HARDER by Robin York
Caroline still dreams about West. His warm skin, his taut muscles, his hand sliding down her stomach. Then she wakes up and she’s back to reality: West is gone. And before he left, he broke her heart.
Then, out of the blue, West calls in crisis. A tragedy has hit his family—a family that’s already a fractured mess. Caroline knows what she has to do. Without discussion, without stopping to think, she’s on a plane, flying to his side to support him in any way he needs.
They’re together again, but things are totally different. West looks edgy, angry at the world. Caroline doesn’t fit in. She should be back in Iowa, finalizing her civil suit against the ex-boyfriend who posted their explicit pictures on a revenge porn website. But here she is. Deeply into West, wrapped up in him, in love with him. Still.
HARDER is an appropriate title to this continuation of Caroline and West’s story. I didn’t think it was possible to get “harder” after Deeper, but I was wrong.
When Deeper ended, West had left college to return home and deal with the fallout of his parents actions. Going home breaks West. Not so much because he has to deal with his inconsolable mother and wary little sister, but because of everything he had to leave behind. Now, his dreams and the life he had hoped for are all but forgotten. It’s heartbreaking to find the guy who did pretty much anything to take care of his family and manage his dreams lose hope. And when West loses hope, the essence of who is is gone.
Caroline, left behind by West, has to figure out a way to keep moving forward — even though she feels like breaking. But Caroline has known true torment; She only started living again because of West. And when he reaches out to her, knowing he needs her, she goes to him. No matter how far he pushes her – or how far he pushes her away — Caroline knows West needs her. She refuses to let West deal with this issues by himself.
Despite their often broken and sometimes combative relationship, Caroline and West manage to fight their way into creating a home for not only West, but for his little sister and Caroline, too. It’s not easy, but they are able to prove that together they can go after their dreams while supporting each other and providing someplace safe and stable for West’s sister.
If you like your New Adult romance full of angst, this is chock full of it. West’s broodiness often had me on edge. I was never really sure of what he might do or say. But at the other end, Caroline was a fighter and her fighter spirit helped carry me forward and kept me invested on seeing these two get their happily ever after.
Robin York is one of my favorite New Adult voices. She creates an emotional current that runs through her story, making it hard for the reader to turn away no matter how difficult the subject matter might be. The characters and the storyline hold onto you until the very last page.
Shannon Patel can often be found at the hockey rink with her kindle in hand. Check out her reviews at Cocktails and Books [http://www.cocktailsandbooks.com], and connect with her on Facebook [http://www.facebook.com/cocktailsandbooks] and Twitter [http://www.twitter.com/cocktailsnbooks].
HARDER by Robin York/Bantam/July 1