Review: “Could Have Been Us” by Corinne Michaels

Series: Willow Creek Valley, #2

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: April 27th, 2021

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Stella Parkerson has been in love with Jack since she was sixteen. He’s older, broken, her brother’s best friend, and unwilling to betray his promise to never touch her again. Their past is riddled with secrets. Their heartache is too much to bear, but what happens when they can no longer keep apart and give in to their love?

Fifteen years ago, I fell for Jack O’Donnell.

I was just a girl, but I knew my brother’s best friend was the only man I’d ever love.

On my eighteenth birthday, when I asked him to kiss me, I never imagined it would change my life so completely.

I gave Jack everything that night.

In order to move on, we had to go our separate ways and pretend like nothing happened… as though it wasn’t the greatest moment of my life.

But even that wasn’t as heartbreaking as the secret we were forced to keep.

I’ve tried not to think about how much I still love him. How I long to be back in his strong arms or the way his hazel eyes make my heart race.

Until he kisses me again. And this time there’s no turning back. This time I know what it means.

We belong together and there’s no use denying it any longer.

But our feelings aren’t the only thing that won’t stay buried, our past resurfaces and threatens to destroy our second chance at happiness.

When our love is tested once again, will we be strong enough to stand together?

 

Gah, this book was an absolute tearjerker. I cannot even put into words how many things Jack and Stella made me feel. It was so intense, there were moments when I was sure that I would just explode into tears because of the journey these characters were going on. While you don’t need to read Return to Us, it’s a good introduction to the Parkerson family and all of the reasons why these characters go through what they do. Besides, there are some hints about what happened in the first book that will come up in this and it’s better you have an idea rather than be totally left in the dark.

Stella has been in love with Jack for as long as she can remember, but he’s her big brother’s best friend and Grayson would completely lose his mind if the two of them had anything to do with each other. So when they hook up on her 18th birthday, they keep it a big secret. Including everything that happens nine months later and what finally tears them apart. As far as her family is concerned, Stella and Jack are just friends by circumstance, but there’s so much more under the surface. And the older they get, the harder it becomes to just ignore the feelings. And good lord, watching them go through the motions of not loving each other to keep up appearances was so heart wrenching. But it was also so beautiful. And painful.

“Do you want me?”

“Like the fucking air I breathe.”

Unlike in other brother’s best friend romances, Stella and Jack have already admitted to each other how they love each other. So the book kicks off with all this longing and this desire to be together. Plus, they have a secret that they share with nobody else but each other and it’s so painful to watch them go through that without actually being able to be together. Could Have Been Us is an angsty love story, featuring two wonderfully written characters and the history they share. Both Jack and Stella have gone through so much in their lives and they continue to deal with all of this every single day of their lives together.

This book is incredibly emotional. Have tissues ready, because you’re going to cry. You get a glimpse into where it all started and then you continue to go through the pain and the struggles as they try to make sense of it all. Stella and Jack are not having an easy life and it’s even harder when the person you love can’t be the one you want to be with. Could Have Been Us is also a heavy book, tackling problems and life choices that can completely throw a perfectly normal life into absolute chaos.

“I see you, want you, and know that there’s not a fucking universe that exists where I should have you.”

In the first book, we get a glimpse of the changes the Parkerson family is going through and the trauma they’ve all been through thanks to their father. And obviously they’re making changes. We finally get to see more of those changes and the results of their choices in this book. The Parkerson siblings know exactly what they want and they’re going to get it, no matter the cost and we get to watch them come together, through all the good and the bad, and really just make it work out for them.

Corinne Michaels continues to leave me in awe with her storytelling, her character creation and her world building. I have enjoyed the two books in this series very much and I’m looking forward to what comes next and how the rest of the Parkerson siblings can have their lives fall into place.

Thanks to Corinne Michaels and Valentine PR for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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