Title: If You Stay
Author: Courtney Cole
Series: Beautifully Broken #1
Release Date: April 16, 2013
24-year old Pax Tate is an asshole.
He’s a tattooed, rock-hard bad-boy with a bad attitude to match.
But he’s got his reasons.
His mother died when Pax was seven, leaving a hole in his heart filled with guilt although he doesn’t understand why. What he does know is that he and his dad are left alone and with more issues than they can count.
As Pax grew up, he tried to be the kid his father always wanted; the perfect golden boy, but it didn’t work. His dad couldn’t overcome his grief long enough to notice and Pax couldn’t keep up the impossible perfect façade.
So he slipped far, far from it.
Now, he uses drugs and women to cope with the ugliness, the black void that he doesn’t want to deal with. If he pretends that the emptiness isn’t there, then it isn’t, right?
And it’s never more apparent than when he meets Mila.
Sweet, beautiful Mila Hill is the fresh air to his hardened frown, the beauty to his ugly heart. He doesn’t know how to not hurt her, but he quickly realizes that he’s got to figure it out because he needs her to breathe.
When memories of his mother’s death resurface from where he’s repressed them for so long, Mila is there to catch him when the guilt starts making sense. Mila is the one…the one who can save him from his broken troubled heart; from his issues, from the emptiness.
But only if he can stop being an asshole long enough to allow it.
He knows that. And he’s working on it.
But is that enough to make her stay?
Courtney Cole knows how to begin a story. And she doesn’t pull any punches. Right from the start she introduces us to the gritty, uncaring, self-absorbed asshole that is Pax Tate. I entered this story wondering who the hell Pax Tate was and what on earth had him so messed up. Seriously. Could anyone be more self-destructive? But then we meet Mila. Mila is sweet, kind, artistic and the owner of a loss-induced broken heart. She is trying desperately to find happiness again. She is pretty much the polar opposite of Pax and my connection to her was instant. Due to their drastically different personalities and conflicting outlooks on life, Mila and Pax’s relationship became of great interest to me and their journey was something I had to be a part of.
I love the storyline of If You Stay. Two broken souls, one playing it safe while the other is living in oblivion. While they both had pasts they needed to face, their biggest obstacles were themselves. They both struggled with their own demons. Pieces of their pasts have left them damaged, untrusting and unable to move forward. Watching their contrasting approaches to living life was highly emotional. Their interactions were electrically charged with conflict, angst, devastation, want, uncertainty, hope and an unwavering attraction that allowed for a breathtaking story. Their struggle to find peace and healing was moving and Courtney Cole told it flawlessly.
I adored the characters! Pax’s transformation over the course of the story is incredible. His setbacks were real, his emotions raw and sometimes downright excruciating, but they gave his character life and made him someone worth rooting for. Mila is everything I love in a female lead. She is kind and compassionate, driven and dedicated and honest. She knows what she wants but doesn’t step on other people to get there. Most importantly, she wasn’t fooled by easy words and unproven promises. There are a lot of female characters out there who swoon at every “I’m sorry” but Mila isn’t one of them. She needs actions. Tangible proof that you’re really invested. I loved that about her.
If You Stay was a powerful story about a life teetering on the edge of destruction and the decision to accept help. Over the course of Pax and Mila’s journey my heart was repeatedly broken, but it was just as easily filled with warmth and the promise of something better. Courtney Cole has given life to some incredible characters that will quickly imprint themselves on you. She has written a beautiful story that will tug on your heartstrings and stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.
Add to Goodreads
Check out the rest of the Beautifully Broken series:
If You Leave (Beautifully Broken #2)
Until We Burn (Beautifully Broken #2.5)
Before We Fall (Beautifully Broken #3)
Until We Fly (Beautifully Broken #4)
My Peace (Beautifully Broken #5)