Growing up in small town Belcrest, Maddy Jennings thought she was destined to be with her childhood love Trent Basso. Their friendship blossomed into love as they weaved in and out of each other’s lives, from school aged to young adulthood. During her complicated path with Trent, another love interest seems to be her constant. The problem is the other love interest is Trent’s older brother. Trent’s brother is bound to keep a promise to him even if it means keeping his distance from Maddy, but it doesn’t stop him from being a friend she can count on.
When Maddy returns to her hometown after two years for her brother’s wedding, she will have to face not only Trent but his brother as well. As the two Basso brothers fight to win her heart, she struggles to forgive her mom and accept her apology, in order to mend their relationship?
She must decide to either forfeit her happiness or tear a family apart.
I absolutely loved this book. Michelle did an amazing job in captivating my attention from the very beginning to the very end. I could not put the book down. She made me feel as if I was a part of the book. I felt the emotions that were poured into the story. I loved that she allowed me to feel every emotion that the characters felt. This book will have your emotions all over the place, at any given time.
Madeline (Maddie), Mackenna (Kenna), Trent, and Bryan have been friends since they were little and have pretty much became inseparable since. Their older brothers played football together and they used to have to wait around after school waiting for them since they couldn’t go home by themselves. There was no denying that Maddie has always had a crush on Trent. Even just as kids, they had some kind of connection to one another, everyone thought they would be married one day. The MASH games that she would play with Kenna after school while waiting for their brothers would prove it. Maddie would spend a lot of time after school at Trent’s house since her older brother Jack and Trent’s older brother were best friends. Being in a house full of boys, the Basso’s welcomed Maddie as part of her own. Their father was always on business trips and their mother was not usually home, so that left Maddie taking care of herself most of her time. She had to grow up pretty quickly at such a young age.
Maddie and Trent first admitted their feelings towards one another at the young age of 11 and started dating. That lasted all but 2 weeks. Trent moved on to other girls, but he and Maddie remained best friends. That’s the really good thing behind this all. No matter how many other girls Trent was seeing, he still remained best friends with Maddie. All the other girls hated her for it, but if they couldn’t accept it, they didn’t last, they usually didn’t though.
Maddie never had a normal childhood growing up. When Jack went away to college, her parents divorced, and her mom was never home, leaving her to care for herself most of the time. Her friends were her family and her support system.
Maddie and Trent dated on and off all through high school, but when it was time for college, Trent broke Maddie’s heart and wanted to explore the world of college. Trent wanted to pursue his dream of becoming a soccer star and reap the benefits from it. It was Gabe, Trent’s older brother who came to get Maddie out of her funk. The more time they spent together, the more their feelings for one another started to develop, but they would never act on it. Gabe made a promise to Trent and as much as it pained him, it had to be the one promise he could not break. Trent would come in and out of Maddie’s life, but always seemed break her heart, leaving Gabe to pick up the pieces. Maddie always took Trent back no matter how bad he broke her heart. She would always forgive him. Even when you think they’ve hit the bottom, she gave him another chance. It wasn’t until she saw Trent in his full element surrounded by people taking advantage of him. He was a real class A jerk towards her and didn’t think so. He made his decision and so did she. She left him that night, without even saying goodbye.
Maddie couldn’t face coming home because she couldn’t stomach the memories she would have to deal with. But Jack is getting married and she has no choice but to go home, so she takes her best friend Ian with her. She plans to avoid both of the Basso brothers or any drama for that matter, but that’s not likely since she is greeted by Gabe at the airport and he shares a rental car with her for the week. As much as she doesn’t want to, she wasn’t in the mood to argue with them and Ian’s bags weren’t going to fit in a compact car and she couldn’t afford the cost of an SUV. The drive back to her house was causing the memories to slowly return. The house she vowed to never return to was not the same house she left. Her mom completely transformed the house. She knew she did it for her, to help her not remember. Maddie knew her mom couldn’t afford it so she had a man in her life paying for things. Even after all these years, she hasn’t been able to forgive her mom, don’t think she ever will.
