Release Day Promo, Reviews, and Giveaway: If You Leave: Courtney Cole

If You Leave (Book 2)
Series: Beautifully Broken

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26-year old Gabriel Vincent is a badass hero. Or he used to be, anyway. As an ex-Army Ranger, Gabe never thought he needed anyone. But after one horrible night in Afghanistan scars him in a way that he can't get past, he needs someone who can help him heal...even if he doesn't realize it.

25-year old Madison Hill doesn't need anybody...or so she thinks. She grew up watching her parents' messed-up abusive relationship and she knows there's no way in hell that she's ever letting that happen to her.

They don't know it in the beginning, but Gabriel and Madison will soon develop a weakness: Each other.

But Gabriel's got a secret, a hidden monster that he's afraid Maddy could never overcome... And Maddy's got issues that she's afraid Gabe will never understand. They quickly realize that they need each other to be whole, but at the same time they know that they've got demons to fight.

And the problem with demons is that they never die quietly.

If You Stay (Book 1) 
Mila and Pax's Story

Before We Fall (Book 3) 
Jacey and Dominic's story

Goodreads/Pre-order Amazon/B&N

Coming December 3, 2013

The bad thing caught you.I've never retreated away from a fight and I've never cowered in fear. Ever. That's not who I am. But I've been in combat long enough to know that when something unbeatable chases you, you do the only you can do. You run.

Gabe is a retired Army Ranger that went through trauma in Afghanistan and is having difficulty adjusting to civilian life and putting the horror behind him. I felt for Gabe from the very beginning. He was a tough alpha hero with a tortured, guilt-ridden soul. He was charismatic, cocky, arrogant, and challenging. But he had a good heart and wanted to protect those he cared about. But he had such deep feelings of guilt, anxiety, fear, and nightmares that it was ruining his chance for a normal life or happiness. 

All I know is Gabriel has that kind of confidence. The kind that turns my stomach inside out. And there's something else about him, too...something intriguing. I don't even know him, but there's something in his eyes, something dark and haunted that draws me to him.

We first me Madison in If You Stay since she is Mila's older sister. Madison gave up her whole life when her parents died and moved home, took care of her little sister, and her family's restaurant. But her life is not really the one she planned on living. She lost some of her spark and enjoyment of life. She  had fears and insecurities stemming from her home life as a child. She was stuck in the past and not facing her fears or moving on. She was serious, stand offish, and controlled.

Try as I might to stay away from powerful, strong guys who command a room, guys who might hurt me...I am totally and completely attracted to those guys. I'm attracted to the very things that might hurt me the most. And it is glaringly obvious that Gabriel is all of those things. And more. 

Madison and Gabe both have their pasts and demons to fight that have left them emotionally scarred and fearful of getting close to anyone. From their first meeting they had an instant connection and explosive chemistry, unfortunately their first night together was unexpectedly interrupted. Their lives seem to keep crossing. It took a lot of back and forth  before Madison was willing to give Gabe a second chance. She really made Gabe work for it. 

Their interactions were snarky,  sarcastic, intense, and full of need. But both of these people did not really want to need anyone. Their pasts had altered their perceptions on relationships, but they cannot seem to stop the attraction and magnetic pull they have for each other.  Before they realize it, they are in over their heads. 

"This is you and me, Madison. This is just you and me. We might be f***ed up in some ways, but like Jacey says, we're good people. We'll figure it out. Everything will be fine."

No matter how close they get, Gabe's nightmares will not go away. He is very protective of Maddy and does not want to hurt her. And he cannot start a life with Maddy unless he can heal himself. But her biggest fear is loss. So their worst fears are conflicting and  there is no right solution to solve their issues.

Before either of them can truly find their way together, they have to learn to face their own fears and forgive themselves and accept the things they cannot change. 

This was not a sweet, sappy love story. It was raw, gritty, heart breaking, and intense. There were deep issues to deal with, difficult situations, painful pasts, sadness, and guilt. I felt everything they felt and my heart hurt for them. 

"It's like I'm not whole when I'm not with you..You're a piece of me. A big piece of me. And when you're gone, I can't function right. I'm only half a person. "

"Everyone always seems to leave me, Gabe...And if you leave...if you leave nothing will ever be OK again."

They were two broken and lost individuals, but somehow they fit together. But once all of the secrets are out and pasts are revealed, can they deal with the fall out? Can they fix themselves and each other or will they be left more shattered than before?

Courtney Cole starts her books with a gut punch. She hits you immediately with a harsh reality from the first page, hooks you in the story and makes you feel for the characters. I could not put it down. It was wonderful to continue Mila and Pax's story and see what has happened with them since the first book. And they were a big part of this story as well. The next book Before We Fall is about Gabe's sister and Maddy's friend Jacey. She had her own issues to deal with during this story. I would love to see a story about Gabe's Army Ranger buddy Brand in the future as well. He is another tough alpha who will do anything for his friends. 

This book was emotional, heartbreaking, heartwarming, and inspiring. But it was not pretty. It was also  real, rough, painful, and difficult.  I teared up in times because of their pain and at other times in happiness. But sometimes the harder the story is to tell, the more poignant and beautiful it is. I was completely emotionally invested in this couple and their recovery.

Thanks to Courtney Cole, Netgalley, Hachette/Grand Central Publishing/Forever for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are from ARC and are subject to change in final draft. 

Um, wow, just wow! Courtney Cole, you are amazing chick, simply amazing! I never know what in the hell to expect when I open up one of your books. This makes me one happy girl since you never ever fail to blow my mind with your raw grittiness. From the first sentence all the way to the end, my heart is ripped open wide and left to flip flop back and forth between broken and mended. I didn't think it could get any better than Pax, damn girl; you proved me wrong and pulled out all the stops on this one. Readers prepare, If You Leave is a heavy read that isn't prettied up in the least bit. Ms. Cole lets it all hang out, and she most definitely doesn't hold back.

