Release Date: March 29th, 2022
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CW/TW: PTSD, character with prosthetic, panic attacks, emotional cheating, toxic masculinity
What happens when you meet the boy of your dreams in a bookstore?
You pretend you’re not leaving for college in the morning, and instead spend the night falling hard for his blue eyes, dimples, and creative soul – even if Maddox is a poetry hater.
You pretend you don’t get that tattoo in his honor.
You spend the next ten years telling yourself that a corner of your heart isn’t taken by a boy from your past.
When you see those blue eyes again, you pretend you don’t feel seen—awake—for the first time in a decade.
You remind yourself that you said yes to a man you didn’t want to marry, and now you’re stuck.
You tell yourself that this is the life you wanted. But it isn’t. Not anymore.
What happens when you run into the woman you haven’t stopped thinking about for a decade? The wild-haired, free-spirited sunshine girl from your past?
You pretend she’s not at that brewery with her fiancé, your new friend. Leo. The man who can make or break your design career.
You pretend neither of you see that Leo is keeping secrets and close to breaking.
You pretend you don’t know how miserable Ava is with her life, how she only lights up when you’re around.
You tell yourself you don’t ache for the one woman you can’t have.
But you do. You want her as badly as she wants freedom, and the time has come to stop pretending.
“I have a really hard time watching you dim yourself, Ava. Try not to do that around me, okay? I’ll fight you on it every time.”
Eve Kasey has ruined me yet again. I don’t even know how she does it every single time. Can’t Help Loving You is a beautiful story of finding love with the same person for a second time, even if they can’t be with you. It’s a story of finding yourself while falling in love. It’s a story of second chances in general. And in true Eve style, she made it lyrical and poetic and beautiful and just…there aren’t enough words in the English language to express just how beautiful this book was. Prepare to swoon, laugh and most certainly cry because Ava and Maddox will take you all over the emotional rollercoaster and it is totally worth it.
This standalone follows Ava Lombard and Maddox Case (you might remember him in a scene from Fighting Gravity) when they meet on one fateful day and fall in love. It’s the last day before both their lives change for good, but they’re drawn to each other and they spend the entire day making memories. Memories that last them 10 years when the book picks up again. They’ve made their own lives, they’ve got big futures planned and they don’t expect to run into each other again, except…they do and all those things they left behind on that beach suddenly comes rushing back. The only problem is, Ava’s now engaged to another man. A man who is now Maddox’s new friend.
When it comes to Eve’s stories, I can always be assured to not only fall in love with the book, but every character she writes. And this time around, the love I felt for Ava and Maddox cannot be put into words. Ava joins Quinn as one of my favourite heroines written by Eve. I love how she sees the world and how she inspires Maddox to get out of his own head to become the man she knows he is. Ava is also incredibly kind, generous and funny. Plus, my favourite thing about her is her creativity. I won’t give away what that means, but trust me when I say she’s so so brilliant. But it’s Ava’s heart that really calls to you, she’s such a strong character even in the face of pain and struggles, even when staring into the eyes of the man she loves but can’t have. Gah, so beautiful inside and out.
Maddox Case is everything. Think of all the things that make up a book boyfriend and you’ll have Maddox. He’s gorgeous (duh!), he’s friendly, energetic, smart, talented, charming and most of all, he’s swoony as heck. I mean…this is the guy that saw a girl from a distance and decided that he wanted to get to know her only to fall in love with her and lose her in 24 hours. I loved Maddox’s growth the most. When we first meet him, he’s a teenager and he’s cautious about the choices he makes. But as an adult? Maddox is loud and bright and colourful and he is everything I wish I could be when I grow up. Everything from his clothes to his job to the way his brain works, Maddox is just such a beautifully written character. Don’t even get me started on his heart and soul, because like Ava says multiple times over the course of the book, “Maddox is beautiful”. And it’s true.
While not the hero of the story, Leo Thorn is a character that I think everyone is going to not only relate to, but love in some small way. I didn’t expect to get so attached to him, but I did! I loved Leo’s growth too and I loved that he wasn’t perfect, but also that he was called out on this. I don’t want to tell you too much about Leo, because reading him through Maddox and Ava’s eyes is probably the best way to fall in love with him too.
“Most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen.”
“The sunshine girl who has my heart.”
Maddox and Ava have the slowest burn ever. There’s so much the two of them have to sort through and with Ava and Leo’s relationship still intact, I respected these characters so much for not crossing those lines. Love triangles are messy when there’s cheating involved and I love that Eve didn’t go down that road. But my god, the emotional struggle these characters face, the sexual tension and all of the pain they feel being around each other—I felt it. And it’s not in big, obvious ways either. It’s little things like a necklace or a tattoo or a random memory—but everything really just hurts and makes you love these characters and their love story so much.
If I could, I would paste every single quote, every single exchange of words between Maddox and Ava, because Eve is a master of words. It’s one thing to craft a love story so potent that you feel it in your bones, but it’s a completely different thing to write dialogue and thoughts and words that slows your breath and captures your soul. And I believe the only thing I did not like the book was that even though I read it twice, it still had to end. I do not appreciate that at all.
Disclaimer: I read an early draft of this story and Eve is a friend. However, this does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Thanks to Eve Kasey for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.