Title: When You Come Back to Me by Emma Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Release Date: September 27, 2020
Format: e-ARC (386 pages)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M-m Romance
Blurb: At Santa Cruz Central High School, they called them the misfits, the outcasts, the weirdos. But most of us knew them as the Lost Boys…
Holden Parish survived his parents’ horrific attempts to make him “the perfect son.” After a year’s stint in a Swiss sanitarium to recover, he has vowed to never let anything–or anyone–trap him again. Brilliant but broken, he seeks refuge behind alcohol, meaningless sex, and uses his wicked sense of humor to keep people away. He only has to ride out one year in the coastal town of Santa Cruz with his aunt and uncle before he inherits his billions and can make his escape. Disappear.
Falling in love is not in the plans.
River Whitmore. Star quarterback of the Central High football team, Prom King, Mr. Popular, ladies’ man. He leads the perfect life…except it’s all a lie. His father has River’s future in the NFL all planned out, while River’s dream is to run the family business in the town that he loves. But his mother’s illness is tearing the family apart and River is becoming the glue that holds them together. How can he break his father’s heart when it’s already shattering?
River’s carefully-crafted façade explodes when he meets Holden Parish. A guy who dresses in coats and scarves year-round, drinks expensive vodka, and spends his free time breaking into houses for the fun of it. They’re complete opposites. River seeks a quiet life, away from the spotlight. Holden would rather have dental surgery than settle down.
Holden’s demons and River’s responsibilities threaten to keep them apart, while their undeniable attraction crashes them together again and again, growing into something deep and real no matter how they resist.
Until one terrible night changes everything.
#MMromance ~ Please note, this book contains spoilers for The Girl in the Love Song.
This is the second book in the Lost Boys series and I urge you to read book 1 as well as Someday Someday first. The foundation laid by those books will greatly enhance your understanding and enjoyment of this book.
Lost Boys is an aptly named moniker for River and Holden because they are both floundering under the weight of their inner turmoil. River is all American football quarterback, who was trying to deal with his mother’s deteriorating health due to cancer as well as his family’s expectations. Holden just got out of a sanitarium in Switzerland which was supposed to help him deal with the abuse and damage he sustained as a result of his time at the Conversion camp in Alaska. These two boys were just in need of healing, love, support and acceptance for who they are.
These two guys had different ways of coping with their pain. River did his best to take care of everyone at the expense of his own happiness. River also worked hard to hard his sexuality lest people see him as less than perfect. Holden on the other hand chose to do whatever he could to keep people at arm’s length because he doesn’t believe he deserves compassion and love. He was flamboyant in his showing of how much he didn’t need anyone.
Both character’s parents contributed to their kid’s pain whether it was knowingly or unknowingly. Holden’s parents were some of the worst parents a kid could ever had. They completely decimated his sense of self-worth and never gave him any love especially when he was clearly crying out for love. River’s mom was dying and his father got so wrapped up in his own pain that River had to prop him up while making sure his little sister was okay. It was too much to ask a young man who was still trying to find his own truth.
The author did a great job highlighting issues high schoolers deal with such as parents living their dream through their children, sexuality, alcohol, mental torture, grief and loss, academic pursuits, social and peer rejection, etc. River and Holden’s journey to finding the own’s life purpose as well as love was a really bumpy ride. As always, Emma Scott writes such visceral love stories. It was emotionally intense and angst-filled. For most of the book, the characters were sad and painful. There were flashes of happiness but they felt fleeting until the end of the book. I was happy that River and Holden were able to fight their way back to each other and find healing together. I gave this book a four star instead of five because the strongest feeling I had at the end was relief. While I was happy for everyone in the book, I was happier that the emotional roller coaster was at an end for me. I just don’t think I could read this book again.
*Special thanks for the e-book given in exchange for an honest review.
I adored that story! Emma writes amazing characters!