Then There Was You by Claire Contreras
"The Hawthorne boys only gave you small particles of themselves, enough to make your cells lose balance while their own regenerated"
Where would the romance genre be if it weren't for Claire Contreras? Honestly, I have no idea because this woman is by far one of the best romance author's I have ever read.
I am a sucker for second chance tropes, and when I finished The Consequences of Falling (an enemies to lovers trope) I knew Then There Was You had to me my next read.
Then There Was You begins as Tessa Monte comes back to her beloved home town to pack her recently divorced parent's home and finally leave this town along with her memories there forever. She has to decide between an apprenticeship in New York or Paris for her dream job. However, she does not expect to see her former best friend and love of her life Rowan.
This story then breaks apart and narrates Tessa's present and her past in a form of snippets that tell the story of Ro and Tessa when they were inseparable. They loved each other once, but as Rowan went to college they drifted a part deciding that the best thing for both of them was to break up. Well, that worked well until they see each other again years later after Ro's family buys out Tessa's family's business leaving her broken and betrayed. All in all Tessa can't stand Ro.
Throughout all the novel you can feel the tension between the two of them, feel the angst and the love brewing and waiting to explode. They have a unmistakable past and they seem to get over all the mistakes both of them committed. Yet, they can't be apart from each other.
They continue to convince each other that a relationship between them is not the way to go, as Rowan is destined to be the heir of his parents company and Tessa cannot stay behind with him as she must use her bright future and sail away from the town that has failed to let her fly.
As always things don't go as it seems and as they start working together and rekindling both the friendship and the love they have for each other, it is way harder to let go. Specially after they travel together to a romantic trip to New York and finally end up consuming each other. As they return from their trip it is up to them to decide what the next steps are? Stay with each other and fight, or continue with their futures the way they should?
Rowan must get married to someone to inherit, Tessa must choose her dream job. Do they choose their career or do they finally end up choosing each other?
Those final chapters had me going insane, they had me sobbing and gripping my phone so tight that I just wanted to throw it across the room. THE ENDING and that cliffhanger ! WOW.
“I’m not ready to let go.” “You have to.” “I can’t.” “Your wings aren’t clipped, and I won’t be the reason you start thinking you can’t fly,” he whispered, coming closer, his wine-infused breath mingling with mine. “You can fly, you know?” “I know I can. I want to fly with you.”
The characters are well rounded, they grow, they mature as the book progresses. They grow with each other and that is something that usually lacks in romance novels. You usually get flat characters that do no good for each other but Claire always writes the most perfect humans into her writing.
The romance is slow and angsty, my favorite. The plot is thick with character development and with lots of amazing scenes. There is a lot of background too, family problems which drive the book to not only be about the main characters falling in love but how their environment makes it impossible for them to do so. This book is on the top of the list of my favorite romances.
“This was what people spent their lives searching for. This scary, upside down feeling that made them feel as if they were on the brink, between their first and last breath. I’d always held onto the notion that I’d rather be alone than sparkless, but since I’d tasted the sparks, I had been afraid they’d be strong enough to make me implode.”
--- 5 stars ----