This is one of those books that remind me why I love reading so much! It both melted and broke my heart simultaneously. Ultimately this story is that of a heart-warming romance yet it is tied up in the serious subject matter of child abuse, which the author did a fabulous job of executing. I did get completely lost in the emotions of this story; yes at times it was a tad cliché, but I could not put it down and read it straight through. It was a fast paced read that kept a stronghold on my emotions which went from one end of the spectrum to the other. At times I did have to remind myself that this was fiction due to a few unbelievable scenes, yet it did not detract from the story itself at all.
In this story we have Amber and her brother Jake who have both been abused by their father for many years. Whilst the abuse is mentioned at the beginning, the story mainly focused on the aftermath; how the trauma of physical and sexual abuse ultimately affects the victim/s.
The relationship between Amber and her brother Jake is important to highlight as it broke my heart. Jake has been protecting her ever since their Dad’s abuse started, trying to shelter Amber from the beatings and comforting her afterwards. Who can blame him for being an over-protective brother when he has given himself the job as Amber’s protector and put himself in charge of her safety? These siblings have had a really tough childhood and Amber in particular was seriously traumatized by it due to her experience. She is extremely afraid of physical affection and cannot bear to be touched by anyone other than her Mum, Jake and the boy next door; Liam.
Jake (10), Amber (8) and Liam (10) are extremely close and one night when Liam sees Amber crying through his window he sneaks over, climbs through her window and lets her cry on his shoulder. This becomes a nightly habit that sees Liam spending every night for the following 8 years with Amber in his arms. Those are the only nights Amber sleeps through without nightmares. The way this beginning of their journey is described is simply beautiful and ever so innocent and heart breaking.
After a particular horrific incident involving Amber and her Dad, Liam and Jake finally put a stop to the abuse and their Dad leaves the scene for a few years. This is when Amber and Jake begin to rebuild their life with the help of Liam.
Liam very early on finds a way of calming Amber down when she has her panic attacks relating to her trauma. And this is where I literally melted, I could see him holding her, putting his lips on her neck to help calm her breathing, I had tears!! He was fiercely protective over her 24/7. Their relationship becomes something much more and the journey these two amazing characters embark on takes romance, patience, trust and true love to a whole new level! Liam is without doubt one of the most amazing characters and he truly took a piece of my heart!
Amber was quite timid and understandably fragile in the beginning, however as the story went on she gradually became stronger which culminates in her ultimately being able to confront her Dad. This being the end result from the strength obtained through her love for Liam and his love for her in return. A beautiful, heart wrenching journey that despite the horrific storyline was pure romance indulgence.
“He turned to me, and do you know what he said to me? He said in a deadly serious tone, ‘Momma, am I dead?’ And I said ‘no honey, you’re not dead’, and he shook his head, looking all confused about something. Then he pointed to you dancing and said, ‘if I’m not dead, then why is there an Angel in our house.’” – Liam