On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well--until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street, where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded worlds to its core.
Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he's determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.
But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won't be satsified with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her...down to the very soul.
I didn't love this book but I found myself absolutely unable to put it down until I finished it. Same thing with the main character, Joss...while I didn't always like her, I felt that I always got her. The first person perspective gave me the insight into Joss that I needed to completely understand her decisions even when I totally disagreed with them and wished she would do almost anything else. Joss is a character who has lost everything in the most horrible of ways and has found a strong coping mechanism. The fact that the mechanism also seriously limits her choices isn't a strong enough deterrent because for Joss it works--it keeps her from getting hurt.
Braden is sexy and in-your-face with his desires and he makes it clear early and often that he desires Joss. When she asks him to back off, he does. For a while. Honestly, I didn't think I was going to care for Braden either, but by the middle/end of the book he had really grown on me. And Joss. My favorite character, however, was Ellie, Joss's roommate and Braden's sister. I am glad she has her own novella so that I can see more detail about her relationship with Adam.
The lead up to the ending of this book is painful, uncomfortable, and absolutely necessary to ensure that the ultimate HEA is at all believable...but man, did I wish I could skim a few chapters there. Instead, I was stuck, glued to the page as all of these different emotions were ripped out of Joss and Braden in the most brutal, and yet somehow healing, of ways. It was ugly and cathartic and I found myself trying to rewrite it in my head to smooth down some of the jagged edges but nothing I did made it better. Samantha Young took the chances and put her characters through the wringer because she had to--both Braden and Joss had developed behaviors that allowed them to cope and only be shattering the illusion that they worked at all were they able to move past them but holy hell did it hurt!! Thank goodness there was an epilogue to allow me time to move past the hurts and to see that it really was worth it to get to the other side of all that damage.
I stayed up past my bedtime to finish this book, laid in bed knowing I should be sleeping but instead reliving the ending, and woke up thinking about it again. That is the mark of a book that is going to stay with me for awhile. I am happy that this is the beginning of a series, but I'm not going to lie...I hope the next book has an easier path for its characters. I don't know if I can go through this again anytime soon.