Stella’s future was set, and it was a bright one. She was engaged to a man she adored, and was headed to law school in the fall. Tragically, her perfectly planned future ends just as it was beginning.
With no ties to family or friends, Stella finds herself alone in a new city, spiraling out of control. Her typical day comes to a close with her passed out on the floor; sometimes clothed.
Luckily, her new roommate, essentially a stranger, is dead set on getting Stella past her grief and back to functioning within society. Putting one foot in front of the other, she climbs up from the bottom of a bottle. Even with all her progress, Stella walks through life unfeeling, numb. Defiant, she sends out warning signals for the world to keep away. But, is that what she really wants?
With the steadfast help of a few tight knit friends, she gradually begins to feel again. She starts to savor the flavor of food again; lets herself notice how the handsome bartender glances at her. Still, after allowing herself a fling, she wonders if she will ever be able to let go of her shattered past, fully enjoy the present, or get over what she thought would be her perfect future and with the man who destroyed her heart.
A gripping and intriguing prologue introduce us to Stella going through a traumatic situation, but it’s not until we’re thoroughly entrenched in the story that we fully understand what’s going on in the beginning. (This happens in present time, then the rest of the book is the previous four years.)
Stella had everything going for her a loving fiance, a new start in Washington, D.C., starting law school; her future was seemingly full of happiness. That is until their first day in D.C., when her fiance Jaime, a new ATF agent, is killed in a car accident. The life she had envisioned was ripped from her in an instant.
Through the following months she spirals down through a torrent of grief. It’s only by the guidance of her roommate and Jaime’s friend, Patrick, that she even attempts to pull herself out. She spends the days and night thoroughly drunk as it’s the only way she can cope with the pain.
Time makes things tolerable. Time gives you perspective on events that shake your world to the core. Time allows you to move forward. But time doesn’t change the pain that sits in your gut.
It takes her years to even reach the point where she can get out of bed without being weighed down by grief. She defers from law school for a year to get over the brunt of her mourning. When she starts back she meets another law student named Millie, who she connects with. She also meets a mysterious and handsome bartender named George at her favorite bar, Finnegan’s, who she decides to embark on a friends with benefits arrangement with.
She and George begin the arrangement with the understanding that it’s just physical, no emotions, no pasts, no personal questions. Only it doesn’t stay like that for long. George begins to develop feelings for her and though she fights tooth and nail, Stella begins to have feelings for him as well.
“I want to see you at your worst. I want to see you all the time.” (George to Stella)
“It’s just that I love you and I can’t seem to get past it.” He smiled down at her. “You’re really hard to love, but even harder to get over.”
This book has been on my top tbr for a very long time. I was intrigued first by the badass cover and by the positive ratings that I was seeing. When I finally got my hands on a copy, I tore through it in one evening. I didn’t really know what to expect because the synopsis is pretty vague, which is understandable considering giving anything else away would be a big, fat spoiler, so I’m going to try to do this without giving much away.
The central focus of the story is Stella recovering from the loss of her fiance and trying to get on with her life and getting to the point where the prologue meets the present. I would say the trilogy focuses on the events that happen in the prologue and where they are going to go in the following books.
I was so caught up in Stella’s recovery that I didn’t even connect the dots for a few minute when we got to the end. I sat in shock for a while and had to reread the prologue and the last couple chapters. Pay close attention. This is one of those books that has subtle twists that you didn’t see coming and will knock you on your proverbial ass.
I appreciate the attention to detail and the painstakingly constructed pace. The way we go back to the very beginning allows us to truly feel what Stella is going through when the big twist comes and makes it all the more jaw droppingly shocking. For real! I am so thankful that the sequel is out, otherwise I may have had a heart attack.
There is a bit of a cliffhanger, but the second book is already out and the conclusion is due out in December, thank goodness. If you’re interested in emotional stories with a touch of mystery and romance I recommend By A Thread.