I wanted to know more about these two characters since Ella and Micha’s first book, and Ms. Sorenson did not disappoint. These characters were tortured with complex feelings and problems at their core.
This was a sweet, sometimes heart-breaking story of self-discovery, and self-forgiveness; of learning to be at peace within your own skin once you’ve discovered who you really are. It’s also a story about trust; learning to trust others with your feelings and body and life and being able to depend on that person to handle your trust with care.
Lila was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and her mother’s wicked tongue in her ear. By both parents she was verbally abused and neglected. At home she was drowning in the expectations of perfectionism. She was debased and not allowed to behave as a child, that is, she was not allowed to make mistakes, mess up, have fun, be real. She was thrown away to boarding school where her parents didn’t have to deal with her. While there, a 14-year-old Lila endures a horrific tragedy that would have most parents screaming from their roof tops about. But not hers. No, her parents were disgraced by Lila’s choices, again. Because, really, shouldn’t a 14-year-old know better? Her mom believed so. So her mom came and carted her back home to continue the torment. All the while, Lila continued to spiral. The one thing her mom taught her that she carried with her, was find a rich man who will take care of you. Eventually, Lila goes to college in Vegas and meets Ella and the gang which is where we have met her before.
Enter Ethan. Ethan has had his own dark past. Growing up in a household of verbal and physical abuse directed mainly at his mother, but for a brief duration at him as well. His father was an angry man who also abused drugs. Ethan has images of his mother cowering in the corner to try and get away from his father. He can hear his father yelling at her, the insipid words and phrases used. He can also remember what it felt like for that period of time he too went through the hell of being beaten. Ethan never understood why his mother stayed with his father, only that she said she LOVED him. If this was what love was and how relationships worked, Ethan wanted nothing to do with one – ever! He made his rules and would stick to them. Or so he thought.
The two of them are left alone in Vegas after Micha and Ella return to California. We see them tackle their demons together and slowly, oh so slowly, but beautifully, lean to trust and depend on one another – falling in love with each other.
Ethan: For Lila, the realization that what you have is less important than substance, and that substance comes from real, meaningful relationships with other people, was overwhelming and powerful.
Lila: “I think I may have just fallen in love with him.”
“He’s real. And I want real, not the deception of it that sometimes comes with wealth and money.”
“All those years of feeling worthless, unloved, unworthy of love. God, it hurt more than I let on.”
“…You changed me, Ethan Gregory, and in a good way.”
I definitely recommend this book.