I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Kidnapped and locked in a basement for six years, Gabriel managed to physically escape but years later as an adult, he is still somewhat mentally in that dark place.
Ellie lost her mother young and with a disinterested father, she slipped through the cracks.
Two lonely souls are about to connect.
Gabriel, a boy who hadn't let himself forget what love felt like, and me, a girl who had made sure I did not remember.
With dueling pov chapters, this New Adult story deals with very dark issues but bathed in a very hopeful light. We are given the facts, Gabriel hates to be touched because of the abuse he suffered from his captivity and Ellie feels no personal value because of her father's neglect (she also experienced child abuse but takes awhile to acknowledge it as such). When Gabriel sees her at the strip club, he instantly feels she doesn't belong there and when Ellie hears he wants to hire her to help him grow accustomed to touch, she doesn't feel good enough for him. With a forced to spend time together occurrence happening, we get a lot of pushing and pulling.
While the facts and backgrounds given to our two leads are deep and dark, the author coated Gabriel with an almost angelic, optimistic light. He feels deeply for Ellie pretty immediately and without a lot of interaction between them, I wasn't quite sure why he fell so fast. Ellie's feelings for Gabriel were a bit more understandable as it was clear that he was the first man to ever show her respect. This had a very New Adult feel, with a wide-eyed young adult love, that my older (possibly too cynical) self couldn't quite follow. Gabriel's issue of not liking to be touched seemed to be gotten over pretty quickly. The work and meat of their relationship seemed to be left out in favor of a more airy fairy insta-love. Although, I did appreciate how, even kind of rushed towards the end, the author showed Ellie needed to do the personal work on herself, instead of being instantly cured by Gabriel's love.
This story was a bit uneven with its heavy topics but fluffy feel. The secondary characters were worked in well but their relationships with the leads didn't always feel fully flushed out. The author obviously wanted the deep emotions giving her characters such pasts would do but didn't give us the heavy lifting; it ending up feeling insubstantial at times.
This was a little slower moving but the often not seen more sensitive hero and heroine who needs to complete herself was appreciated. The steam factor is there at times but the very few sex scenes are safely glossed over with a more rose petals feel. If you're a New Adult fan, this will probably hit a sweet spot for you.
"I'm still not the right girl."
"I still don't agree."