Also by this author: The Brave Line, Drive
Also in this series: My Oxford Year, You Have a Match
Series: Standalone
on April 17th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: PR Company, Wordsmith Publicity

They say it happens when you least expect it.

It did for me.

It started the moment I saw the simple message pop up on my computer screen:

Cameron’s Mac: Hi.

And when I met the eyes of the gorgeous man messaging me from across the coffee shop, I never thought my reply would lead to the most intense, sexual, and passionate relationship of my life.

We both agreed to check our bags at the door and put our future hopes and aspirations on the table.

It worked.

I fell in love with his no holds barred attitude, sexy smirk, and undeniably good heart . . . and for a while we forgot about our baggage. We happily tripped over it to get to the other, neither of us willing to show the contents of our pasts in the off chance it could ruin us.

We built our love on a foundation of gray.

It was life in black and white that threatened to tear us apart.

by Kate Stewart

If you’ve read DRIVE and loved it I’m happy, because it was my top favorite of 2017. If you expect The Real is a continuation or Drive 2 rethink – when has Kate Stewart ever recycled a story? She has an incredible gift of putting her own unique spin on every trope and plot. And you bet that she did that with The Real.

Cameron and Abbie are troubled characters. At a certain age almost everyone comes with baggage but Cameron and Abbie decide to leave theirs at the front door and start with a clean slate. The rules are: no expectations, no talk about the past, no absolutes – just getting to know the people they are now, being in the now. The time they spend together is full of laughter and new things, banter, joy and growing feelings. And for a while this works really well and in their favor but at some point you need to drag the skeletons out of the closet and talk about the things that shaped you into the person you are today, right?

It was always the pain that twisted love into a tragedy. Expectations ruined the rest.

But let me tell you about Abbie and Cameron.

All the swoons for Cameron – I fell in love with the King of Woo from the first moment. He so deserves this name – he has this charming personality, the sweet, untroubled one that makes you think “this man has everything in his life and yet he wants ME.” His romantic gestures make Abbie feel special, adored…wooed. He showers her with his affection and under his caring hands Abbie starts to bloom. Cameron is an unforgettable character, he was so honest and sweet about his feelings and adoration for Abbie. It was obvious that he fell in love with her early on.

“The only thing that could trump you today, Abbie, is you tomorrow. And I don’t want to be without you tomorrow.”

Abbie is highly suspicious of everyone. It’s not just a quirk though, it’s something she developed over the past years. Her inability to trust men has kept her from a change in her relationship status, a fact that she hates when everyone else is marrying the love of their lives. The cafe she goes to every Saturday is her safe haven, where she can pretend she is normal. When Cameron and Abbie set their rules it’s the first time in a while that she feels freed from the burden of her past. Abbie was funny and smart, cautious for having been burned in the past but I didn’t fault her for that. She needed to process everything at her own pace.

I have to admit that for a little while I didn’t think that Abbie deserved Cameron but her insight, her own moment of enlightenment, the way she covered every concern I had and came to the right conclusion made her perfect.

In a new world of second chances, I was the luckiest son of a bitch alive. I knew it.

I loved how their relationship developed at a slow simmer. Their exchanges were funny and adorable from the beginning, turning more personal with every meeting, taking it to the next level with the crescendo of a toe-curling kiss that will set your Kindle on fire.

“I want you. I’m not jaded anymore, Cameron.”
“I feel the same,” he whispered softly. “You’ve changed everything for me.”

There is one aspect in this story that lifts this book from great to fantastic – unfortunately giving details would spoil the story so I’m being very vague but it’s something that people don’t talk about although we know it exists. I thought it was a stroke of genius and I love that Kate Stewart built a story about this issue.

Ms Stewart tosses us into a hurricane of emotions and for a good portion of the book I was cursing at her for having my heart in a too-tight grip. Joy and delight is mixed with gut-wrenching pain and sorrow. There is tenderness and light-hearted banter and fun, passion and anger to find in this story. Emotional, thought-provoking and poignant – it’s what this author’s books are known for and the reason why I keep coming back to her for more. She makes it hurt so good. DRIVE will be hard to push off the pedestal of TOP FAVORITE but The Real comes close.


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