Category/Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: 7/31/13
Everyone thinks of me as this happy and upbeat person. What they don't know is that I carry a deep, dark secret. Something horrible happened to me a year ago, and I have kept it quiet all this time. I was fine for a while, but somehow it’s chosen this time to come back, and it's eating at me--like a cancer.
I need to tell someone about it, I just don't know how. I'm pushing everyone I love away, including my mom and my best friend Charlie.
Then there is Will. Handsome, sweet Will. We went out on a date a while back, but then the incident happened leaving me crushed and him confused.
How do you tell someone you care about all of your secrets, and will they still want you when the truth comes out?
I realize, in this exact moment, I can’t do this anymore; I’m sick of crying and feeling scared. I’m tired of feeling broken, and accept there are things that have to happen if I’m going to get any better and put this behind me. I have to move on. Not for anyone else; for me.
***Heads up guys: this will be a bit spoilery. I don’t mean to make it that way but I really, REALLY want to talk about how wonderful this book is and the only way I can do it is by going full force with my gushing which will most likely give away some parts of the story. You know I don’t do play-by-play of books only gut reactions. With all that said, let’s proceed***
Physically and emotionally in pain, I realize how ostracizing this experience was: you can only understand if it’s happened to you. And it’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Things were done to me that night that had never been done before and I will never, ever forget, and I’ve never told a soul.
There are strong women and then there are STRONG women, women that have dealt with some of the worst circumstances in life. You see them walk down street, attend school, go into work, shop at the nearest mall or just pick up their mail from their mailbox. But what you don’t see is that some of these women have some of the deepest and darkest of secrets, secrets that take up their minds, their hearts and sometimes even their souls. Some of these women have been able to deal with these secrets but then there are those that have no idea where to even start with dealing with their inner demons. And Tori, our lead female character, is one of these women. (I say woman for two reasons: one is because technically at eighteen, you are considered an adult and two because with what we are about to talk about, and the circumstances, there was no choice in the growing up process)
“Mom, I don’t want to be a victim, and I certainly don’t want to be his. I am nobody’s victim!”
“You, my girl, are a survivor, and you will get through this because you are mine and you are strong as hell. You have a fire in you that nobody can ever put out, unless you let them, and don’t ever let anyone put out that fire.”
As you can tell from some of my quotes, Tori was a victim of sexual abuse, rape to be exact. It’s a hard word to say but its truth and sometimes truth is hard to say. It was hard for Tori to say even though she knew what had happened to her but just couldn’t come to terms with saying it out loud. You get a glimpse of her in Charlie and Maverick’s book (LOVE NOTES) and get that there is something not right. That as feisty and as ‘mouthy’ as Tori is, something horrific must have happened to her to distant herself. She especially distances herself from her other best friend, Will, who wonders what she is hiding behind those green eyes of hers.
“Please tell her I’ll always be here for her, in any capacity, and, and, I’ve never stopped caring for her, even from a distance.”
Let me take a moment to praise the glories that is Will Montgomery. After reading this book, I could not stop thinking about Will. Yes what happened to Tori was horrific and unthinkable and no woman should go through that, but there is sometimes little said about the male support system behind the victim. “I think sometimes we can’t always heal by ourselves, and sometimes the person who we are most scared to tell is the one person who can actually help us heal.” You see, Will has been one of Tori’s best friends and has loved her unconditionally from a distance. He sees HER and only her and no one else measures up to her feistiness or her fire or her beauty. Even when she tells him what had happened to her a year ago, nothing changes for him. On the contrary, he loves her more. He sees what a fighter she is. “You are the bravest girl I know.” He loves her and nothing else will change that. He is there for Tori when she most needs him and feels safe and comforted knowing that not only does she have her mother and best friend/sister support but she also has the support of Will.
Will is the kind of man that should I ever have a daughter or when my goddaughter grows up and finds herself a boyfriend/husband, that he be like Will. Will by no means is perfect but he is what every mother looks for her daughter, what a sister looks for her sister, what a grandmother is looking for her granddaughter and so on. He makes mistakes like every person on this earth but owns up to it and learns from those mistakes. But what makes him so wonderful is the deep LOVE that he gives to that one significant person. When he loves, he loves unconditionally and with full force. He is your support system, the shoulder to cry on, the arms that you fall asleep in and know that you feel safe in them. He is all in with his heart and soul, and that is sometimes rare to find.
Sidenote: thank you Ms. Gunter for not making Will Montgomery a man whoring, alcohol guzzling, reformed delinquent. He could have easily have slept himself around the school and screwed anything that two legs and a skirt while waiting for Tori, but he didn’t. He stayed true to his character. Even the simplicity of a kiss was a big deal and I am so glad that he was man enough to give her space and time for when that big moment came. (I was listening to Lady Antebellum’s “Just a Kiss” when I was writing this review and it me made think about Tori and Will. You will see why a simple kiss is such a huge step for both of them) “I’ve never stopped caring about you, not even from a distance.” (I loved the quote so much I wanted to put it in twice in my review) For once I am okay with the male lead not being a tattooed bad boy. Sometimes you really just need a sweet, kind hearted boy to make you swoon and daydream. And thank you for those funny moments of “guy talk” between Will and Maverick:
“Dude, you really should listen to me more, I’m usually right.”
"Yeah, whatever. Actually, isn’t it usually me instilling the words of wisdom? Somehow the roles have been reversed. I don’t know how that happened!”
“It’s the girls. They screw with our brain so we can’t think straight, and when you find the right one, all rational thoughts gets flushed down the toilet.”
“Isn’t that the truth.”
I had mentioned before that there are strong women and that there are STRONG women. One of these women is the author herself. You will know by the end of the book JUST how strong she is and how very brave she is to come forth with this story. It is said that the authors put themselves into their characters and THIS is the epitome of that. You see, this is Ms. Gunter’s story told in Tori’s (and Will’s) POV. It’s not a 100% true but the premise of her story told in HEARTSTRINGS. I may have given a lot away in this review, hell in this paragraph alone, but I could not NOT mention just how wonderful the author is to tell this story, her story. I applaud her for writing this and letting the world know. Her story impacted me: I laughed, I cried, I got mad, I had to stop reading. I don’t cry. I mean, I almost NEVER cry, heart of stone over here, but reading this book made me just cry huge alligator tears and made me love each and every character. I would recommend this book to everyone, female or male, young or old. It’s a wonderful read. Just have wine, tissues, ice cream or whatever makes me feel better after a few tears.
I leave you with my all-time favorite quote moment in the book:
Tears pour down, and I can’t stop them. My legs turn to jelly, unable to hold my body up any longer, and I crumble as the warm water cascades over me. As several thoughts run through my mind, I lean my head back and just let the water fall, washing all my tears down the drain. Symbolically, the tears wash away all the ugly, damaged feelings I allowed him to hold over me. Negative words tumble through my head and I send them down the drain with my tears. Nothingness. Victim. Powerless. Scared. Used. And many, many more. I let it all go and watch them flow down the drain. I thought I was doing so much better, and in a way I was, but I hadn’t let go. I need to let it all go, and refuse to give someone the power to make me feel like I’m nothing ever again. I am so much more. I say it in my head, again and again, until I finally begin to believe it then I say once more, out loud: “My name is Tori. I am no one’s victim. And by God, I am a survivor! I’ve been to hell and back and I. Will. Heal. I may never forget; but I will never again think about you like I have. I will never give you the power I’ve been giving you for the last year, and I will never let you hurt anyone else again.”
My name is Tori, and I’m a survivor.
The Love Notes Series
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