If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1) by Courtney Cole
Published: 7 February 2013
Pages: 220 (ebook)
Genre/s: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Review copy
24-year old Pax Tate is an asshole.
He’s a tattooed, rock-hard bad-boy with a bad attitude to match.
But he’s got his reasons.
His mother died when Pax was seven, leaving a hole in his heart filled with guilt although he doesn’t understand why. What he does know is that he and his dad are left alone and with more issues than they can count.
As Pax grew up, he tried to be the kid his father always wanted; the perfect golden boy, but it didn’t work. His dad couldn’t overcome his grief long enough to notice and Pax couldn’t keep up the impossible perfect façade.
So he slipped far, far from it.
Now, he uses drugs and women to cope with the ugliness, the black void that he doesn’t want to deal with. If he pretends that the emptiness isn’t there, then it isn’t, right?
And it’s never more apparent than when he meets Mila.
Sweet, beautiful Mila Hill is the fresh air to his hardened frown, the beauty to his ugly heart. He doesn’t know how to not hurt her, but he quickly realizes that he'd better figure it out because he needs her to breathe.
When memories of his mother’s death resurface from where he’s repressed them for so long, Mila is there to catch him when the guilt starts making sense. Mila is the one…the one who can save him from his broken troubled heart; from his issues, from the emptiness.
But only if he can stop being an asshole long enough to allow it.
He knows that. And he’s working on it.
But is that enough to make her stay?
When I read the first chapter of If You Stay I was completely, um, captivated. OK, to be honest I was equal parts shocked and intrigued. It begins with a rather graphic sex scene that pretty much sums up Pax's whole attitude to women, and I wasn't sure that this book would be for me.
It all changes rather quickly when Pax takes things one step too far and meets Mila - the quintessential good girl who is his complete opposite, and there's an instant attraction. It's definitely not insta-love, it's a far more physical attraction, but there's also the underlying fact that Pax has some serious baggage.
Although I liked Pax, and his struggles to come to terms with his past were more than admirable and made me very sympathetic towards him, I found it more difficult to connect with Mila. She's definitely sweet and perhaps a little naive, but she lacked that fire that I find appealing in female romantic leads - I wanted her to serve a little bit more back to Pax than she did for the majority of the book.
The plot itself is rather predictable, but as the reason behind Pax's behaviour comes to light, it's far more intense and gritty than I expected it would be. There are also some pretty hot smexy times, although there is one with 'accessories' (not THAT kind), that kinda had me tilting my head and wondering if it was actually safe and how the fuck you would clean that up properly.
If You Stay took me a little bit by surprise, because despite it not being in my normal reading genre, it has some aspects that are a little outside the 'normal' that make it a more memorable experience. It's a shame that I didn't feel the same connection to Mila that I did with Pax, but overall I really enjoyed it.