Title: All In
Series: Full Tilt #2
Author: Emma Scott
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Rating: 5 stars
Reeling from her loss, Kacey Dawson is grieving and heartbroken, her addictive demons hauling her back into the alcohol-soaked abyss she worked so hard to crawl out of. Kacey teeters on the edge of oblivion, and must fight her way through the pain, to build a new life for herself with her music, and somehow fulfill the promise she made to Jonah…one she feels is impossible to keep.
Theo Fletcher has a secret burning in his heart, one that he holds close, while he struggles to keep strong for his family that is falling apart. His mother’s health is fragile and his father’s disapproval is breaking him down. Theo is afraid if he follows his heart, he’ll fail, and not just himself, but his brother who believed in him when no one else did.
Drawn together by their pain, Theo and Kacey slowly build a friendship, re-forge old ties, help each other to heal, and give one another the courage to reach for their dreams. Together, from the depths of grief and guilt, they learn to laugh again, to trust again, and quite possibly find something beautiful and lasting amid the shattered pieces of their broken hearts.
Emma Scott has created something so special with these characters in the Full Tilt Duet. I wish I had the proper words to express how much they have affected me. Let me put it this way, there are some books that you read, enjoy, and you feel satisfied over the few brief hours that you sat and immersed yourself inside the pages. But then there are ones like these that will never stop touching you, enriching you for having read them.
If you've read Full Tilt, you know that Kacey is dealing with the kind of crippling pain that encompasses her entire life. After the loss that she suffered, she's unable to function, unable to breathe with the memories that she is left with. Removing herself from her new friends and falling back into her old habits has sent her in a dangerous downward spiral all over again. This was probably some of the hardest pieces of the books to read. Her pain was expressed so vividly, so honestly. It wasn't brutally sad like the last book, just more of a throbbing ache. I got teary eyed, but I had complete faith that with Theo's support, she would come out the other side of her grief and be stronger for it.
My fears that Theo wouldn't be able to meet the towering expectations that have been built were not realized. He was simply amazing in his own way, I loved him for his loyalty, his giving heart, and his strength. He is the rock that everyone leans on, but asks for no recognition or thanks in return. Easily taken for granted and underappreciated by some and that really made me empathize with him. Not only is he suffering the loss just as strongly as Kacey, but he's shouldering everyone's burden without complaint. He has to hold up those he loves, even though inside he's breaking apart.
Realizing Theo wasn’t only there for Jonah during the worst moments of his life. He was there for a lot of other people too. Taking their pain, listening to it, deconstructing it. Turning it around and giving it back to them as a piece of art. Uniquely their own, just as pain is unique to the person who bears it.
I'm not going to give much more away about the plot. This book was about triumphing over grief, healing, and acceptance of what we can't change. It's also about grasping happiness in life wherever you may find it, and cherishing the gifts that we've been given.
Kacey and Theo didn't have a traditional path to love. It was twisted and filled with heartache, guilt, and fear over whether or not they were doing the right thing. Theo made a promise, and fulfilling that promise left him conflicted, very much torn. I think that their emotional struggle was very realistically done. And by the end, I got what I've been waiting for all these months after reading Full Tilt. Closure and hope.
There were a lot of tears shed. At times in the previous book I felt like their grief was too heavy to stand. But turning the last pages of All In, I knew I wouldn't take back reading these for anything. These characters didn't fade one bit in my mind since I read the previous book and I'm pretty sure they never will. Kacey, Jonah, and Theo will forever be old friends of mine, ready to be revisited many times to come.
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