on August 24, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Women, Family, Famous, Friends to Lovers, Performing Arts, Political, Romance, Second Chance Romance
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He's a troubled young actor, Hollywood's newest heartthrob, struggling with fame as the star of the latest superhero franchise. Through scandal after scandal, addiction on top of addiction, a flurry of paparazzi hunt him as he fights to conquer his demons.
She's a single mother, assistant manager at a grocery store, existing in monotony with her five-year-old daughter. Every day when she goes to work, lurid tabloids surround her, the face of a notorious bad boy haunting her from their covers.
A man and a woman, living vastly different lives, but that wasn't always the case. Once, they were just a boy and a girl who bonded over comic books and fell in love unexpectedly.
When Kennedy Garfield met Jonathan Cunningham back in high school, she knew he had all the makings of a tragic hero. With stars in his eyes, and her heart on her sleeve, the pair ran away together to follow their dreams.
But dreams, sometimes, turn into nightmares.
Now, years later, the only thing they share is a daughter—one who has no idea her father plays her favorite superhero. But Jonathan is desperate to make amends, and at the top of his list is the woman who gave up everything for him and the little girl he hasn't yet met.
“You’re the queen. I’m just a commoner.”
Oh my God, this book was just perfect! This is hands down second chance romance at its best. Definitely, an instant favorite and definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. Once I started this one I couldn’t stop, this was ALL THE FEELS! All of them, it was beautiful, it was raw, it was angsty, it was funny, it was romantic, it was sexy. All the things! Wow, JM Darhower truly hit this one out the park. I’m completely in love.
“It takes everything out of me, because endings are hard. Endings are fucking impossible… especially endings that remind me of a girl I’m trying damn hard not to think about.”
So, you’ve read the blurb. He’s a Hollywood superstar, she’s works in a supermarket. He’s a mess, she’s sad and bitter. They have this amazing history together. They also have a daughter. A daughter that doesn’t know her father because honestly, he’s been a fuck up for a while, he’s lost himself in a world of drugs and alcohol and the heroine made the decision of raising her daughter alone. At the point the story picks up, he is clean and sober and making amends, getting a second chance to slowly find his way back home.
“I need you to leave.” You look at me, stunned. “I need you to go and not come back until you get better,” I say. “I’m asking you… no, I’m begging you… don’t come back here like this again. She’s going to need a father, a real one, someone who can love her more than everything. There’s no place here for an addict. So, please… leave, Jonathan.”
“Jonathan always was a dreamer, walking around with stars in his eyes. Seeing that light dim as the drugs took over was one of the worst feelings in the world. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I tried and failed every single time. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from it all, it’s that we have to be our own heroes. No guy in a costume is coming to save us. We have to save ourselves.”
The two main characters are seriously amazing. Kennedy is smart, sassy and so strong. She’s one remarkable woman. And Jonathan, oh Jonathan, so desperate for love and so desperate for redemption and forgiveness. It’s impossible not to like him. And it’s impossible not to feel their love, their chemistry and not to root for them to end up together.
“I’m sorry for the way I hurt you,” he says. “Sorry for everything I did that led us to this point. And I get it, you know, if you hate me. Wouldn’t blame you at all. But I just need to tell you… I need you to know… that even when I was completely fucked up, I never once stopped loving you.”
“Match made in heaven.” “Or hell. Depends on who you ask.” “You,” he says. “I’m asking you.” “I’d say a bit of both, then. We were fire and gasoline. We burned hot for a long time.”
Let me tell you something. I live for second chance romances. It’s without a doubt in my top tropes. And one of the things that make a second chance great is how you tell that back story. How you convey to the reader that love that these characters use to have for each other in the past. And in this book, this was executed perfectly. The way the author intertwined the present with the past is perfection, and one of my favorite things about this book. It was like little snippets, like little diary entries written in second person and strategically placed that just hooked you to the story so much more. Seamless. Perfection.
“And you don’t know this, but that girl? The one left outside of that school alone? She’s sitting there writing about you. You have all the makings of a modern-day tragic hero, and she’s never felt so compelled to explore somebody’s story before… even if that’s kind of creepy, ugh.”
