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In Robin York’s provocative new novel, two young ex-lovers find themselves together again in the shadow of tragedy—and an intense, undeniable attraction.
Caroline still dreams about West. His warm skin, his taut muscles, his hand sliding down her stomach. Then she wakes up and she’s back to reality: West is gone. And before he left, he broke her heart.
Then, out of the blue, West calls in crisis. A tragedy has hit his family—a family that’s already a fractured mess. Caroline knows what she has to do. Without discussion, without stopping to think, she’s on a plane, flying to his side to support him in any way he needs.
They’re together again, but things are totally different. West looks edgy, angry at the world. Caroline doesn’t fit in. She should be back in Iowa, finalizing her civil suit against the ex-boyfriend who posted their explicit pictures on a revenge porn website. But here she is. Deeply into West, wrapped up in him, in love with him. Still.
They fought the odds once. Losing each other was hard. But finding their way back to each other couldn’t be harder.
Audiobook Received for Review in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I wasn’t expecting to love Deeper as much as I did, and as soon as I finished it, I immediately started to listen to Harder. I was so captivated by West and Caroline’s complicated relationship and I needed more. This book really did a number on my emotions, and I loved every second of it. Things are much complicated for West and Caroline this time around which only raises the stakes on their relationship…or lack thereof.
After the events in Deeper, Caroline and West are at a crossroads in their relationship. West already helped Caroline out in the previous book, when all she felt like doing was giving up, and now this time Caroline has to find a way to help West. But West isn’t making things easy for Caroline this time either. Of course he isn’t! West is stubborn and hardheaded and really is trying to do the right thing, in his own fucked up way. But Caroline already knows this about him and she’s determined to be there for him now that he’s going through his hard time. Even when West makes it very clear that he doesn’t want Caroline’s help or that he doesn’t want her around. He even makes some very (very!) dumb choices which had a lot of readers pissed off at him. This was so in character with West’s self-destructing personality, that I didn’t hate him for what he did. Don’t get me wrong, it stung like a bitch and I could feel Caroline’s hurt and betrayal…but I could also understood why West was doing what he was doing. This also made Caroline realize that even though she still loves West, she can’t let him hurt her.
“So I could hit you. I could rage at you right now, and call you every ugly name I know, and I know a lot. I could tell you how much I’m hurting, or I could get out of the car, slam the door, hitchhike to the airport because fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, West, how could you do this to me? How?”
I love that even though Caroline was angry at West and she was determined to not let him hurt her anymore, she still cared about his well-being and still helped him out with his little sister, because that poor girl needed a friend. Caroline was such a stronger character this time around and so much of that had to do with West and the confidence he gave her in the first book. Where Deeper focused mostly on Caroline and her self confidence issues caused by the explicit pictures her ex leaked on the internet, this time the story focuses more on West and his dysfunctional family life. Like always, Caroline and West have this amazing and deep chemistry between them, even when they aren’t together. I just wanted to scream at them to hurry up and work through their issues. I didn’t find this as TMI as the first book and thought the sexy scenes were very well written.
She knows who she is deep inside herself. I can break her heart, but I can’t break her pride. I can’t break her. She’s never going to let that happen.
I really liked this story, but I did want to know what happened with West and his drug-dealing? Did he just stop selling drugs all of a sudden? What happened to the charges against him? Did he ever get rid of the weed stash in his locker at the gym??? And while I loved that the revenge porn problem didn’t have a magical (and unrealistic) solution, I was a little bit disappointed because I wanted Nate to get what he deserves for doing what he did to Caroline. I thought he got off kind of easy. Overall, Harder was a great follow up. I loved West and Caroline’s journey and I’ll be looking forward to more books by this author.
Audiobook Comments: I’m so glad that Lynde Houck and Mike Chamberlain narrated this book because they did such an amazing job with Deeper and I was already used to their voice (after spending 12-ish hours with them). My one complaint with Deeper was that Lynde’s narrative was slow (even at 2x speed) and there were those long pauses in between sentences. I received an MP3 audio copy for Harder which I was able to listen on my audiobook app (which I love! Listen Audiobook Player for Android) so I have way more options for speed. I was able to speed this up a little bit more than I’m able to in the Audible app and this made listening to the book so much better. I was so hooked that I listened to all of this in one day! I thought Lynde and Mike did a great job in Deeper in conveying their character’s emotions, but they did an even better job this time around. This book is more emotional than Deeper and the narrators portrayed the story beautifully!
Some of my favorite non-spoiler quotes from Harder:
It doesn’t take anything special to fight back against the world and all the ways it wants to box you in, hold you down, limit you, and keep you from thriving. You just have to know what it is you want to accomplish. You have to know who you want to be with and what you’ll give up to get them. You have to let yourself want what you want as hard as you can, as deep as that goes, even if it scares the fuck out of you.
“The world’s not black and white,” she tells me. “Life doesn’t have good guys and bad guys or a beginning, middle, and end. Not while you’re living it. It’s just people doing stuff that’s beautiful or stupid or somewhere in the middle.”
We go deep and then deeper, falling, spinning. When he’s with me, I’m never lost.
I know I love him, but I don’t want him to have those words. I want him to earn them back.
Before we crashed and burned, though, I liked the person I was with West. He made me vulnerable, but he helped me be stronger, too.
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