Deeply affecting and emotional with an exquisite vulnerability and realness that made the book all the more powerful.
I loved every moment of this beautiful book!
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Early in her life, Josephine Malone learned the hard way that there was only one person she could love and trust: her grandmother, Lydia Malone. Out of necessity, unconsciously and very successfully, Josephine donned a disguise to keep all others at bay. She led a globetrotting lifestyle on the fringes of the fashion and music elite, but she kept herself distant.
While Josephine was trotting the globe, retired boxer Jake Spear was living in the same small town as Lydia. There was nothing disguised about Jake. Including the fact he made a habit of making very bad decisions about who to give his love.
But for Josephine and Jake, there was one person who adored them. One person who knew how to lead them to happiness. And one person who was intent on doing it.
Even if she had to do it as her final wish on this earth.
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“It’s never too late to reach for happiness, and no matter what life has done to you, it’s never too late to find it.”
Wow. I ended this book with heartfelt tears streaming down my cheek. I was so affected by it. So attune to it. The story exuded a raw vulnerability. An honesty that resonated deeply. I was surprised by all the emotions that surged so unexpectedly, that once they hit, consumed me wholly, gutted me in a way that made me simultaneously heavy with sadness and light with happiness and hope. From the very beginning, I felt as if I were there, in Magdalene – this idyllic place by the sea, at Lavender House. A place that personified love and safety, acceptance and embrace. And as Josie Malone stood in front of her grandmother’s casket, shattered and hollow, the winds of change swirled around her as her life readied to traverse a whole new path, leading her right back to the place she considered home.
“Here was where I put my father behind me. Here was where I put my world behind me.”
Josie had the kind of childhood you hope to survive. The kind you wish you can forget, but regrettably, the kind that has an undeniable impact on the expanse of one’s life. At a time where she had no one, her grandmother Lydia was everything to Josie. And although the brightness of her life would dim and withdraw beneath a self-imposed, protective guise, it was with her Gran that she felt loved, safe, whole and happy. Josie’s time away from Magdalene was spent travelling worldwide, next to her long-time companion and boss, Henry, who lived his life behind a camera, but very much in the spotlight, thrusting them both in the thrilling throes of fashion and music. At 45 years old, however, losing her Gran suddenly left her wondering what was next for her.
At the funeral, her eyes fall upon a startlingly handsome man with his children, his gaze bold and strong and intent, but it isn’t until the next day as the contents of Lydia’s will are read that her life feels suspended. Frozen in shock as she again sees this man who Lydia apparently loved. A man suddenly pushed into her life in a way she would have never anticipated.
“My most precious possession, the thing I treasure above anything else in the world, that being my granddaughter, Josephine Diana Malone, I hereby bequeath…”
James Spear is a retired boxer who works hard to create a solid life for his three children. He’s made some poor choices which have left him to raise his kids on his own. He’s a good man who’s struggled through life, stumbling through the bumps he’s been given, but resolute to do right by his family. I was immediately taken by him. The juxtaposition of the rough, weathered exterior and the softness, love and loyalty he exudes from within is simply striking. Whereas Josie doesn’t know anything about him, he knows everything about her. Lydie, as he fondly called her, shared so much about Josie. Her life, her hurt, her hopes. Meeting this woman changed everything for him too. She was beautiful and classy with a refined vernacular that was witty and unsettling but cute as hell. Despite less than ideal beginnings, it didn’t take long to see the goodness inside, the willingness to help others, and the loneliness that consumed. She was different.
“It hit him in that moment in a way he knew he’d never forgot that he could take that hand and she could lead him anywhere.”
Josie wasn’t looking for love. Love had let her down. Abandoned her. Pushed her. Shoved her. Scarred her in a way that she had to find how to live despite of it. Although her life seemed glamorous, it was a facade she wore to get by. She thought she was happy. That she needed no one, but when James and his kids made their way into her life, they made their way in to her heart as well. She thought she wasn’t what he wanted, but she found that he was everything she never knew she needed.
“I felt something strange, strange and miraculous and beautiful and strong budding inside me. Something I liked in a way I knew I could love. Not even love but adore. Worship. Need.”
The more I learned about these two people, the more I desperately hoped for their happy ever after. The gradual way they fell in love, finding that they needed each other in a way they never realized was a beautiful thing to see. Jake’s honesty and directness began to pierce the walls she built around her heart. Slowly, she became the Josie she used to be. The person who wanted to be happy with someone who loved her completely. And Jake, he was so disarmed at how she fell into the rhythm of their lives in a way that seemed fated and natural. He had finally gotten it right this time and he would do anything to not lose what was clearly blooming and thriving brightly between them.
“He was in love with her. Gone. Deep. He’d lost his heart. He knew she had it in a way he hoped like fuck she never wanted to give it back.”
This is a story brimming with emotion. Real and honest and poignant. Josie and James must face struggles together, both external and internal, to keep the good thing they’ve got going. And before they grab a hold of that happiness too, there are more secrets to be revealed that have the power to change everything. Even now, after I’m done, I still feel so caught up in Josie and James’ story. I’m not ready to let it go. There’s an intangible magic and honesty to this book that makes it so unforgettable. So striking. So perfect. As I mentioned above, the way she tied it all together left me in tears and I cried my way through the last couple chapters. Pure beauty. This has probably been my favorite KA book to date and I can’t recommend this book enough.
“I never wanted anything but you, Jake… And I wanted you before I even knew you. Someone handsome and strong and protective and fierce. You’re everything I ever wanted, darling.”
Reading Order and Links
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