The past week I had very little time to read, I was focused on moving to my new apartment (yeah, I've noticed I JUST recently moved to a new place.. turns out another change was needed..) anyhow.. it also meant I barely had time or energy (mental and physical) to read. Today I felt as though I got myself back. Basically I sat and read the whole book today. With a few breaks (naturally one needs to eat, help a friend etc). There's a part in the book where Alia tells Nate he should meditate and she explains the method - thinking about it, I realized that my reading IS a sort of meditating. In a way I also focus on my breathing while reading. On how calm I am - when the author doesn't shred my heart to pieces that is! lucky me this book was heart shredding free even though it wasn't free of heart ache!
So let's get back to the book! Alia and Nate met for the first time in a picnic organized by Mira and Jake (the couple from the previous book - which I also ABSOLUTELY loved). But though Alia is interested in the sexy confident Nate she does what she always does - puts her personal wants aside and try to match him to her sister Becca. The second her sister sits with them, she excuses herself and allows the romance to follow. Yet it all goes wrong horribly and Alia feel totally guilty of her deeds.
So when Jake, her new boss at a veteran retreat, goes for a two week holiday and leavs her the PT in charge, also to treat Nate, she isn't sure how to deal with the situation. Jake only knows Nate and Becca briefly dated not the whole gruesome truth.. Yet Alia is determined to stay professional even if putting her hands on Nate makes her question her resolve. As their attraction for one another grows she is also unsure how to deal with the past and especially the unrealistic future. But more importantly - how can she really ASK for someone's love and support when all she knows is how to give.
Nate enlisted to the military solely to pay for his college loans. He had bigger hopes in life, but when he survives a blast his best friend didn't he is lost in grief and constant pain. When an opportunity arrives to do something RIGHT for a change, he stops his pain medication "cold turkey" and comes to Jake's veteran retreat in hope he can better himself. When he sees Alia he isn't impressed, he doesn't want her help and mostly he can't and won't TRUST her. He had enough a year and a half ago when he had to deal with her and her sister. Yet he can't deny the way he is attracted to her, not just physically but on other levels. As they spend time together he realizes how much he enjoys her company and had been from the beginning, he is also aware of how much of help she is with his pain, what she achieves no one had and he become depended on her like his pain killers - but it's different, she has to offer so much more! Though she tries to pull away from him, he won't let her go, not as his therapist and not as a friend. Yet time is running out, he has a promise he intends to keep.
I loved the build up of the romance, loved the whole way they got together from the beginning, even though what she and Becca did was WRONG, it was done out of "pure" intentions. Aila was trying to do the best she could for her sister, for the new boyfriend she found for her, and yet it crumbled as she started to fall in love with him herself following some very poor decisions she and her sister made. I got all of them, the situation they were in. I felt bad for Nate and how he was deceived and yet he is such a strong character, even though he missed a few clues, on the retreat when he had time to think and reflect he realized the whole truth of it almost without Alia explaining it to him. Alia was in a different place entirely, she had quite the struggle, she loved Nate yet couldn't confess to him, not only because he doesn't trust her.. and seeing him everyday, touching him, is messing with her head. She was never one to act upon the things she needed, she was always the one to take care of others which is exactly the place she puts herself were Nate is concerned yet it doesn't work, not when he is as attracted to her as she is to him..
I loved getting more of Jake. He came such a huge way from how he started in the previous installment. I DO think you can read this one as a stand alone novel, because him and Mira getting a HEA is pretty obvious and besides that there is little mention of her and their son Sam. But I gotta say, I recommend them BOTH so for order's sake, start with "Hold on Tight" before you grab this one :)
I wonder if the next book in the series is going to be of Becca. I feel she has her own story to tell. Not concerning Nate, but in general, she had a difficult life even though she had a sister who took care of her like a mother and yet also remained her best friend.
HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 229 pages, 26 December 2015 / On GoodReads