What they say: 24-year old Pax Tate is an asshole. Seriously. 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? Wrong. 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’s got to 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?
What I say: Courtney Cole's contemporary romance If You Stay is the first in her Beautifully Broken series. It fits nicely into the New Adult genre because it includes lots of drug taking, drinking and sex. Told in the dual POV of the two leads (Mila Hill and Pax Tate), the story begins with a bang (or a blow)!
23-year-old Mila is struggling to cope with her parents death a few years previously and uses art to channel her emotions. Similarly Pax has never gotten over his mothers death (even repressing the memory of how she died). But instead of art, Pax uses drugs, Jack Daniels and sex to dull his pain.
I liked how Courtney Cole wasn't afraid to shock. The story begins with Pax's POV and shock-horror a blow job! Pax is a ticking bomb of self destruction, which is great for the reader, bad for him. You really get the impression that Pax genuinely doesn't care about anything until he meets Mila.
Mila is weary of Pax because she knows that he has the power to truly break her. She struggles with trust (especially after seeing him in several compromising situations). I'll say this for Pax he really does focus on Mila and commits to not being an asshole with her.
I'm not sure I completely bought into how Pax would be so willing to change for Mila, he's been the way he is for so long that would one girl suddenly be able to change him? It seems that he is an asshole with everybody but her. I guess though that Courtney Cole's point is that everybody has one person they would do anything for.
Mila on the other hand although cautious does manage to move past Pax's issues and even forgive his mistakes really quickly. I'm not sure I'd have been able to move past the Jill at the lake house incident so quickly. Mila wasn't a push over though, which I appreciated. And I liked how they developed together.
Courtney Cole writes interesting sex scenes and I loved the painting chapter!
3 and 3/4 Stars in my Sky!
My fav non-spoilery quotes:
- "Hey there, little red riding hood," Pax drawls, setting his bag on the counter in front of me. "I owe you a sweater."
- "Are you trying to find some sort of reason that I've become such an asshole? The reason is... I'm an asshole."
- "You've seen me at my worst. Maybe you should see me at my best." "When are you at your best?" "In bed."