BLOG REVIEW: Come To Me Quietly by A.L. Jackson

20y.o. waitress & college student heroine can’t believe her brother’s childhood best friend 23y.o. Hero is staying at the apartment she’s sharing with her older brother. 
She last saw him 6 years ago before he was sent to a juvenile delinquent facility. And she’s never really gotten over him. 
His brokenness doesn't repel her. 
It makes her want to understand him and be there for him. 
As much as construction-worker Hero tries to only be her friend, their strong connection draws him closer to her than he planned to.
Eventually leading them to a secret affair.
However, his demons continue to push him away from her.
Making him fall back on old habits.
Can he ever outrun his past? What kind of future can they have together? Or is he too broken for her?

My 1st Jackson book & it hooked me. Poignant, sexy, sweet, and deep. Hero had some major past issues that continued to immobilize his life. He was a broken man who could not find any rest from his tormenting guilt of the past. 

     ------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details--------------

His guilt was due to the car accident he caused that led to his beloved mom's death when he was 16. His conscience keeps on punishing him with memories of his impatience at getting back home quickly to go to a party he lied to his parents about and his reckless driving despite his mom's warnings. It didn't help that his dad emotionally abandoned him and his sister due to his grief over his wife's death and that some residents in their town gave Hero accusatory looks. His resultant numbing of his pain with drugs, his failed suicide attempt, and his time at the juvenile-delinquent facility until age 18 set a spiraling pattern of self-sabotage. 

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He viewed himself as unworthy of forgiveness, love, and any worthwhile good. Drugs, alcohol, meaningless sex, and his death-and-misery themed tattoos marked his attempts at punishing and numbing himself from his tormenting thoughts. Even when he was with heroine, his thoughts condemned him for trying to be happy with someone good like her. By himself, it was clear that he couldn't fix his problems on his own.  It was also clear that he wasn't allowing others to help him. The set-up to Hero as being almost impossibly redeemed was done well. It made me care for him while making me wonder how in the world this guy was gonna ever choose lasting happiness.

Although Hero's brokenness was central to the plot, it was heroine's unconditional love and patient support that drove the book. She was his savior.  His consolation and comfort, even though he didn't ask for it and sometimes rejected it. I loved heroine's character. She was sweet, stubborn, strong, hard-working, persistent, and understanding. She was no pushover who passively waited for Hero and took his abuse. She knew what she wanted and didn't compromise, despite pressures to do so. She may have loved Hero since she was 14 but she dated other guys but didn't have sex with any because none of them felt right for her.  Even when Hero was trying to dissuade her, heroine knew what she wanted, understood what the consequences were of sex with him, and persisted without seducing or manipulating him. She was a straight-shooter in her quiet and patient way. I liked her! And she had the emotional strength to sustain them both. Hero may appear the tough bad boy on the outside but he was a mess emotionally and couldn't see the good in himself.  Heroine, on the other hand, was psychologically healthy and could see past the bad and have realistic hope that things will improve. 

The angst of the book towards the end got to me. I got teary-eyed when he defaulted back to self-sabotaging.

     ------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details--------------

Hero broke up with heroine and left her immediately after seeing heroine's mom, who brought back painful memories of his own mom (Their moms were best friends since they were children). Heroine's love confession while she was trying to reason with him to stay with her only served to make him run away more. Her anguished pleas to make him stay were heartbreaking. As were his agonizing thoughts that led to his choice to be apart from her. 
He went back to drugs and alcohol the following 2 months. This time it was to try to forget heroine and none worked. 

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A big part was because, no matter how unconditional and persistent heroine's love was for him, it didn't do much good when he chose to be alone and miserable. I was almost afraid that this book was going to end with a cliffhanger, with us left hanging about the state of their romance. Thank God, it wasn't.  His misery hit a new low and heroine was the reason for it. He wised up and chose her. 

I only have 2 criticisms. First was the timing of heroine's love confession. It came at the worst possible time and her asking if he loved her back had a desperate and manipulative quality to it. It was the worst thing she could do, which didn't make sense since she had always been intuitive about where he was emotionally. But she was desperate. Second was the lack of an epilogue. Since Hero had a habit of self-sabotaging, an epilogue many months or years ahead would've given me more comfort in the future of their romance. I believe that they have a good chance at a HEA(happy ever after). An epilogue would've cinched it though.

 I certainly recommend this book.

UPDATE 1/6/13: Author A.L. Jackson emailed me back and informed me that book 2 will address Hero and heroine's future. So we do get an epilogue. A whole book's worth!

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