Jack has a whole week’s worth of events lined up. Maddie just wants this week to be over with so she can go back home to New York and not have to see people that will bring up the old memories she wants to never remember. She hasn’t seen or spoken to Trent since the day she walked out on him, and that is the one person she is afraid to see. She is still hurt by him and she doesn’t know what will happen when she sees him again. Gabe uses this week of car sharing to his advantage. His innocent flirting with Maddie has intensified, the more time they spend together. It confuses her at first; but it feels comforting, it feels natural, it feels right. Maddie is slowly starting to fall for Gabe, again.
While Maddie is battling her feelings for Gabe, Trent in back in town for the wedding, trying to win Maddie back. He realizes he messed up all those years and wants her back in his life. He tries to prove to her that he is a different man, a changed man. But Maddie knows what the outcome will be if she goes back with Trent. He will be will her for a bit, then when its convenient for him, he will leave her heartbroken yet again. She cannot do that to herself again. She is done getting her heart broken by Trent. She will not go down that road again. Maddie does not feel anything but friendship towards Trent, but he will not understand that. He is trying everything to get her back. He is confusing their friendship and it’s frustrating Gabe. Gabe felt as if though he was getting closer to being with Maddie, but Trent is trying to get her back as well. This is causing the ongoing tension between the brothers to escalate.
Maddie and her mom clear the air on their relationship. Her mom finally realizes what she did wrong while Maddie was growing up and now she is a changed person. She met someone who makes her wants to be better, someone who she loves. Maddie forgives her and they move forward and work on their new relationship. No one will replace the love of her father, but she can only try to get along with the new guy in her mom’s life. Maddie has no idea what she will do with Trent or Gabe. She knows Trent will break her heart again and Gabe, she can’t be with him because of Trent. A part of her heart loves both of them. Gabe has always been there for her when she needed him the most. He never let her down. Trent has always let her down, but the one important time she needed him, he was there and that’s the time that counted. But is she a reason to cause this family such a rift? Should such a close knit family even be fighting just because of her?
Who will Maddie choose? Will she choose Gabe, who has been there for her? Or will she choose Trent, who she thought she would be with since they were children? Or will she sacrifice her own happiness to keep this family together?
You would think reading from the beginning that Trent and Maddie would be the happy couple throughout the book. You would never have thought that they would be the on and off again couple. My heart broke for Maddie. Trent was such a selfish prick, always thinking of himself. Constantly breaking her heart and being with her for convenience. But I loved how they could always remain friends no matter what. Maddie’s strength throughout the difficult situations she was handed was amazing. I admire her for it. I don’t think I would have been able to handle it. I probably would have given up a long time ago. I absolutely loved Gabe and how he was always there for her. I respected him for keeping his loyalty towards Trent all those years. He could have acted on his feelings for Maddie a whole lot sooner, but he didn’t because of that one promise he made to him. Not a lot of guys would do that. Great job Michelle, looking forward to more of your books.
We pull down my street and I automatically feel like I'm going to throw up. Ian must notice because he reaches over, putting a hand on my leg. I look over at him and he smiles, letting me know he is there for me. I never told Ian the whole story of why I hate this town now. He never pushes me for details, always waiting until I am ready to tell him. That’s one of the reasons why I love him.
My house is the same brown, ranch-style brick that I remember. I assume Jack is keeping up the landscaping for her. Appearances are everything in this town.
There are no cars in the driveway so I don’t pull all the way up, instead stopping at the walkway to the house. I don’t get the warm welcome Gabe does; no one is coming out to see me. I put the car in park and put my hands in my lap, sighing. I look at the house and more memories flood my mind, all of them bad. They are the reason I hate this town, the reason I ran away from it.
Ian is already out of the car, banging on the back door and telling me to unlock it. I shake off my thoughts, looking for the unlock button. After I click it, the back door opens and Ian starts pulling out the bags.
