by Roni Loren
Series: Say Everything #2
Published by Sourcebooks
Release Date: July 6th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Format Read: ARC, eBook
Buy on Amazon
The world can be a scary place. At least, that's what Andi Lockley's anxiety wants her to believe. It doesn't help that she narrowly escaped a dangerous man years ago, or that every relationship since has been colored with that lingering fear. But things are better now—she's channeling everything into her career as a horror novelist and true crime podcaster, and her next book may be the breakthrough she needs.
If only her grumpy new neighbor would stop stomping around at all hours of the night.
Former firefighter Hill Dawson can't sleep. After losing part of his leg in a rescue gone wrong, he's now stuck in limbo. He needs to figure out what he's supposed to do with his life, and he can't let himself get distracted by the pretty redhead next door. But when someone breaks into Andi's place, Hill can't stop himself from rushing in to play the hero. Soon, a tentative bond forms between the unlikely pair. But what starts out as a neighborly exchange quickly turns into the chance for so much more...if Andi can learn to put aside her fear and trust in herself—and love—again.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
“What If You & Me” is the second book in Roni Loren’s Say Everything series and, I have to say, I liked it even more than the first(“Yes & I Love You”) and I Really loved that one! Though it is a series, they can both absolutely be read as standalones, but, if you can read them both, and in order, it gives a fantastic overarching view. Just sayin’!
Roni(Loren) has such a fantastic way of utilizing her experience as a mental health counselor and masters degree in social work to give us incredibly realistic characters…again!
Our heroine is Andi Lockley, a spunky redhead who writes horror novels under a surname and has a podcast about true crimes, horror films, and what we can learn from them about staying safe. Why is this what she is passionate about as an intelligent, beautiful young woman? She had an incredibly traumatic experience as a teen that greatly shaped her into the woman we meet in “What If You & Me”.
Hill Dawson, our male lead, is a retired firefighter, but not by choice. A tragic accident while working lead to him having a prosthetic from the knee down and burn scars on his body. Afterwards his fiancé broke up with him and he found out she was sleeping with one of his good friends. Ouch! So we really can’t blame him for being so depressed, grumpy, and standoffish.
Put these two in adjoining homes and you have yourself the set up of a truly cliché romance trope, but, thankfully, Roni put her realistic spin on it.
You don’t always get to be the badass heroin of your own story. Andi knows this all too well and realizes she’s letting her past trauma dictate way too much of her present and future. She’s an author and writes other people’s stories, why not be the author of her own story?? Rewrite, plan, and edit.
I am so here for this!! Women who have been through trauma have every right to rewrite their story going forward. They deserve it!
Andi chooses to rewrite her hesitancy for intimacy with men, and the flashbacks and panic attacks it causes, with Hill who is beYOND patient with her. She works to take back her desires and femininity to build a confidence that the psychopath tried to take from her so many years ago. This was my favorite transformation in the book: a hurt woman taking back her confidence and body in a realistic way, step by step, moment by moment. There is nothing quick and easy about it in the book and I think Roni put great thought and detail into this growth in the story.
We all would love to have someone stand beside us to face our demons, maybe because they have demons all their own: that is Hill. A man who is stepping up for Andi in a major way, but has plenty of his own issues to sort through. His depression is debilitating and he doubts that anyone could be genuinely attracted to him and it not be a “pity thing” because of his prosthetic.
Our leads didn’t have to hide what they were struggling with and that, in and of itself, helped them to go leaps and bounds in their healing; because they had each other and could understand someone with darkness like their own. It was really nice to get to read and think about how mentally, physically and emotionally people struggle and grow after different types of trauma.
I enjoyed that the conflict that ultimately pulls our main characters apart, in typical rom-com fashion, was brought on by actual struggles. These are very real human struggles(past trauma, depression, PTSD, etc.) so it didn’t bother me as much when I hit the cliché moment of a romance book where the couple “almost doesn’t work out”. No basic fear of commitment or “I’m not the right social status” for Roni’s characters!
Clearly I am in love with Roni Loren’s new rom-com style of writing and am chomping-at-the-bit to see if/when a book 3 shall arrive in this Say Everything series! Roni has truly got me hooked with her beautifully broken and realistic characters.
**While this book is fantastic, I do think it is very important that I let any potential readers know about some very specific triggers and sensitive topics mentioned throughout: talk of a psychopath and manipulator, a blind attack on a female, discussion of a fatal accident in a fire, PTSD, PTSD from a fire that resulted in a loss of a limb, PTSD from psychological manipulation, PTSD while being physical with another human being, discussion of a serial killer, depression, therapy techniques, home break in, internet trolls
Shana is a book-obsessed professional dancer, so she can be found either prancing around the center of a stage or hiding in a corner with a book: there is no in between.
Her #1 book love is adult fantasy. Give her all the magic, creatures, and curses and she is one happy girl! A good rom-com style romance book is another way to her book-loving heart.
Shana also claims the title of “mom” to the coolest 5 year old little dude out there and there is really no greater joy for her than watching his love for reading slowly growing to be as big has his momma’s!