"I decide that Gabriel Vincent is an enigma.
A blatantly arrogant enigma.
A scorchingly sexy, dangerous-as-hell enigma.
An enigma with a rippling six-pack and smoldering eyes."

Gabe, oh my gosh, Gabe! I just wanted to wrap that man up in a huge hug and never let him go. He is just so crippled; the memories of his time as a Ranger leave him mentally torn and damaged. Suffering from PTSD and guilt, Gabe no longer knows how to live life as a normal civilian. The flashbacks and nightmares rule him now. Outside the bedroom Gabe doesn't do relationships; he has no room for them. It's all about quieting the voices and painful memories inside his head. I loved and adored him from the very first instance I met him. Hmm, let me rephrase that, there was a brief moment I was cursing him to the high heavens. My trust in him slipped, and I wasn't sure if I would be able to come back from that. I remember messaging Kim around 1 am telling her how much I did not like him at that moment, that's how bad he pissed me off. I forgot all the reasons why I fell for his cocky goodhearted personality. It wasn't long after that occurrence when the author grabbed a hold of my heart and squeezed with all her might causing it to beat a mile a minute in panic, as tears poured down my face. Needless to say, I forgot all about my anger and once more became a huge fan of this subdued and browbeaten hero. His pain and torment were plain as day, it flowed off the pages in waves washing over me. Gabe's journey was one hell of a roller coaster of emotions. His character wrecked me, absolutely wrecked me. Not sure I will be able to move past him any time soon. Courtney Cole has succeeded in leaving me in a book hang over.

"This is you and me, Madison. This is just you and me. We might be f***ed up in some ways, but like Jacey says, we're good people. We'll figure it out. Everything will be fine."

Nothing came easy between Maddy and Gabe. Nothing. Their relationship most of the time focuses on the fight and flight syndrome. Cat and mouse as Courtney describes it.  Neither Maddy nor Gabe is whole, certainly not whole enough to guide a healthy relationship with each other. Both are unstable and broken down in their own ways. Each facing and dealing with obstacles that have structured the behaviors and reactions of who they have become. Their journey offered us an adventure filled with doubt, forgiveness, tension, love, angst, happiness, and pain. It was alluring and intriguing to watch the powerful chemistry between them take shape and grow; these interactions began the process of healing without them even realizing it. I found myself captivated by the flirty teasing bits, as much as I was the emotional moments such leaving me completely and utterly invested in them as a couple. 

"He's a guy that is made of everything that scares me. 
He will hurt you.
I know that. 
Yet at the same time, I know he's a guy who can turn me on in one second flat."

I know I didn't touch much on Maddy in my review. It isn't that I didn't like her character because I did. She was a strong sassy lead. Exactly what our hero needed to mend his shattered perception. It's just that for me the main focus was Gabe. He seduced me and held my attention to the very end. I felt his character held the most emotional and character growth. Gabe was center stage the entire book. I just didn't want anyone reading my review to think Maddy was lacking as a heroine because she most definitely wasn't.

Courtney poured her heart and soul in to this book, and her writing as always is emotionally stimulating and beautiful. Her character development is outstanding; the chemistry between them is off the charts hot. There is so much depth and thought that goes in to the plot that you can't help but relate and connect with them on a more personal basis, her stories feature complications and behaviors that are believable. One of my favorite things about her writing is that it is so in your face you have no choice but to sit up and take notice. If You Leave is no exception. It is a raw gritty tale that offers an amazing adventure of two people who find love, forgiveness and closure. In the end this is a story of redemption and second chances, Gabe and Maddy have to learn that if they just reach out to each other they will find light at the end of the tunnel. Courtney Cole has made it to my list of authors (which are few and far between) who I would automatically purchase without even reading the blurb. If You Leave as well as If You Stay comes HIGHLY recommended from me.

Thanks to Courtney Cole, Netgalley, Hachette/Grand Central Publishing/Forever for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are from ARC and are subject to change in final draft.

Courtney Cole Website/Facbook/Twitter
Courtney Cole is a novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could. She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds. She loves chocolate and roller coasters and hates waiting and rude people.
Courtney lives in quiet suburbia, close to Lake Michigan, with her real-life Prince Charming, her ornery kids (there is a small chance that they get their orneriness from their mother) and a small domestic zoo.

 Grand Central Publishing: Website/Facebook/Twitter

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  1. Sounds like a great story, hope they get past their demons and have a HEA!
    Thanks for the giveaway =)

  2. I'm looking forward to the HEA. LOve it. Thanks

  3. New reader i look forward to anything i get to read thanks for the chance to win.

  4. Haven't read any yet, have heard great things.

  5. I need to find out if there is a Happily Ever After! Thanks for the giveaway!

  6. I haven't read either book, but I am excited to get the chance to! Thanks for the giveaway!

  7. Thanks for sharing your review and the giveaway. Sounds like a great series and I am looking forward to reading it. evamillien at gmail dot com

  8. My kind of stories and i can't wait to read them! Thankyou for the great giveaway xxx

  9. I am looking forward to two scarred hearts becoming one!!

  10. SOunds like a great story. Even though sweet sappy lo stories are always good I prefer here to b a little more of a "fight"

  11. I look forward to finding a new author to follow. I enjoy reading books from new authors and sharing their info with others!!

  12. Can't wait to read it!!!
    Thanks for the giveaway!!!

  13. loved the first book and i just can't wait to see where everything moves forward and seeing other characters evolve...thanks for the giveaway :)

  14. Have to find out if they get their HEA!!!!

  15. Haven't read the series yet so looking forward to it all!


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