Length: 85,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Tiferet Design
You’ll make it out of here, Brian. I swear.
I had everything—school quarterback, popular with girls, and my dad was proud of me. I told myself it didn’t matter no one knew the real me. And then I nearly died. Landon saved my life. He’s the bravest guy I know. He came out a few years ago, proud and fierce, and he ran into gunfire to help others. Me, I’m a mess. Can’t even stand to be in a room with the curtains open. But here’s the thing about losing it all: You get a chance to start over and be someone new. Only how can I move on when the two shooters who attacked our school were never caught? And why do I feel like I’m still in the crosshairs?
Will you kiss me?
When I came across Brian Marshall,the hottest guy in school, dying on the cafeteria floor, I did what anyone would do. I tried to save him. His request surprised me, but I figured he needed comfort, so I kissed him on the forehead. When he survived and came back to school, he was broken in body and mind. He still needed me, and soon we were unlikely besties. But what I saw at school that day woke me up. I want to demand action on gun control, lead protests, raise my fist. I’ll tear the world down if I have to. And if I can get the man of my dreams and save the world at the same time? I’ll take it. Only I didn’t understand that the horror at Jefferson Waller High wasn’t over.
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Wow, this book covered a lot of ground and, at times, was not an easy read, but I'm still extremely glad that I read it.
Mass shootings are all too common these days, and we only ever really hear about the death toll and a few details as to the shooter's suspected motivations.
This book went deeper than that. Much, much deeper, mainly concentrating on the aftermath for the shell-shocked survivors.
In this story, Brian was a popular junior and quarterback of the football team. He was also secretly gay, afraid to let others see the true him, mainly due to his hateful, homophobic, conspiracy theory-believing father.
Landon was an out and proud, gay senior, on the cusp of graduating, when the unthinkable happened and over 40 of his fellow classmates and teachers lost their lives over the course of 8 terrifying minutes.
The boys had covertly liked one another for a while, but had never actually spoken, until Landon found Brian shot and bleeding out on the cafeteria floor while the shooting was still in progress.
For me, the feels truly began when Landon became Brian's support system upon returning to school, since Brian only felt safe when he was with Landon.
But Brian's PTSD was still very severe and I felt his thoughts on the situation were pretty spot on and realistic.
The funeral ended with four football players and two of Jake’s cousins carrying the coffin out on their shoulders. Jake’s mom and dad followed behind it, clutching each other. It was sort of unbearable.The main reason why Brian couldn't begin to heal in this story was due to the fact that the shooters were not immediately caught. So he was constantly on edge, never fully at ease, unless he was alone with Landon.
I don’t think that word means what you think it means.
That word, “unbearable,” was starting to lose its meaning. Because, in the end, what choice do we have but to bear it?
Brian was even so desperate that he began making lists of everyone at the school, trying to narrow down the identities of the two shooters, which eventually did pay off in the end.
One aspect of the story that completely shocked me was how Brian's (asshole) dad was *still* so pro-gun, after his own son was nearly murdered in a mass shooting. I can't imagine that level of fanaticism existing after such a close-to-home event happening to your very own child.
The book's main focus was *not* primarily on the romance, but that's not really what this story was about. With a subject matter this serious, I don't think it could, or even should, have been.
The story was pretty perfect as-written and I'd definitely suggest that everyone read it. It felt extremely realistic and relevant in today's at-times-insane world, where money from the NRA overrules basic common sense where gun laws are concerned.
As the story ended, it felt much more hopeful than I'd originally thought possible, as the boys were headed off to college together with an HEA on the horizon.
4.5 seriously-moving stars.
My ARC copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.
In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.
In 2018 Eli hopes to do more of the same, assuming they reschedule the apocalypse.
Her website is www.elieaston.com. You can email her at eli[at]elieaston.com.
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