Monday, June 2, 2014

Christie's Review: I Stand Before You by SR Grey


Title: I Stand Before You
Series: Judge Me Not #1
Author: S.R. Grey
Release Date: September, 2013
Rating:5 stars

A story of love, a story of hope. How can you move forward when you're anchored to the past?

When it comes to tattooed bad boys, Chase Gartner was the real deal. Partying, engaging in meaningless sex, getting into fights---Chase indulged in it all during his late teen years, thus firmly solidifying his status as a heartbreakingly gorgeous but way-too-dangerous-to-trust guy in his hometown of Harmony Creek, Ohio. Then, following one fateful night of reckless decisions, Chase's actions finally caught up to him and landed him in prison.

Now, four years have passed and Chase finds himself a free man. He returns to Harmony Creek, ready to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding his shattered life.

Things are off to a promising start when he meets Kay Stanton, a young woman with a tragic past of her own. Despite a powerful attraction, Chase and Kay are naturally hesitant to become involved. That's why friendship feels like the safest option. But when passions ignite and love blossoms, a relationship that is destined and meant to be can only be resisted for so long. When Chase and Kay finally succumb to their feelings they realize being together feels more right and true than anything they have ever experienced.

But their love is soon tested. Chase's wild past still haunts and tempts him, and Kay is keeping a secret that could tear them apart.

I Stand Before You is a journey of hope and forgiveness, coming to terms with the past and moving forward. But mostly it's a story of two damaged people who take a chance, open their hearts, and find true love.

I loved this book! This is one of those times I feel like smacking myself for waiting so long to try it out. This book was released back in September of last year and as it happens sometimes, it got lost in my growing mountain of to-be-read books. What I loved most about this book is how real it is. The characters, the challenges and tragedies they faced, and the struggle to overcome and heal from the past. It’s an eye-opening look into how life can take us in the most unexpected directions. Even those who seem to have everything going for them can suddenly be faced with bad luck and tragic events that will take them on a path they never expected to walk.

Although Chase made lots of bad choices through the despair in his life, you still understood him. His human imperfections and his struggle to not let his past define him. He wants more than anything to be a better man and do the right thing. Chase is not your typical NA bad boy, labeled “bad” simply for his ability to sleep with the most amount of women and never have a relationship. Chase IS the definition of bad. Or he was. Growing up, he had the ideal family life. Two parents deeply in love, living in an affluent neighborhood, and a little brother who idolized him and loved him. His father was a successful business owner and they were well taken care of. But after losing the business, a chain reaction started that would change his safe and happy world.

Hopelessness and Hunger.
Anger and Helplessness.

His life went on a downward spiral that was really heartbreaking to see. His days of sitting at his father’s grave asking “Why?” never produced any answers and he started seeking numbness through drugs- which led him to four years in prison. This is a guy who started out with so much hope for his future and through the consequences of his actions, now was looked at as no good. A criminal who did lots of bad things and got caught. Someone not to be trusted. The whole while reading this though, I never thought badly of him. The author had the ability to show us the good person underneath the bad choices. I still cared about him and wanted him to be strong and succeed at turning his life around.

Kay I loved as well. She is a young woman who's whole life is controlled by guilt and sadness at the perceived contribution to her little sister's death. Everyone in town looks at her as the sweet girl who tragically lost her sister and can't move on. Nobody knows the guilt she harbors or how she feels unworthy of happiness because of the past. Unlike Chase, she didn't didn't seek escape through numbness, but she has no friends or social life, nothing except a run down apartment in the worst part of town. Her mother abandoned her after her sister died and it caused her to blame herself even more. She didn't have a whole lot to look forward to-until Chase. They literally run into each other at the Church where they both work. They're seemingly two people who are complete opposites, but their lives have so many similar events that connect them.

I absolutely adored seeing these two cautiously and carefully grow a relationship together. He's this ex-con who had a past of violence and she's a sweet and quiet beautiful girl and you just see how they genuinely "get" each other. They're honest, they share their pasts, their feelings and their likes and dislikes. He treats her like she's special and she accepts him and doesn't judge him. They grow from strangers, to friends, to best friends, to quietly hoping for more. I was dying for them to admit their feelings. The comfort and happiness they gave each other was so beautiful. They gave each other hope when they thought all hope was lost.

When they finally admitted their feelings, I was ecstatic and giddy, every moment they were able to show their affection and tenderness toward each other. There was no rushing into anything and that's one of the things I loved. They had a strong foundation and it made you believe in every bit of their emotions. I loved how Chase always tried to make everything special for Kay and how he would clearly do anything for her. Their first time together was so sweet and romantic-it just illustrated how well he knew her and listened to paid attention when they talked.

Despite the perfect fit they have, their past is still causing conflict and there are many unresolved things threatening their perfect bubble. Kay hasn't told him her dark secret that she's only told to one person before and she's scared he won't understand. He still battles temptations of sinking back into drugs and fighting when life gets rough-but he has to do it-for Kay. He wants to be able to deserve her and be a man that his brother can look up to again. His brother seems to be struggling himself, and he doesn't know how to help him.

These two have a lot of healing to do and a lot of self-discovery is needed in order to accept themselves. I loved reading their journey and the fact that there wasn't a cliffhanger or a negative ending. It was left open for the continuation of their story in the next book and I was so happy to be able to jump right into it. I loved this story with these two very human and real characters trying to find happiness together. It was the perfect package. They were imperfectly perfect together.


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