I have a thing for bad boys. OMG do I have a thing for bad boys. And I like Courtney Cole’s new bad boy, Pax. He’s a bad boy for a reason.
Pax is all hard and dark and broody and tattooed with a taste for drugs and alcohol to dull the pain of his guilt over his mother’s death. He couldn’t tell you why he feels guilty over his mom dying, because he can’t remember much about her death, but he definitely feels guilty. And his less than present dad definitely doesn’t help improve Pax’s outlook on life. Poor guy. The opening scene of If You Stay is dark and definitely sets the mood for a gritty, raw adult romance, not to mention it pretty much lays Pax out for the world to see. And when Mila finds our bad boy trapped in a very dangerous situation, it’s obvious she’s his polar opposite, and we all know what they say about opposites!
If You Stay isn’t a book for young adults, or the feint of heart. It is raw and dark and true to life. Pax is a broken man, and for once, we have a character who has a true reason to be broken. He’s endured something that many cannot comprehend, and he has a hole in his memory that doesn’t allow him any closure from the tragedy of losing his mom. Mila, who’s also endured her share of hard times, is there to help him after he hits rock bottom. he’s determined to help him find his way, and Pax quickly realizes she’s the one woman who could turn him around. What follows is a rocky journey of love, hope, and inspiration.
I love the characters of this book, Mila especially (as a photographer who dabbles in art, I can definitely say I have no problem what so ever with a heroine that is an artist/photographer). Pax just warms my heart. In the beginning he’s so lost and forlorn, and so broken, and by the end…well, I can’t tell you the end because that just wouldn’t be fair. Needless to say, it’s nice to have a bad boy who has a REASON to be a bad boy. It’s not “oh woe is me, my girlfriend dumped me,” or “It’s fun to be bad,” with Pax. He isn’t bad to be bad, he’s not even really bad. He just makes some really bad choices in the guise of hiding from his pain and guilt.
The things that Mila and Pax encounter with one another aren’t out of this world or unreasonable, Courtney Cole is a pro at keeping things realistic and true to life, so that while you’re reading, you find yourself on a journey that you can believe. Believing is what makes the difference in good story and a great story. And the ending of If You Stay is perfect, I cried, I laughed, and I smiled the whole way through the book, and the ending just pulled all of my emotions together into a sense of contentment and satisfaction with the story.