Title: Hell Without You
Author: Ranae Rose
Release Date: September 5, 2013
Time changes everything, except what’s meant to be.
Seven years is a long time – long enough to transform Clementine from a small-town teenager with a broken heart into a woman ready to take on the world, but not long enough to make her forget about the man she was never supposed to see again. A temporary return to tiny Willow Heights thrusts her back into Donovan’s life and home, unearthing heartbreak and obsession that have stood the test of time.
He left seven years ago too, for war and other things Clementine can only imagine. Coming back to the town where he grew up in the shadow of poverty and drug addiction makes no sense, and neither do Clementine’s feelings for him. He could never forgive her for leaving, could he? Even if she had no choice.
Now, she has the freedom to choose … and so does he. Every day in Willow Heights makes it clearer: all he ever really wanted was her, and nothing will change that. Not even a taste of the hell that drove them apart in the first place.
Clementine left her home in Willow Heights behind years ago. She ran far and fast and never planned on returning. She went off to college to make something or herself, to build a life that was far from the pain and heartache that haunted her in her hometown. When Clementine left, Donovan was heartbroken. Lacking direction, he joined the military and went to war where his view of life changed irreparably. Years have passed and time finds Clementine returning to Willow Heights and running into the one person she never stopped loving.
“She hadn’t counted on him appearing and shaking the foundations of her determination, dragging her back into the past like a riptide snaring a weak swimmer.”
When Clementine and Donovan meet again the heat between them is obvious. Time has not dulled the spark between them and both try to maintain their distance and protect their hearts. After all, Clementine wasn’t planning to stay. She is applying for jobs outside of Willow Heights, while Donovan has just purchased a home and owns his own business in town. This battle between their hearts and their heads was what pulled me into this story right away. I could feel the connection between the characters but I also completely understood their hesitancy with the future still so uncertain. Ranae Rose did a great job portraying these conflicting feelings and really making the reader feel a part of the characters’ emotional struggles.
“The kind of love that waits for seven years without changing is the kind of love that makes you stupid, sometimes.”
I wondered from the beginning why exactly Clementine ran to begin with. We were given hints throughout the story and I hated the picture that was forming in my mind. When we finally do find out the truth behind why Clementine left and walked away from Donovan, my heart broke for both of them. Ranae had crafted such beautifully complex characters that I couldn’t help but love. Their pain was palpable, as was their incredible love for one another. Their story made me run the full range of emotions and left me wishing that we get to see more of Clementine and Donovan in the future!
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