Ashley Ellis has been living under her mother's shadow all of her life, only for more than just appearances most of everyone thinks Ash is the younger sister of Tigin the supermodel. When Teagan Ellis was 15 years old she got pregnant, her parents where so ashamed they preferred to have the baby as "their" mostly to shelter themselves from criticism, yet they didn't want anything to do with the baby. When Teagan is discovered and becomes the famous "Tigin" she takes her daughter away to her awful yet glamorous world. Teagan in hectic and all over the place, she isn't exactly motherly material and as she starts using drugs it even worsen their situation. Teagan stops getting jobs and when an opportunity to marry the VERY rich (and much older) Mosier Raumann she accepts not realizing the HUGE mistake she is making in this bargain.
Mosier Raumann is a horrible person, even without knowing his business, his cruel and abusive behavior (both mentally and physically) almost broken her mother apart, for her, she at least have the very Catholic school Mosier insists she go to, so she barely spends time with her "new" family. It means spending less time with her mother whom in a way she doesn't even know but it also means away from Mosier and his two twin sons Damon and Anders (a bit older than her) who do their father's bidding (or else they get beaten as well..).
Life isn't great, it's even quite depressing but when her mother is found dead of overdose things get from sad to catastrophic. It seems her stepfather had very specific idea about what's going to happen to her now and Ash's only grace is she has one month before her school graduation when her future becomes a total and absolute nightmare. Seeking the help from the only two people she has left in the world - First Father Joseph and then her mother's best friend and her own godfather - Gus Eger, she manages to escape but naturally she is on borrowed time until Monsier finds her and he WILL find her.
Though Gus' life wasn't any better when he was the makeup artist to the successful yet drug addicted Tigin, his life is so very different now that he has his own prince charming - Jock Souris. Jock is ex-military so he has his own ways of helping out. He starts with offering her a place to stay in a beautiful town house in Vermont. Only problem is, he is also renting the place to someone else - the supper attractive yet GRUMPY as heck Julian Ducharmes. Julian has his own past in security work, yet his past makes his suspicious of woman, and especially one he knows nothing about..
Julian might not want Ash there, but the beautiful house and it's surrounding as well as the special decor, her freedom to do as she please and a kitchen she can claim as her own as well as Bruno the Coonhound (Julian's dog) makes this place everything she could wish for. Yeah she would love to be at least friendly with Julian but building her OWN future and for now managing her present is something she enjoys. Life is mostly quite which means she has the time to learn a bit more about her mother through a journal she found in her mother's room after the funeral. It's an angry Teagan, resentful, abused, hopeless.. yet it's so much more. It's a mirror to everything Teagan endured and the reason she is where she is today. Teagan's story was SO heart breaking. It was AWFUL in so many ways and since we start this book with her funeral we see through her daughter's memories as well as her journal the so many bad choices she made and how she tried in her own way to make things better even if it never turned out the way she wished or planned.
The first third of the book we only get Ash's POV, but from there on, we start a dual POV between her and Julian (with a bit of Teagan's journal in between). It was such a fast pace read. I read till it was 3 a.m. with eyes burning only to sleep a few hours before I woke up to read it right till the end. There is a sort of hopelessness in this book when we start and throughout the book it changes little bit little until the "lessness" starts to fade and Ash starts to find her place, her freedom, her happiness in the new hope she is surrounded by. It's not only Gus and Jock it's also Julian and his sister. As Julian starts to find Ash too irresistible and makes his first move things shift quickly. They somehow find in each other the very thing they needed. A sort of security and peace. I really enjoyed seeing it happen little by little. From a grumpy Julian and a jumpy and unsure Ash to two people who love each other and are there for one another when they are in need.
Yet as Monsier gets closer with a bit of help from the FBI and mostly a very unexpected ally they find a way to a future together, one Ash can build for herself. She can more than just dream now, she can make those dreams a reality and more than that she can now say her farewell to her mother knowing so much more about her than she did while she was alive. The journal was the closure she never thought she'd have, yet besides giving her heart ache it also gave her answers and a sort of solace.
SUCH a beautifully written story. This series is such a special one. I really enjoy the way Katy connects these fairy tales to our modern times. At times it's more loosely connected than others but in the end we get a wonderful story, even if a sometimes quite dark. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
I kindly received this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
This book will be out 1 October. Pre-Order it now for 2.99$ (As of release day, it will cost $5.99).