Second book in the Restless Hearts series. Collin’s sister, Lia, who we saw as a flighty, hardcore girl, in the first book, is shown here as a broken girl who was attacked by the “nice” guy she was dating in college and almost raped. Before that incident, she was a nice, sweet and shy girl. After the incident, she dropped out from college, hid in her parent’s house for a while, then went out to work menial jobs. She changed her personality and her appearance. Now she sports a lot of piercings and tattoos and hot pink hair. She assumed a new personality, snarky and hardcore, but deep inside remains the same sweet girl. She just keeps her hidden very deep. She’s always loved Max but kept her distance because he’s her brother’s best friend. Likewise, Max has always been in love with her, but kept his distance, interacting only as best buds, so as not break the bro code.
During the book, we see Max acting as her protector various times, as she works in a bar. She protests and tries to keep him away, because she gets jealous when he flirts with other girls. There is a lot of back and forth between them as their attraction runs hot and they do the impossible to resist.
Meanwhile, Lia has been finishing her studies, paying for them from the couple of jobs she has, as a barista in Java Java and a bartender in Jimney’s. Her plans are to get a teaching job, which means moving from her little town where jobs are scarce. As she and Max get closer, her professional plans complicate matters.
Max was also dealing with his meaningless life. He, Collin, and Gavin had enlisted in the Marines and finished their round of duty. Now Max doesn’t know what he wants to do. He had inherited a big chunk of money from his father’s life insurance, so he had no immediate need for money, and was working at odd jobs, not keeping the jobs for long. He was accusing Lia of living an aimless life and she accused him of the same.
I liked in this book that the rest of the gang appear again as strong secondary characters. Lia’s brother Collin and his girlfriend, Addie, Collin’s adorable little daughter Chloe, and Gavin. Also Collin’s and Lia’s parents, and Max’s family appear less frequently. I like the strong family and friends group, their constant support to each other. What we saw as flighty in Lia was really that she was studying and working and was scattered in several directions. She was very devoted to her little niece. There was a lot of introspection and growing up for both Max and Lia.
What didn’t work for me was the constant back and forth between Lia and Max, which made the book drag a little halfway through.