Review: If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1) by Courtney Cole




24-year old Pax Tate is an asshole.

He’s a tattooed, rock-hard bad-boy with a bad attitude to match.

But he’s got his reasons.

His mother died when Pax was seven, leaving a hole in his heart filled with guilt although he doesn’t understand why. What he does know is that he and his dad are left alone and with more issues than they can count.

As Pax grew up, he tried to be the kid his father always wanted; the perfect golden boy, but it didn’t work. His dad couldn’t overcome his grief long enough to notice and Pax couldn’t keep up the impossible perfect façade.
So he slipped far, far from it.

Now, he uses drugs and women to cope with the ugliness, the black void that he doesn’t want to deal with. If he pretends that the emptiness isn’t there, then it isn’t, right?

And it’s never more apparent than when he meets Mila.
Sweet, beautiful Mila Hill is the fresh air to his hardened frown, the beauty to his ugly heart. He doesn’t know how to not hurt her, but he quickly realizes that he’s got to figure it out because he needs her to breathe.

When memories of his mother’s death resurface from where he’s repressed them for so long, Mila is there to catch him when the guilt starts making sense. Mila is the one…the one who can save him from his broken troubled heart; from his issues, from the emptiness.

But only if he can stop being an asshole long enough to allow it.

He knows that. And he’s working on it.

But is that enough to make her stay?


Don’t let this sunny, cute cover fool you, this ain’t no fluffy read! Although I didn’t love it, I liked this book. There were a few things that were a little over the top, in my opinion, and considering how much these characters went through it was a little too easy, but the writing style is really good and the story is interesting, alternating Pax and Mila’s povs.

And then I watch as they do chest compressions, which can only mean one thing. His heart stopped. At that realization, mine feels like it stops as well. I don’t know why. I don’t even know him. But being thrown into this intense situation makes me feel connected to him. It’s a stupid notion, but I can’t help feeling it. Even though the only thing I really know about him is his name. Pax.

At the begining of the book we’re thrown into Pax’s life, not really a life full of rainbows and unicorns. His mom died when he was little, and even though he doesn’t remember what happened he feels guilty. He has always the same dream, in which his mom is crying and begging for him, but he never gets to see what happens next. Pax’s dad never got over his wife’s death, so his relationship with Pax is next to non-existent. In the first chapter Pax is using drugs with a lady friend, Jill, and doing other things. Jill then leaves, and Pax keeps doing drugs, but this time he overdoses. Fortunately for him, Mila happens to walk by his car, and finds him covered in vomit (that scene was very gross but realistic). If it weren’t for her, he would have died that night.

I know I should tell her to run far, far from me, but of course I don’t. She’s like a ray of sunshine in the bleak hospital room and I soak her up. She’s got good, healthy energy and I like the way it feels to talk with her. She’s like a breath of fresh air. I may be the Big Bad Wolf, but even wolves need to breathe.

Even though Pax refers to himself as the Big Bad Wolf, I didn’t see him as a bad guy. Yeah of course he does drugs and drinks, but he’s not an addict, and he admits immediately that he does what he does because he doesn’t know how to cope with the void he feels. As soon as he meets Mila, he shows interest and he feels like he’s not good enough for her. But he doesn’t do anything to cover his vulnerability with her, he’s honest and real. He’s not playing games with her, since the very start.

I am pulled inexplicably to him. I can’t explain it. It’s not logical. Maybe it is the vulnerable look hiding in his glittering hazel eyes; the eyes that almost seem warm, but contain too much past hurt to quite allow that, so they appear hard instead.

Mila notices it. She’s a nice girl, a painter, who lost her parents to a car accident a few years back. She’s a really interesting character. She’s cute, funny and a little bad sometimes (Pax appreciates it).

His lips twitches. “Oh, Red. If you want to turn up the heat, you’ve got to be careful not to get burned by the fire.” And as I stare into his hazel eyes, at the golden flames there, I have the distinct feeling that I could get very, very burned.

Mila is really caring and sympathetic. She never pushes Pax too much, she obviously wants him to get over whatever is tormenting him, but she knows that he has to take the step toward recovering by himself. But she encourages him. And that’s enough for now.

I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as Mila looks walking toward me across the dining room. It’s not just because she’s gorgeous. It’s because she’s walking toward me. To be with me. Even if it’s only for tonight or for now. I gulp and grin at her. She smiles back and everything seems right with the world, a strange and unusual feeling for me.

The book is full of cute scenes like this because really Pax is so sweet, but everything is tainted by his past. And when he finally remembers what happened he shuts down. What happened was unspeakable, and everything gets into perspective for the reader, but Mila and Pax’s relationship falls apart.

If I am alone in the dark, nothing matters. I can’t hurt anyone but myself and I fucking deserve it. I close my eyes and let the darkness cradle me. It can fuck me for all I care.

Mila doesn’t know how to help him, and in the end only Pax can. Pax doesn’t feel worthy of love and everything that went down with the people who were supposed to love him seems to prove him right. But Mila believes that love never fails, is she right? Is love enough? Will Pax ever be able to believe it too? Read If You Stay and you’ll find out!

manuela calloway sisters


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