#1 Still Standing Series
Release Date: September 1, 2013
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Source: I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis from Goodreads
Your own two feet are all you have when you've been left.
A naive Baylee loves Colt, her boyfriend of four years, more than she ever thought possible. After a little snooping, she's convinced she's well on her way toward hearing an once-in-a-lifetime proposal and starring in the wedding-of-the-year event. Instead, she's blindsided by a very public breakup and the crushing news that Colt is marrying someone else… someone more befitting him and the role his father expects him to take in his law firm.
Baylee may have spent years resenting Ariana, her mother, and her suicide, an intolerable show of weakness in Baylee's opinion, but after Colt leaves her just short of the altar, Baylee sees the world through her mother's eyes. She sympathizes with Ariana's actions and realizes that some things—soul-deep aches—can irreparably damage you and make moving on nearly impossible.
At least that's how she feels until she meets Ryker. With his help, Baylee discovers there is life after Colt, and she prepares to move on by pulling herself up by the bootstraps, holding her head high, and standing on her own two feet. Unfortunately, a new jealous and hateful Colt has his own plans for her, and they are plans no one—especially Baylee—ever saw coming.
Holy s#it! This is one intense read! There are so many twists and turns - I had a really hard time putting Left down. Having read Ms. Graves before, I knew I liked her writing style. But Left...it just blew me away! I hope I can put my feelings into words in some sort of coherent manner...
Baylee Messenger suffered the traumatic loss of her mom when she was only 10. Twelve years later, she has a college degree, a successful career, and a loving, stable boyfriend of four years. Life seems grand, even if she and Colt, her boyfriend, don't see as much of each other as she'd like. They're both young workaholics, but she feels safe and confident in their relationship.
Until she's doesn't. Colt ends their relationship, at his father's request, in a very public, very ugly fashion. Not only does he end things, he also tells her he's marrying someone else! Now, Baylee finds herself humiliated and unable to afford much. She never thought she'd find herself in this situation much less finding an understanding of her mother's actions from so long ago. But Baylee's strong. Standing on her own two feet is absolutely within her power.
Colt Henderson III is painted as a loving boyfriend but also an approval-seeking workaholic. We don't get a good picture of him prior to the present other than he's asked Baylee for quite a lot in their four years together...moving several times, giving up her career in nursing... After their breakup, Colt begins behaving very erratically. Baylee finds herself scared of him but also wanting to help him. But she's going to need help.
Luckily, Ryker Russell happens to be in the right place at the right time. Ryker is such a true gentleman. He also happens to have firsthand experience in dealing with some of the things Baylee is currently living through. He's more than happy to lend a helping hand. The relationship development between Baylee and Ryker is so well done. Things happen rather quickly, yes, but it all happens during such intense circumstances that it totally works.
As for those intense circumstances, I can't say much without spoiling the story. But the suspense Ms. Graves creates had me flying through the pages, and gasping at each new twist in the plot -- Or crying aloud at a new revelation. There are so many surprising curves and shifts, I actually said aloud 'what a tangled web we weave' at one point. And even better, I never saw these things coming.
The supporting cast of characters is well developed, even if they don't appear often. Eden, essentially the 'other woman', is quite something. I anticipate seeing much more of her in the next installment. She's the consummate rich princess, getting whatever she wants by whatever means necessary. I hope Baylee gets to knock her down a few notches.
What made Left such a rich reading experience are the details. Ms. Graves has the ability to draw such sharp imagery; her words create the pictures in my mind -- and I love that. Also, as Ms. Graves is a nurse, her knowledge of healthcare enriched both Baylee's and Ryker's characters (she's a healthcare consultant, his company does work in healthcare), it also made scenes within the hospital more genuine. Other details that enhanced the story, at least for me, were Ms. Graves' accuracy in describing Texas, the setting. Her descriptions of downtown Houston, the Riverwalk in San Antonio, were so on-the-nose, it made for a very authentic feel.
Since this is the first in the series, Baylee's story is not over. Thank goodness! I, for one, certainly hope the wait for the next book isn't too long. I really, really loved this book. It kept my tummy tied in knots. I'm completely emotionally invested in these characters. I am so anxious to see what's next for Baylee as she continues learning to stand on her own...with Ryker by her side?
Seriously, Ms. Graves...when is the next one coming?!?
T. R. Graves, the author of The Warrior Series and The Secrets Series and The Underwater Series, is a 2012 NaNoWriMo Winner.
She lives along the Texas coast with her husband. Together, they raise T. R.'s beta reading daughter and their football-loving son. Besides being blessed with a supportive family, she counts her career as a registered nurse in not-for-profit hospitals high on her list of fulfilling accomplishments.