NOTE: I received the eARC via Netgalley and Entangled Publishing. Thanks so much!
Before I start with the real side of this review, I want to say that I'm in love with Cindi Madsen's writing. Ever since I read All the Broken Pieces, I was hooked, and have been waiting hungrily for each following publication of hers. I sound crazy fanatical, I know. I'm not, I just love her writing style, the depth that she creates in each of her characters, the fluidity of her stories... etc. etc.
I was immediately drawn into the story, even though Cindi chose to begin this one with an analysis of fairy tales and how they affect young girls. What expectations they give us all at a very fragile age, and how they obscure our world making our understanding of it more or less unrealistic. Throughout the book, there are a bunch of 'case studies' as the lead female, Darby, calls them. They're basically Darby's say on her past relationships. In them she compares each guy to a fairy tale prince, based on their similarities, and reasons why the relationship didn't work. Mostly, the reason was that her expectations of the guy were NOT realistic.
Which is why she swore off guys, off romance, well... mostly off fairy tale kind of romance. She even has a bunch of rules that she knows she MUST stick by or she'd end up with a broken heart once again.
I honestly loved Darby. She was brave - she did have a whole bunch of twisted relationships behind her back and she still found the strength to go on and accept love when it finally struck her. Sure, it took a while, but who cares? She was also smart - yeah, she did fall for some of those bastards, but never for their dumb lines. And she was also honest and I admire that trait in any character. She also had a very nice sense of humor, which I adored. The guys she dated seemed to be stuck up in the butt and never got her jokes, but I got them and enjoyed them very much. I even laughed out loud, to the very annoyance of my husband, but that's irrelevant.
Then, Jake saved her from smashing her face on his restaurant's floor and wham! Darby was sucked into a whole new world of emotions. She was confused and protective of herself most of the time. I didn't like it that for the sake of protecting her own heart, she actually came close to breaking Jake's, but hey - a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
I loved Jake though. I felt bad for him, seeing that he had to go through so much just to get Darby to go out with him. He was really kind and besides being handsome, he was also funny and laughed at her jokes. He was also patient - he waited for her over the span of several months just to accept one date! He wasn't braggy confident of himself either. Jake was rather understanding, and tried to give Darby the comfort she'd been lacking in past guys. For grace's sake, he even passed the freaky brothers' test! If that wasn't a sign for Darby, that it sure was for me!
Anyway, I just want to say something in conclusion. Something that really impressed me with this novel. It's the final revelation of Darby - that there is love in this world, and one special person to wait for. But what comes after meeting that one person is more important - that's keeping them. Life isn't easy, there will always be hardships that couples will have to go through. Even when it seems that the passion is gone, the feelings of love and companionship still remain and yes, they matter, and yes, THEY ARE WORTH FIGHTING FOR.
My rating is 4.5/5 stars