Tuesday, April 30, 2019

ARC Review: If We Could Go Back by Cara Dee

If We Could Go Back
My sister asked me if I could stand the sight my own reflection, if I’d caused enough damage yet, but I didn’t see myself when I looked into the mirror. I saw Kieran standing behind me, pressing a kiss to my shoulder while he undid my belt. I saw everything I wanted that I couldn’t have. Not unless I was prepared to hurt everyone around me.

Kieran was in a similar situation.

Were we monsters or men? Were they one and the same? Did we give a flying f—hell. We did care. Just not enough to stop, not enough to walk away, and I knew we constantly asked ourselves the same question because of it. If we could go back to when we met on the train…if we could erase the deceit, erase our first hello…would we?

Jewel's rating:

"We met on the way."

I've been asked just how well If We Could Go Back stands alone, among the Camassia Cove series, so I'll address that first. It stands alone very well. Cara Dee is pretty good about keeping her stories self contained, even though there are character crossovers in her books. Camassia Cove isn't that big, so it's no surprise that characters from one book will wander through some of the others. Even still, If We Could Go Back stands alone better than most.

Neither Bennett, nor Kieran appear in the other books (that I can recall), though Bennett works for Ellis and is friends with Casey (both MCs from Uncomplicated Choices , in case you have not read that one). The timeline for the main story is about 2007-2011 and the Epilogue jumps to the summer of 2016. To put this in series timeline perspective, the story starts around the later part of Path of Destruction and the Epilogue is where Uncomplicated Choices begins.

"You can never make up for lost time. All you can control is where the first ends and where the second begins."

Wow. Just wow. Cara Dee does relationship angst like no one else. She writes some uncomfortable situations, for sure, but she's never failed to sell the story. Ever. I loved If We Could Go Back. You've probably read by now that both MC's are married throughout much of the book and each have children. There is a lot at stake and never did I feel that the author made light of cheating. The path that Bennett and Kieran walk is a difficult one and they do get their HEA, but they suffer for it, as do others.

"Everything was black-and-white until you grew up and saw gray everywhere."

While they didn't deserve infidelity, the wives are not innocent bystanders, either. Through neglect and denial, both marriages were doomed to fail long before Bennett and Kieran met. This is what I love about this author's writing -- her primary and secondary characters all have layers. They feel like real people.

If We Could Go Back is heartbreaking in all the best of ways, and I was drawn into the story from the start. The story is told from Bennett's POV, so we see a lot from his perspective. We see his loneliness, his exhaustion, his bitterness. And we see Kieran through Bennett's eyes, as well. There was an attraction, from the start, but Bennett doesn't recognize it. What he does recognize is someone with whom he can build a friendship, and that's exactly what happens, until they impulsively act on their attraction and start down the path where life has meaning, but also where hurt lives.

I loved If We Could Go Back. I loved the MC's and though I didn't always love their actions, I did understand what took them there. When I encounter cheating in books, where the MC's are concerned, I need to understand what took them there. I don't want it to be easy and I want there to be consequences, but above all, I need to understand. With Bennett and Kieran, I understood.

The Camassia Cove series is one of my favorite all-time series. I've read all of the books multiple times, and I know I will read If We Could Go Back multiple times, as well. I definitely recommend it.


ARC of If We Could Go Back was generously provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.

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