Also by this author: The Fall Up, The Fall Up
Also in this series: The Real, My Oxford Year
on January 5, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Tropes: Second Chance, Friends to Lovers
Growing up, Ramsey Stewart branded my soul in ways time could never heal.
At twelve, he asked me to be his girlfriend.
At thirteen, he gave me my first kiss.
By sixteen, we’d fallen in love, planned a future together, and had our eyes set on the horizon.
Love never fails, right?
But for Ramsey, it did.
Love failed him.
I failed him.
The entire world failed him.
At seventeen, Ramsey was convicted of killing the boy who assaulted me.
Move on, he wrote in his first and only letter from prison.
Start a new life, he urged.
I don’t love you anymore, he lied.
There was no such thing as giving up on Ramsey. Love may have been our curse, but he was mine—then, now, and forever.
So here I am, twelve long years later, waiting for a man I don't even know to emerge from between the chain link gates.
by Aly Martinez
Time and timing is the theme that drives RELEASE. The time when Ramsay Stewart entered Thea Hull’s life. The time it took for them to become friends. When they shared their first kissed. When they went far beyond kissing for the first time. And when Ramsey left Thea’s side for just a moment and their lives changed yet again. And the years that followed after, when Thea was counting every day, every minute, every second, until she would see the man again who told her he didn’t love her anymore.
“Because when I was ten years old, I met a boy. I hated him. But I needed him like my veins needed blood. He broke my leg. He broke my patience. And eventually he broke my heart. But there hasn’t been a minute that’s passed that I haven’t loved him with every single broken shard.”
Thea hated Ramsay when she met him but at that time she would have hated anyone, there was so much bitterness in her. Ramsay’s smile, his cheerfulness, his persistence of not letting Thea’s abrasive behavior drive him away broke through her walls and they became first best friends, then lovers and then…nothing. The tables have turned and it is now Thea fighting for Ramsay. Isn’t that beautifully righteous? And fight she does. Damn that girl can play dirty. I loved how she just soldiered on although she was dying inside from the hurt Ramsay delivered because he thought he needed to protect her.
I’m not giving up on you, Ramsey. I don’t care if you want me to. I don’t care if it means you ice me out for all of eternity. I don’t even care that you’ve already quit on me. I once promised that it was you and me forever. Do you remember that? You made me swear it.”
Ramsay was perfect for Thea. He hid his awful family life and abandonment issues behind a perma-smile, took care of everyone and everything who needed him. And he paid for it. The weeks following his release from prison, his adjustment to life outside his cell was heartbreaking to watch but the author managed to infuse some humor (cue Siri) that lightened the mood and helped to handle the emotional roller coaster. And this is what Aly excels at – her stories are perfectly balanced and never drift into the trap of too much angst.
“I can’t do this without you.”
He lifted one shoulder in a half shrug. “Breathe.”
Thea and Ramsay are two of the most resilient people I’ve read about in a while – they have that survivor’s gene that just won’t let them give up, no matter how dire the situation looks. But I guess, when you know you’re fighting for your soul mate there is no such thing as giving up. Thea and Ramsay were meant to be but until they were allowed to have their happily ever after my heart took quite a beating. But that’s Aly Martinez for you – she makes you hurt and earn those happy moments. She makes sure that you deserve that happy ending when you get there.
“Sometimes you have to let go of the life you planned in order to live the one you’re given.”
RELEASE is told in the present and a long flashback in the beginning, that takes up about a third of the story. I loved watching Thea and Ramsay’s friendship grow into more but for a short while I was a little worried that the page time that was left wouldn’t be enough to address every thing that needed to be tied up. But I shouldn’t have worried. This book left me satisfied in every way. In typical Aly Martinez fashion there is a twist there you don’t see coming. While you’re reading and feeling quite safe and optimistic, all of a sudden you’re left reeling and flailing and wondering WTF just happened. I LOVE that.
If you always wanted to try one of Aly Martinez’s books, this is a great place to start. RELEASE is a complete standalone with new characters that will give you all the feels, some humor, intense storytelling and a beautiful story about soulmates who deserve their HEA.
And then Ramsey kissed me, deep and frantic like a boy. Gentle and skilled like a man. All-consuming and claiming like my forever. And he did it all tasting like watermelon gum.