Title – Because of You
Author – Laura Ward
Publication Date – May 25, 2018
Series – Not Yet #4
All Ricky Martinez knows of life is loss, loyalty, and family.
When his father became a quadriplegic after breaking his neck saving a drowning girl, Ricky gave up his dreams of playing football at a big college to stay home and take care of his family. His new dream? Find the girl who caused his father’s injury and get justice.
Because of her, his family lost everything.
All Aveline Gerard knows of life is a quiet, protective love.
Homeschooled ever since her accident eighteen years ago, Aveline’s parents, both deaf, have kept her safe the only way they know how—sheltered, and alone. Aveline’s deepest desire? To experience life in all its loud and messy glory, and the tattooed guy in her first college class is all of those things.
Because of him, her life is finally beginning.
But fate has a wicked sense of justice and when Ricky realizes the sweet, shy girl in his class is the one who wrecked his family, will he be able to walk away? Or will the bitter rage inside cause him to make the biggest mistake of his life?
Because of them, the pain of two families will finally collide.
If you’ve kept up with Laura Ward’s Not yet series as I have, then I’m sure that you’ve been dying to get a look into Ricky’s life. He’s always been incredibly secretive with his background which resulted in my curiosity growing a tremendous amount throughout each story that has been told already. With the release of Because of You, I’ve finally gotten that glimpse into his home life and so much is understood about his character. This interconnected standalone was filled with emotional scenes that delved into the power of forgiveness, selflessness, and the all-time question of how our environment impacts the person we become.
“Without the life-altering pain and responsibility that society bestowed upon my family, who would I have become?”
For those who may not have been introduced to his character previously, Ricky starts off the story as a very jaded character. He has been dealt a horrible hand in life and all that he is left with is bitterness and a desire for revenge and retribution. However, I couldn’t help but fall in love with him due to his loyalty to his family. He is very close to his mother, sisters, and father; everything he does and every choice he makes is to make their lives as easy as he can. With dedication and protectiveness like that, I couldn’t have asked for a better hero of the story. Furthermore, the heroine that Ward chooses for Because of You was one that left me in awe time and time again. Like Ricky, she had been dealt a rough hand in some regards, yet was able to overcome them due to her social environment. Together, Ricky and Aveline were complementary in every sense of the word, even when they couldn’t realize it. Where he had the rough interior, she was trusting and innocent to much of the world. Ricky was free to live his live, confined only by his social status where Aveline had the resources to do and be anything, but could not find independence from her overbearing parents. I loved watching each of them help to mold the other, while also forcing them to grow and mature as the pages turned.
“Now sacrifices had to be made. Because the monster inside me won. And when it did, a butterfly lost her wings.”
Laura Ward is such a gifted writer that I tend to enjoy every novel she delivers. They’re filled with warm-hearted, lovable characters that are incredibly well developed. She doesn’t just dictate a story to you; Ward invites you into the lives of her individuals, causing you to feel and experience everything right alongside them. Because of You surprised me in all the best ways with the storytelling and depth of emotion present. I laughed, I cried, and my heart swarmed with butterflies as I progressed throughout. If you haven’t picked up the series yet, or if you’re just in the mood for a transforming read, Because of You is sure to deliver on everything you could want in a romance!
He circled the bike, standing in front of me, arms crossed over his chest. “What’d you think of that lecture, mariposa?”
My eyes slid to the side, the floor, the ceiling. A slow burn traveled up my neck, settling on my cheeks. “It was… interesting, Freud, you know…” I laughed, a weird, awkward, uncomfortable sound escaping my lips. God, I sounded like a freak. Get it together, girl. Instead of wringing my hands together, I pushed my glasses higher up on my nose.
Ricky looked down at me, his eyes crinkling, and lips curved. “Interesting, huh?”
My hands shot out to the sides, “I’m sure you know all about that stuff… the stages and sex and… yeah.” I blew out a breath, my cheeks puffing, in what I was sure was the sexiest look I’d managed to pull off yet. “I’ve only done some light reading. That was new to me and frankly, a bit uncomfortable to hear around you because of your general hotness and all.”
Did I say light reading?
Oh. My. God.
Ricky threw his head back and chortled. “You are the cutest damn thing I’ve ever seen.” His tongue darted out to lick his bottom lip. He took the paper and pen from my hand, tossing them onto the floor. “I won’t touch you here. Although, I’ll admit it’s probably my biggest fantasy, but you aren’t ready for that.”
Bending down, he picked me up, his hands lifting under my ass until I wrapped my legs around his waist. “You’re so tiny.” He smirked, his eyes focused on my lips.
I took off my glasses, placing them on the metal tool shelf next to us. My body shook, and I knew Ricky felt it when his grip on me tightened.
“I won’t hurt you, mariposa. You have my word that I’ll protect you. I’m not a good man, but I’ll be good to you.” He looked into my eyes, his warm brown orbs like melted chocolate.
“You are a good man. I wish you saw yourself like I see you.” My words pled, begging him to hear me.
Closing his eyes and shutting me out, he pressed his forehead to mine. “I need you,” he whispered. “I’ve never needed anyone like I need you. You’re open and vulnerable, kind and innocent. You’re unlike any girl I’ve ever met, and all I want to do is learn more about you. Understand all the parts that make you whole.”
His words sounded stricken and raw, but I absorbed them, drawing them into my heart. I didn’t know if he meant that he needed me physically or emotionally, but either way I was his.
“I need you, too.” I kissed his lips, a light sweet peck. “I’ve already learned and grown from being near you. You’re strong and loyal. The way you take care of your family has captivated me. And the way you make me feel is addictive.” I kissed him again, longer, and he groaned, one hand pressing into my back and one twisting in my hair.
My mouth opened, tongue peeking out to find his. Meeting, touching, and tangling as we moaned in unison. My hands sought his beautiful hair and I wrapped the long strands around my fingers, hoping that I would weave myself into him, his life, and his heart.
This complicated, gorgeous man, that thought he didn’t deserve happiness or dreams or good in his life.
I’d had a glimpse inside, something I believed was a rarity. And Ricky deserved all the beauty the world had to bring. I wasn’t sure I was the person who could give that to him.
But I sure wanted to try.
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Don’t Miss the Rest of the Series!
Not Yet (Not Yet #1)
Until Now (Not Yet #2)
Someday Soon (Not Yet #3)
USA Today bestselling author, Laura Ward, writes sweet and sexy stories that will hopefully make you look at the world in a different way. Her books include the Not Yet series: Not Yet, Until Now, Someday Soon, and Because of You. Her Contemporary Romance standalone is titled, Past Heaven. She is also the co-author of the College Bound series: The Pledge, The Color of Us, and The Sound of Your Heart (Releasing July 13, 2018.) Laura lives in Maryland with her loud and very loving three children and husband. She married her college sweetheart and is endlessly grateful for the support he has given her through all their years together, and especially toward her dream of writing books. When not picking up toy trucks, driving to lacrosse practice, or checking spelling homework, Laura is writing or reading romance novels.