Note: This ARC was provided by the author via Sassy Savvy Fabulous Promotions in exchange for an honest review.
Was there any worse punishment than seeing the damage you'd created, and there wasn't a thing you could do to change it or make it better?
Prior to reading, Possession, which is the first novel in the Avenues Ink series about the O'Donnell brothers, the only other A.M. Johnson-penned book I had read was Sacred Hart, which I absolutely loved. With this new series starter, she delves into the heartrending second-chance love story between Declan O'Connell and Paige Simon, two people who had found real love as teenagers, believing it would be everlasting...until it abruptly ended after one life-altering decision. It's an intensely heavy read that tackles mental illness and, to a slightly lesser extent, the use of religion to persecute. It's also about family, forgiveness, and acceptance, and of course, the power of true love.
It's been nine years since Paige Simon last saw Declan O'Connell. When she sees him again, it's soon after she's left her husband, the same man she married soon after things ended between her and Declan. He's no longer the boy she fell in love with. He's grown up and the anger and hurt he feels towards her is more than evident in his eyes. Paige needs absolution and she knows that she can only find it from Declan, but how can she convince the only boy she's ever loved that she regrets not having enough faith in him and their love for each other? After nine years of being manipulated and broken, will Paige be strong enough to weather all the storms she and Declan will face?
When Paige chose to turn her back on their relationship, Declan's life spiraled further out of control and his mother and brothers bore witness to it. Now that she's back, Declan needs to let go of the hate and anger he's held on to. After all, it's no secret that he's loved no one else but Paige. But can he really trust the very same woman who went on to marry another man and spend nearly a decade as his wife? They both made one painful decision nine years ago, a decision that irrevocably broke them. But even if they make another go at a relationship, will all those persistent voices inside Declan's head talk over all the whispers of hope that being with Paige brings?
There were two things I loved most about this novel: the story of true love getting another chance at forever and the power of love for family. Both are complicated and for Declan, these two aspects of his life are intertwined. He doesn't pretend that he isn't feeling anything negative towards Paige when they meet again, and I loved that! It was honest and real and highlighted just how deep his wounds still were. But Declan was never a jackass, nor did he purposely try to hurt Paige simply to get back at her for what happened nine years ago. My heart broke, not just for him but also for Paige and his family, as his mental illness was addressed and tackled head-on and aggressively.
It's pretty obvious that the O'Donnells were not a picture-perfect family, not with an alcoholic for a father. In turn, the three brothers were affected by their home life as well as the aftermath of their father's death in different but still life-changing ways. I loved Declan and I'm curious to see where Liam's and Kieran's stories will lead them, though it's possible that Liam will be paired up with Lana, Paige's best friend, and Kieran seems to have a serious interest in the often inebriated Kate, a woman he doesn't have a very high opinion of. In short, I've got the next two books in the series on my to-be-read list, and I hope they're just as superb as the five-plus-starred Possession. ♥
16 February 2017 15 February (early release)
Date Read: 16 February 2017
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