Out of the frying pan and into the fire…
Paige Hill is discovering who she is again after losing everything she loves in a tragic fire. She’s endured a long road to recovery with the help of her best fiend Gillian and is finally beginning her life again: college, a job, and a blossoming love she never even saw coming.
Clay Forbes is the notorious campus playboy. He’s a star athlete, a senior architecture major, and the only son in a family with power and money back in his hometown. When he crashes into Paige, his whole perspective on life shifts, and his world as he knew it becomes nonexistent. He’s wrapped up in her.
They’re both learning how to love, but Clay’s ex-girlfriend Hannah won’t make it easy for them. She puts a target on Paige’s back, and won’t stop until she’s derailed their budding romance once and for all. Who will be left standing after the ashes settle for the second time?
I have no words to describe how remarkable this story was. Seriously. I just finished it and am sitting here in complete awe, confusion and frustration. There will definitely be a sequel because, unfortunately, it ends on a HUGE cliffhanger. Why? Why, Diana Gardin?! Why must you authors do this to us?
We first meet Paige Hill. Paige has had it rough. And I don’t mean “I have daddy issues” rough. I’m talking she lost her entire family in a house fire and almost lost her life kind of rough. Her story is tragic and heartbreaking. She is fragile and has horrible self-image issues due to some of the scarring left behind from her burns. But she is strong. She was allowed a second chance at life and is moving past her tragedy. She is slowly healing. At first, I thought this was going to be more of a story about Paige taking back what she lost, but it was more of a survival story. The plot was fantastic and I wound up reading the entire book in one sitting.
Paige has finally entered College life and unexpectedly meets Clay. She is instantly attracted to him, but gives him the brush off because she doesn’t think any guy could want her. What she doesn’t realize is that he feels the same way about her and wants to get to know her. But is she ready? After a horrible run-in with an ex of his at a party, she doesn’t necessarily want anything to do with him and his baggage, but he is persistent. The persistence does him good and she finally caves.
Clay Forbes is the kind of guy that gets anything he wants. He’s never had to pursue anyone. He’s the sexy soccer superstar. Girls pursue him, not the other way around. When he first meets Paige, he is drawn to her, which has never happened to him before. This, of course, leads him to pursuing her. I felt like Paige and Clay’s relationship might have moved a little too fast for my liking. Every other part of the pace of this book was spot on EXCEPT for their relationship. One minute they were just getting to know each other and the next they were confessing love. It felt a little unrealistic and way too rushed. I guess I would have liked to see a better lead up to their relationship, but I did feel the chemistry between the characters, so it wasn’t a deal breaker.
This story was a wonderful example of the fact that no matter how you feel about yourself, there is someone who doesn’t even notice because to them, they don’t see any flaws. It was amazing how Clay felt about Paige, scars and all. When she was so afraid he’d run from her after seeing them and hearing her story, he did the exact opposite. I couldn’t help but fall in love with his character. He made Paige feel good about herself again and he seemed to be helping her heal.
Unfortunately, there is a huge bump in Clay and Paige’s whirlwind romance. What story is complete without a villain of some sort? And boy was our villain a massive bitch! Hannah, Clay’s ex of some sort, stops at nothing to get what she wants and she is under the impression that Clay is hers. Even when he straight up tells her that there is nothing between them and he doesn’t want her ever again, she still doesn’t accept that fact. This leads her to tormenting Paige. Like, some really fucked up tormenting. The worst bullying imaginable to a previous fire victim kind of stuff. She is seriously crazy. Crazy to where she should be committed into a mental institution. I HATED HER. Let me repeat that. I HATED HER. I really wish Paige had done something to fight back, even if it had meant going to tattle to the Dean about Hannah, but I understood why she didn’t. Some people just want to fight their own battles, and she felt if she could survive losing everything, the tormenting from Hannah was nothing in comparison. However, we learn by the end of the book, that Paige was very wrong.
The story was written very well and, although I’m not a fan of dialogue where the person states the first and last name of the person they are talking to, I enjoyed it very much. I felt it was an easy read with enough drama to have me hooked and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. Now, I’m just a little antsy to get my hands on the next book in this series to find out what happens! I have some “theories,” but I have a feeling none of them will be right. I sure as heck wasn’t expecting some of the things that happened to happen, so I know without a doubt Ms. Gardin will surprise me.