Book: Stay with Me
Author: J. Lynn (Jennifer L. Armentrout)
Series: Wait for You
Standing: Book 3
POV: 1st person by Calla, past tense
Setting: Plymouth Meeting, Philadelphia. Modern day.
Genre: NA romance
Source: Physical copy
Release: September 23rd, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Rating: 5 stars
At 21, Calla hasn’t done a lot of things. She’s never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement park. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should. She still carries the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends.
But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she'd left behind and clean up her mom’s mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother’s bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming.
Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla’s business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal . . . and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she’s got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn’t give them her mom.
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(Note: due to time issues, I won't be writing reviews for Be With You and Fall With Me during my re-read, but they all get 5 stars from me!)
Onto the review.
One word: Jax.
I'm going to be bluntly honest here. Of all the guys in this series, Jax is my number one. Don't get me wrong, I love Cam and Jase and Reece, but none of them compare to my feelings for Jax. Just getting that out of the way first. Yes, I am overly biased. No, I don't mean to offend anyone out there. I'm sorry.
This book features a girl named Calla, who is Tess' close friend. She's smart, studying to be nurse, and has a solid plan for her future which consists of finishing school, finding a job, and then reaping the benefits of putting her past behind her. But when her mother literally robs Calla of every penny and dime she has in her bank, Calla is forced to put her entire life on hold in order to track her mother down in hopes that her mother still has some money to give Calla her life back.
Calla's character is definitely different from the last protagonists, Avery and Tess. Her past is much more traumatic, in both a physical and emotional sense. A terrible scar mars her face, which she is very self-conscious of, doing everything she can to hide the worst of it. Said event that led to the scar also ultimately robbed Calla of all the good things in her life, such as her family, so it's not hard to understand why she's so reluctant to go back home. However, Calla's growth in this book was phenomenal, as she faces all the issues of her past, once again both physically and mentally. By the end, she's a changed person, able to love herself and to forgive the events of the past.
Jackson James is one mighty fine and swoon-worthy guy. For starters, he reads. Yes. Reads. Hello. But that's not all! He keeps a constant stash of juice boxes at him place, which is adorable. Add to the fact that he has a slight protective streak, able to keep his cool under duress, patient, kind, straightforward, honest, has this way of saying all the right things at the right moment, and is part of some intense steamy moments? I'm officially a melted puddle of feels. *Sighs* This guy. This guy.
But just like everyone else, Jax has a rough past that gives his character that much more depth. Formally working in the military, he's gone through his fair share of action, some good, some bad. He blames himself for a few deaths, and harbours guilt he knows he can't change. But this is also why he has a slight protective streak, since a) he literally is capable of protecting others due to military training b) he can't deal with another loss on his conscious. However, as protective as he might be, he isn't controlling and lets Calla do her own thing. Unless it's for life-threatening matters, he always leaves it up to Calla to make the ultimate decision. Calla is able to show him that there simply are things he can't do anything about, and helps him make his peace with it.
Like the rest of the series, this book deals with bigger and deeper themes, all based around scenarios that are very real, and can happen to anyone. Again, it saddens me to know that people like Mona, Mack, and Isaiah exist, but it's an undeniable truth in this world. There are events traumatic enough that they can change people for the worse, leading them to make bad choices which not only impact themselves, but others. And there are always innocent people who are dragged into it, people who want nothing to do with it, but are forced to because they're either family or close friend.
This book sends out a powerful message about family, when someone has gone to far beyond help, as well as one of self-esteem and being able to love yourself. Calla faces these adversities time and time again, always questioning herself, and learning to reflect on her past. It's hard to see people as being purely "good" or "bad," especially when it comes to family. The world isn't divided into good and bad, but there are people who are inherently good, just who have had some bad experiences and history.
All in all, this is my favourite book of the Wait for You series so far. Fast-paced, full of very real desperation and scary situations I'd never want to be part of, I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to read a little darker contemporary novel!