Note: This ARC was provided by Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
He picks up my wrist, staring at the watch. “I was going to say that it’s okay to look back as long as you keep moving forward, too. When you stand still, the pain creeps up, like little vines. It’ll suffocate your heart. And you, Emma Cooper, have a beautiful heart.”We stand there on the street, staring at each other. People shoot us dirty looks as they move around us. I struggle for a response. “Right back at you, Aiden.”
I've had a couple MK Schiller's books on my tablet for quite a while now, but The Scars Between Us is my first read from her. After having finished it, I was torn between throwing the tissues I'd used to wipe away my tears and wanting to smack myself for not having read the author's previously published work earlier. I did the former and I will definitely remedy the latter because if there's one thing that this new standalone of hers has made glaringly clear, it's that I've been missing out on this author's storytelling. If her other books are as outstandingly moving and well-written as this one, then it looks like I'm going to have one more name to add to my list of go-to authors.
At the cusp of turning twenty-one, Emma Cooper finds herself at a turning point in her life, only she doesn't know it quite yet. As far as she knows, she's packed up her stuff, sold the home she loves, and drives from Dunsmuir, California to Butte Falls, Oregon to fulfill her late mother's dying wish. Emma has no clue who Aiden Sheffield is or what role he played in her mother's life, but he isn't exactly welcoming her presence in his space. He's a former Marine turned professional fighter and animal rescue crusader, but the scars on his body tell a tale, one that Aiden is sure someone like Emma should never have to know. These two lost souls are about find what they aren't looking for--something that either one of them didn't know was missing and that they both so needed--each other.
I've said this before: I'm a sucker for a well-told story that has a dog in it, and in the case of The Scars Between Us, there's more than one dog thrown into the mix. However, these dogs aren't the cutesy ones that I've been coming across as of late. Nope, these were dogs that Aiden had rescued--dogs that had been abused and maltreated, probably for their entire lives. My heart broke for more than one of them, but it also thumped happily for those dogs that Aiden rehabilitated, the ones that were able to find their forever homes. I know that the book isn't about one or all of the dogs, but they do play such an integral part--some more prominently than others--to Aiden's and Emma's stories, though his more than hers, that it would be a disservice not to point out how they moved me too.
The title alone clued me in that this would be a heavy read, but it was so much more than a story of two people who find one another just when they need that missing part of themselves the most. This was about moving forward--about forgiveness and redemption and about realizing that letting even a sliver of light into our lives could be the beginning of banishing the darkness. Aiden is a complex hero, but just like Emma believed, he was worth putting the time into and truly getting to know. There was more to him than his less than cheerful demeanor. He had a story to tell and while the tie that binds them is revealed early on, the twists and turns in the rest of their tale will show just how entangled Aiden's and Emma's lives have always been. The Scars Between Us is, hands down, one of the best books I've had the pleasure of reading this year. A total must-read. Five-plus stars. ♥
Release Date: 17 July 2017
Date Read: 17 July 2017
Learn more about MK Schiller.