Reclaim, an all-new intense and heart-wrenching romance from USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez is available now!
Choices. Everyone makes them. From mundane to unimaginable, one choice can change the trajectory of your entire life.
My mother’s choice was to abandon us with our abusive father.
My brother’s choice was to go to prison for killing the boy who assaulted his soulmate.
Camden Cole’s choice was to fall in love with a shattered girl who had absolutely nothing to offer him but heartbreak.
It was one summer beneath the trees, but with Camden, I had a place where I belonged.
A friend who was always waiting for me.
A boy who I caught staring at me more often than not.
He was mine, but when the world closed in and secrets exploded all around us, it was my choice to let him go.
Choices. Everyone makes them.
But mine would ruin us all.
I loved this emotionally charged friends to lovers romance! This love story spans over several years from childhood friendship to adult romance. Significant traumatic events as children change the course of their lives and this book shows their journey back to each other.
Nora and Cam meet when they are 11 and 12 respectively. Nora’s mother left her and her brother with their abusive father and to say she has trust issues is an understatement. The summer she meets Camden was finally something good in her life. Cam was a bit of a klutzy, loveable boy who taught Nora the value of friendship. It takes Nora a while to trust Camden but when she needs him most, he always shows up, ready to protect her.
A significant portion of this book ~ 40% is told in the POVs of Cam and Nora as children. I wasn’t a huge fan of this to be honest. One of the things I love about friends to lovers is the moment friends realize they are attracted to each other and the push and pull of revealing those feelings that follow. These were kids at the age of 11/12 and then 12/13 so there wasn’t any sexual anticipation for the first half of the book. I wish the author would have made them a little older around 15/16.
As adults Nora and Cam are separated for years on and off. They always seem to connect when my sweet, heroic Cam comes to rescue Nora. Cam always seemed to be there for her, loving her and taking care of her even when she didn’t realize. Adult Cam was so swoon worthy and he grew up into such a sexy man compared to the little kid who was constantly tripping over his own two feet.
These two eventually develop amazing chemistry and I loved them as a couple when they finally got it together. The plot intricately involves Nora’s brother Ramsay from Release. I didn’t read his story but I didn’t feel like I missed out so this can definitely be read as a standalone. I think you’ll have spoilers though so if you plan to read both then read Release first.
Fans of emotional friends to lovers romance will love this!
Contemporary Friends to Lovers Romance
Heat Level: Moderate
*ARC generously provided in exchange for an honest review
Add Reclaim to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3mysHDA
He wedged his large body beside me in the bed. On his side, he draped one arm across my middle, curling his other under his head.
I watched him out of the corner of my eye, completely unsure if I was supposed to cuddle into him or what the hell we were doing.
“This okay?” he asked. “You comfortable?”
I was a lot of things. Confused. Lost. Overwhelmed by guilt.
But because it was Camden, comfortable was one of those things too.
As an answer, I rolled toward him and buried my face in his broad chest.
His whole body sagged as he began stroking the back of my hair. “Nora. Nora. Nora.”
In a way, Camden and I were strangers, but as his heart played in my ear, I felt two puzzle pieces clicking into place. A calm washed over me. The dark cloud of my betrayals still existed outside of Camden’s embrace; it just didn’t seem so ominous anymore. He knew all the dirty and broken parts of me and still came back, holding me as though he could keep me together.
Sliding an arm around his back, I curled in close, shifting to tangle my legs with his. “I’m tired, Cam.”
“I know,” he whispered, hugging me tight.
“No, you don’t. Nobody understands. I’m a disease who infects everyone who gets close to me.” My breathing shuddered. “It hurts. Everything hurts.”
“Do you remember our first summer together when a grasshopper got into the container where we held the extra worms? You screamed so loud when you opened that thing and it came flying out like a bat out of hell. It got on your shirt and then hung on for dear life. With all the racket you were making, the damn thing had to have been terrified, but he never jumped off. I had to peel it off your shirt, one leg at a time.”
I gagged at the memory. “Thanks for reminding me of that. Awesome timing.”
He chuckled and pressed his lips to the top of my head. “I’m the grasshopper clinging to your shirt, Nora.”
Now, if that wasn’t some good old classic Camden Cole rambling, I had no idea what was.
I tilted my head back, resting my chin on his pec, and peered up at him. “You do realize I have no idea what you’re talking about, right?”
My cold, hollow chest filled with a warmth I hadn’t felt in years when he grinned down at me.
“I genuinely thought you’d find your way back to me. A phone call. A visit. Anything. But as time passed and I got older, I realized I fell in love with a girl who had no idea how to be loved.”
My stomach wrenched, and emotion made my vision swim. “Camden, I—”
“No, just let me talk. Hear me out.” He tucked a stray hair behind my ear and let his thumb linger at my cheek, sweeping back and forth. “I know you love me, Nora. It’s flashed in your eyes every time you’ve seen me since we were kids. It’s like every light in the house suddenly comes on, but it terrifies you, so you spend the whole time we’re together running around, turning them all off, convincing yourself that you don’t deserve for people to love you back. But we still do it. Joe loves you. Thea loves you. Ramsey loves you. I’ll always love you.”
Originally from Savannah, Georgia, USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez now lives in South Carolina with her husband and four young children.
Never one to take herself too seriously, she enjoys cheap wine, mystery leggings, and olives. It should be known, however, that she hates pizza and ice cream, almost as much as writing her bio in the third person.
She passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a super-sized tumbler of wine by her side.
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