“It’s like a band-aid, Maddy. You've just gotta tear it off,” he says from the back.
“I’m fine, Ian, but thank you.” Lying to people has become second nature lately.
“Let’s go, it’s hot. Please tell me your mom has air conditioning. I think my hair is already falling,” Ian complains. There is no way his hair could fall with all of the gel, mousse, and hair spray he has in it, but I don't bother telling him this.
"Of course we have air conditioning. I know you aren’t used to the country, but we do have modern conveniences,” I say, reaching around to grab my one bag.
“I’m just saying. It’s hard looking this good, Madeline.” He has three bags hanging from his arms and pulling one behind him, and is out of breath by the time we reach my doorstep. He only uses my full name when he is agitated with me.
I ring the doorbell since I don’t have a key anymore. No one answers. I should have known she wouldn’t be home when I got here. I told her three times when I would be arriving. God knows what is more important than me this time. I search the front steps, looking for the fake rock she has used for years to hide the key. Bingo! I grab the key, inserting it in the lock and open the door.
“Wow,” Ian says behind me.
I am speechless, unable to believe my eyes. The house has been completely remodeled from floor to ceiling. All of our furniture has been replaced with new modern furniture. The light oak tables are now glass. Our plaid couch is now a soft gray sofa with yellow armchairs on either side.
“Go,” Ian pushes me into the house, “it’s like 103 degrees out here.”
I fumble my way into the house that is now unrecognizable to me, and drop my bags by the door. I love my mom for doing this. It helps keep the bad memories at bay, but I assure myself it wasn’t done for my benefit. I wonder where she got the money; being in the designing world, I know these pieces cost a small fortune and aren't something an office assistant can afford.
“Your house is beautiful,” Ian says, shutting the front door and looking around the house, I assume for a vent to cool down. It’s hard to believe that Wisconsin summers can get so hot.
“This isn’t my house,” I say flatly, “not the one I grew up in.”
“I see where you get your style,” he says.
“I can assure you this is not my mother's doing. She must have hired someone. She has always been partial to more of a country theme,” I respond, still in awe over the changes to the interior of the house. Every aspect has been redone. Even the pictures from when Jack and I were little are now in modern frames.
“Whoever did it, it’s really nice,” he says.
I put Ian in Jack’s old room, which actually looks pretty much the same. His football trophies line the bookshelves with ribbons hanging below. The only difference I notice is that the twin-sized bed has been replaced with a queen. I am surprised the bedding has been washed, ready for Ian. I assumed I would be taking care of that when I got here.
I am happy to see my room has been redone. My daybed is gone, replaced by a queen as well. The walls are thankfully not still purple, but now a light blue with a chic new bedspread. All of my old furniture is gone and white furniture is now in its place. I throw myself on the bed, closing my eyes. Even with all new furniture, I can still feel the fear when I close my eyes and I am instantly transported back to that night. I open them quickly, not wanting to remember.
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Michelle Lynn has always been a reader, but her passion has become a full-blown addiction since her husband bought her a Kindle for Mother's Day. She's pretty sure that he regrets this on a regular basis. Especially when she has it propped up next to the stove while she cooks, which often results in a burnt dinner. Or when he loses sleep because the glow from the screen wakes him up when he rolls over at three in the morning. He does agree, however, that she uses this gift more than any other he has ever gotten her. She joking counters that, because of some of the steamy novels she reads, he also benefits more from this gift than any other he has gotten her. ;)
Michelle moved around the Midwest most of her life, transferring from school to school before settling down in the outskirts of Chicago ten years ago, where she now resides with her husband and two kids. She developed a love of reading at a young age, which helped lay the foundation for her passion to write. With the encouragement of her family, she finally sat down and wrote one of the many stories that have been floating around in her head. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can be found playing with her kids, talking to her mom on the phone, or hanging out with her family and friends. But after chasing around twin preschoolers all day, she always cherishes her relaxation time after putting the kids to bed.
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