting up my own fight… I regretted it more than I could ever say, more than I could ever openly admit.”
As you continue to read, you learn about what happened between them that summer they met, that summer they fell in love, that summer when they painfully separated, propelling each of them into their own unique life of hurt. Maggie has continued to suffer heinous abuse, but at seeing William again, and with a growing fear for her son, she wants to leave, only to have Troy threaten to kill her… again. And William is left unsure of what to do.
“I battled to ignore the man who claimed Maggie, the man who claimed my son, the one who stole.”
I don’t want to give away what happens, but ultimately, William and Maggie know they cannot live without each other, but the chain of events that unfurls is chilling.
I highlighted so many parts of this book, but my two favorite quotes, summarize the major themes.
“Underneath all the scars that lined my body and lined my soul, William saw me. And he loved me as much as I loved him.”
“I leaned down to kiss her, a gentle brush of my lips against hers. Sliding my hand down, I cupped the back of her neck. It was everything that I wanted her to know, that it shouldn’t hurt to be touched, that it was okay to be adored.”
This is a book about strength in the midst of perilous fear, true love in the careful quest to keep those you love safe and a flickering hope battling with hopelessness. I loved it and I know you will too.