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Back To You by Priscilla Glenn
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Publish Date: October 20, 2012
When Lauren Monroe first laid eyes on Michael Delaney back in high school, she had every reason to stay away from him; within minutes of their first encounter, his volatile actions confirmed his notorious reputation. But Lauren saw something in him that caused her to question his bad-boy persona, and against her better judgment, she took a chance. She had no way of knowing that the unlikely friendship they formed would become so important to her.
Or that it would end so painfully.
Eight years later, when Lauren begins her new job at Learn and Grow Day Care, Michael is the last person she expects to see. Refusing to revisit the hurt and confusion of their past, Lauren vows to keep her distance from him. But staying away from Michael proves to be more difficult than she thought, despite her lingering grief and her instincts for self-preservation.
As Lauren and Michael recall the friendship that changed them forever and the events that tore them apart, will they finally be able to heal? Or will the ghosts of Michael’s past prove to be too much to overcome? -(summary from Goodreads)
My Thoughts: Oh, this story! I loved it so.
When we meet Lauren Monroe, she has just moved to a new place. She has started a new job and is furthering her education. Things are looking up…until the day Michael Delaney walks into her preschool to enroll his daughter. In an instant, time stands still and Lauren’s emotions are thrust back to a time of gut-wrenching heartache and pain. We don’t know what happened or why, or how, but we know that it has profoundly affected Lauren’s life. And we soon find out that it has affected Michael’s life as well.
Michael Delaney is the bad-boy at school with a chip on his shoulder. Always getting into trouble and hanging with a less-than-great crowd, people don’t give him respect or attention. When he walks into Lauren Monroe’s class one day, she notices something different about him. She can’t quite put her finger on it, but she sees something worthwhile behind those eyes. When Lauren shows him kindness, Michael pushes back with a little bit of standoffish rudeness. So she counters back with more kindness, and its as if Michael doesn’t know what to do with it. As he begins to accept her gestures of kindness, a slow – slow, very wary, very cautious – friendship begins to form. Over time, their friendship grows into a deeper friendship with a seemingly unbreakable bond. Despite being completely different – an absolutely unlikely pair – Lauren and Michael are the very best of friends and trust each other completely. As the friendship has deepened, though, each of them have discovered that their feelings have grown as well, and they have to decide what they each want to do about those feelings.
Priscilla Glenn uses the element of structure to tell help tell her story. She uses alternating time periods and perspectives to release information in small doses, giving us just what we need, when we need it. As we get to know both Lauren and Michael, and Michael’s sweet daughter, we grow to love them all. When we get glimpses into the past – in pain and in fun, in heartache and elation and joy – it only enhances how we feel about these characters. It takes a little while to find out exactly what the big thing was that broke Lauren’s heart. By the time we find out, we’re fully invested in the story and the characters.
Back To You is about friendship and romance and most of all, redemption. Lauren never gave a second thought to treating Michael with the utmost respect from day one for no other reason than he was a person and he deserved it – for that, Michael admired her. Michael’s childhood and teenage years were so very difficult and shaped him into a person filled with bitterness and anger and guilt, and because of that he never fully learned or understood how to treat this person that respected him just because, this person that was so important to him. The emotions that Michael felt toward Lauren – rooted in friendship – were palpable, and I felt his character deeply. The emotions that Lauren felt toward Michael – rooted in friendship – were wonderful. They were loving and graceful and kind. No matter what he said or did, no matter how bad he screwed up or how the rest of the world treated him, she always understood him at his core – his very heart – and I felt her feelings deeply as well. Reading Lauren and Michael fumble around in the present, fumbling around with a possible second chance that neither of them knew they would get, was emotional and heartbreaking at times, but it was also hopeful and wonderful.
I loved this book. I loved getting to know Lauren and I loved getting to know Michael. I loved getting to know them together as friends, and I loved reading their present-day story of sorting everything out. Even though it touched my heart, it wasn’t sappy at all. I’ve read that Back To You is an adult contemporary romance, but I feel pretty comfortable calling it adult/new adult contemporary romance. I think that older YA/new adult readers would really love this book and I would recommend it wholeheartedly.
“I always knew I would fall in love with you,” he said softly, “But you were never supposed to love me back.”
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