“And you don’t know this, but that girl? She realizes, as your car speeds away, that she’s desperately falling in love with you. Her body’s sore, and her chest aches, her heart pounding wildly. She hasn’t had a moment of sleep, but that matters not a bit. She’s sky-high, and nothing can bring her down from this euphoria—not even when a nosy neighbor tells her father all about the blue Porsche that spent the night parked in the driveway. Not even when he notices the love bites around her neck from your frantic lips. Not even when he threatens to take your manhood and tells her she’s grounded for the rest of her life. Because the night that girl just spent with you? Worth it.”
“You don’t know this, but that girl? As she stands there, staring at you, seeing the light in your eyes and feeling so much love in her heart, she would’ve done anything you asked. Anything. She would’ve climbed any mountain and dug any hole. She would’ve lied, cheated, and stolen. That girl would’ve promised you forever. As long as you love her, for as long as you care, she’s yours. So walking to the park with you and climbing in that Porsche? Easiest decision she’s ever made.”
Like I said, this story is perfect. So unlike anything else I’ve read. The author also does an amazing job at exposing the not so glamorous side of Hollywood. The parties, the exploitation, the drugs, the influences from other people.
“He was the dreamer. The doer. The believer. When he wasn’t high, when he wasn’t drunk, when he wasn’t so utterly screwed up, I saw something in him, something I see when I look at Maddie. The two of them, they have the same soul, they live with the same heart. And that scares the daylights out of me.”
This book is super angsty, it just has to be given the backstory and the subject matter.
“You don’t know this, but that woman? Even as she smiles, she’s utterly terrified. Your love is more than enough for her, but she feels pieces of it slipping away. Something inside of her is disintegrating. Her dream. She’s losing it. She came here with you, not quite realizing what you were going through. You felt invisible, and you were desperate for an audience, but where does that leave your love? Because the more people who see you, it seems, the less you see her. And she can’t even tell her story now, not the way she wants, because her voice has been stolen and no one will ever get the chance to read her words.”
“You’re the caterpillar that went into the cocoon and emerged a glorious butterfly, but I’m the reminder that butterflies don’t stick around long, a few weeks at most before they’re gone.”
“Your dream has become my nightmare, and I’m begging you to let me wake up.”
But it’s also super romantic. These two main characters have such an amazing chemistry and you can tell they’re just destined to be with each other.
“I just wanted to know how long it took you to move on.”
“Oh, well, that’s an easy one,” he says. “It hasn’t happened.”
“You love me?” “More than anything,” you say. “More than drama club and dress rehearsals and Julius Caesar. More than annoying the shit out of Hastings. More than the goddamn park down the road. Hell, even more than I loved punching my father. I didn’t stick around here so long for any of that. I stayed for you. And if me loving you is enough—” “It is,” she says. “So come along,” you say. “Run away with me, baby.”
He turns to me as he says, “Thank you, K.”
“What are you thanking me for?”
“Giving me a second chance,” he says. “And a third, and a forth, and a fifth…”
“And a twentieth.”
He laughs lightly. “And a twentieth.”
“I don’t want to keep hurting you,” he whispers. “I never wanted to hurt you.”
“I know.” I push him back on the bed just enough to crawl onto his lap. My hands frame his face as I make him look at me. “I know, Jonathan. You’ve always wanted to make me feel good.”
“Because I love you,” he says.
“More than whiskey?” I ask.
“More than whiskey,” he agrees.
“More than cocaine.” “More than models-slash-actresses?”
“I don’t even like them most days. But I love you. I swear to fuck, I’ve loved you since before my eighteenth birthday when we sat on your father’s couch and watched me play dead on television.”
“My favorite thing you’ve ever done,” I whisper, kissing him. “You still owe me that autograph, dead kid on Law & Order.”
Oh, and let’s not forget Maddie, their daughter. She was so beautiful and such an amazing character. Experiencing Jonathan’s connection with her, both through his eyes and Kennedy’s was amazing.
“I mourn the years they lost, the time that was wasted, the love that maybe just wasn’t quite enough to overcome his demons sooner. Every smile they share today is the product of years of tears, of years of fighting and struggling and hoping and mourning but never, ever, ever quitting or giving up, because we’re here. And maybe it won’t last, I don’t know. Maybe tomorrow something will happen and the tears will come back, but I’m grateful for the moment, knowing he loves her more than anything.”
I don’t know what else to say. I want to say so much and yet I want to say nothing. I want you to read this one and experience it the way I did. I was searching for epic and absolutely found it in this one. I wholeheartedly recommend this one. It’s perfection in my eyes!
“Never make someone else the main character in your own story.”
**An ARC was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review**