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?
Summary taken from http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17032328-if-you-stay.
This story starts out... umm... let's say... graphic!? Quite literally, Courtney Cole wastes no time... ahem... "introducing" you to bad boy, Pax Tate, and as shocking as the first few pages were, I was absolutely drawn in! Pax was like a mystery just waiting to be solved. He is a tortured soul who buries his pain in drugs, Jack Daniels, and women. Sedating himself into oblivion is his long standing coping method and on one fateful night... it almost destroys him.
Enter, Mila Hill, a sweet and beautiful woman who gives Pax a reason to change. The connection and chemistry between them is instant and I loved that despite his bad boy tendencies, Mila saw that Pax was worth taking a chance on. Of course, his road to recovery is not one easily travelled. It is full of ups and downs, love and loss, and unimaginable pain. I was terrified to find out how Pax would handle everything thrown his way... Would he find strength and pull through or would he revert back to his old habits of narcotic filled avoidance? I found myself worrying and hurting right along with Mila as she struggled to be there for him.
While Mila wanted more than anything for Pax to make some changes, I really appreciated the fact that she never tried to "fix" him herself. She knew he had to want to fix HIMSELF if he was really going to change. She was absolutely there to help and support him, but she made sure that she took care of herself and guarded her heart when needed. She never let him use his problems as an excuse... he had to earn her love and put in the work to keep it.
"I'm just not that good at relationships. I haven't had any practice. But if you stay with me, if you stay...I promise that I will never leave you again. I will never shut you out again." -Pax
"I can't let you break my heart. I don't have much of it left." -Mila
If You Stay is definitely a dark and haunting story, but it is filled with moments of light and love. Oh and steaminess... The painting date... holy moly!
In all seriousness, Courtney Cole takes the darkest and ugliest moments of life and turns them into something beautiful and worthwhile. This book is such an amazing read. My only complaint is that it wasn't longer! I am really looking forward to Madison's story in the companion novel coming out sometime this year.
Happy Reading, y'all! =)