Title: Beauty in the Ashes
Author: Micalea Smeltzer
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Some stories are a fairytale…but this isn’t one.
Caelan Gregory’s life fell apart the night he went home and opened the door to find his whole family murdered. Since then, his life has held no meaning. He’s angry. He’s bitter. He’s barely human anymore. There’s nothing left to remind him of the straight A student, and football quarterback he once was…but he wasn’t a good person then, and he’s certainly not a good person now. He’s retreated into a world where all that exists is numbness and his passion for painting.
When Sutton Hale moves into the apartment across the hall from Caelan she’s not prepared for her reaction to him. Something in his broken blue eyes calls to her—after all she’s always had an irrational need to fix everything.
But Caelan doesn’t do relationships or feelings. He does drugs and alcohol. However, he can’t ignore his desire to get to know the raven-haired woman across the hall.
Two broken souls trying to mend one another.
But not everything can be fixed.
In the end, Caelan and Sutton will have to learn that there is beauty in the ashes.
Micalea Smeltzer has absolutely slayed me! Beauty in the Ashes is without a doubt one of my favorite books of all time. Writing a review that does this novel justice seems almost impossible because I honestly don’t know what to say to describe my experience with this beautiful story. Just as our lives are all incredibly unique, this book will touch every reader in a different way. For me, reading Sutton and Caelan’s journey was incredibly eye-opening as I grew to recognize pieces of myself in these characters that I never even realized existed. The writing was exquisite, perfectly capturing the haunting emotions and dizzying whirlwind of falling in love at rock bottom. Pulling me in from the very first page and holding me captive until the last, every moment of Sutton and Caelan’s powerful journey resonated through me as I read this inimitable story.
“He was broken. Life will do that to you— it toys with you, pushing you to your limits, waiting to see what it takes to make you snap.”
Both survivors of brutal, bloody and life-altering tragedy, Caelan and Sutton were connected by an unspoken understanding of one another’s darkest secrets and deepest pain – their souls each recognizing the other as a kindred spirit. In addition to the undeniable connection this couple shared, they also exuded a sizzling chemistry that only made this novel that much more addictive. Filled with soaring highs and devastating lows that constantly threatened to consume them both, Caelan and Sutton’s relationship was equal parts promising and tragic, destructive and thrilling. I found myself utterly overwhelmed by the emotions Micalea Smeltzer so expertly infused into this story. There were several moments where I came close to launching my iPad across the room because every single time the characters stumbled I was right there falling down beside them.
“The thing about healing is it’s hard. Really fucking hard. Impossible sometimes. But it’s up to us to let it happen. Some of the worst scars we carry are from ourselves and our own self-doubt— we’re our own worst critic and biggest bully.”
Secondary characters can often be incredibly telling about the strength of a story. If an author can move beyond just making me fall in love with the hero and heroine and manage to cultivate an attachment between the secondary characters and the reader, then they’ve gone above and beyond in weaving their magic and Micalea Smeltzer has unquestionably managed this and so more. Filled with secondary characters that brought levity, heart and impossible hope to this otherwise dark story, this stunning novel left me aching to know the personal stories of every single character we met along Sutton and Caelan’s journey. And even some we never really got to meet. Every detail of this couple’s rollercoaster ride was carefully crafted to snag a tight grip on the reader’s heart from the very beginning and hold onto it long after the final page had been turned and that definitely included the colorful cast of characters that made this fictional world feel so complete.
“I knew what it was like to remember things better left buried. Each time you recalled them, another piece of you died.”
One of things I’ve come to love about this novel is the unexpected direction in which Micalea Smeltzer took this story. For a while I didn’t understand where Caelan and Sutton’s journey was headed, mostly because it wasn’t what I would have predicted and to be honest, the ending took me by complete surprise. However, looking back on the storyline as a whole, I am absolutely content. Happy even. Nothing about Sutton and Caelan’s story was formulaic or predictable so I both respect and admire an ending that stayed so true to the characters and the lives they had led. Plus, that epilogue absolutely lifted my heart to incredible heights and filled me with a sense of peace. Beauty in the Ashes brought me to tears, both those of heartache and hurt and some of sweet relief and breathtaking hope. Micaela Smeltzer has truly outdone herself with this novel and I am left in complete awe of her exemplary storytelling abilities and her beautiful gift for creating and nurturing deeply emotional connections with her readers. Do not miss out on this book. Beauty in the Ashes is hands down an absolute must read!
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Micalea Smeltzer is a bestselling Young and New Adult author from Winchester, Virginia. She’s always working on her next book, and when she has spare time she loves to read and spend time with her family.