A secret she’s kept hidden since she was eight years old, however, Mia will no longer allow that secret to define her. 

An irrevocable decision has left Mia Lee a fugitive and on the run—a circumstance that should leave her weak and scared, yet Mia has never felt so alive.

Under the pseudonym of Paige Cassidy, Mia is ready to live the life she’s never had, and she’s determined not to allow her tainted past dictate her promising future. 

Paige is on a Greyhound bus heading from L.A. to South Boston, Virginia, to start a new life. A life that includes finding her mother, who abandoned her at age three. But what she finds, is four people, who will change her life forever.

Yet no one can outrun their past…

Especially one filled with bitter memories, which refuse to remain hidden.

[First third of the book: 3.5 starsSecond third of the book: 4.5 starsLast third of the book: 3.5 stars]
This is the first book I’ve read from Monica James and it certainly won’t be the last! For those who know me and my eccentric reading tastes, I don’t do sweet, slow-building romances. Though this story deals with harsh & heavy issues that plague the characters’ lives, it was mostly a light-hearted and sweet romance with a side of suspense. The first thing that stood out to me was the push-and-pull dynamic between Quinn and Mia and their UST (unresolved sexual tension) – Monica James writes my kind of angst!
At the age of 8, Mia’s innocent and happy childhood came to an end. Her father wins the douchecanoe trophy as he forces Mia to become a drug pusher just to fuel his own junkie needs. Mia continues this bleak and nonexistent life until one day, her father pushes her too far and in a matter of seconds, she makes a life-changing decision.“In my world where it’s survival of the fittest, I had no choice. It was either him or me.”“And for once, I chose me.”
Hiding her real identity, Mia now goes on as Paige Cassidy, a tough-as-nails introverted gal but nevertheless a vulnerable person just looking for a place to belong. This is where she meets the four people “who will change her live forever.”

I’m not going to go in-depth about each of these characters because it is ultimately up to you to find out how each of those characters impact her life. I do want to say Monica James, are you trying to give me blue balls?! I normally complain about how much sex there is in books but in this book there wasn’t anywasn’t enough. *grabs BOB* Moving on now…
Like I said before, I don’t do sweet, slow-building romances but this one worked for me. Though it’s a bit unrealistic to how naïve Mia is in the sex department I liked that out of all the tainted, ugly things she had to live through, this was one aspect she kept her innocence in and got to really experience for herself. The plot pace isn’t too slow but not too fast either and I liked that the book moved at a very steady pace – it was exactly what I needed after a couple of emotional reads.

Despite Mia’s attempts to block out everyone and protect herself, she can’t help but let those 4 people into her life – inch by inch – and it really is a heartwarming process. Just thinking about is putting a smile on my face because I could tell she was meant to meet them and despite all the drama and tension that happened, they changed her for the better.
Monica James,

I have half a mind to hunt your Australian ass down, sit you in front of a computer, and not let you back up until you finish the next book. September/October for the next book????????? Write lady!! Time’s a-ticking!

Yes, there’s a killer cliffhanger and to be fair I did know about it ahead of time but come on! Knowing about a cliffhanger and then actually reading and experiencing it yourself are two different things – I was up pacing in my room at 5 in the morning, thank you very much.
Aside from the ending and a few minor annoyances, this book was a winner for me. Exactly what I needed after multiple angsty and emotional reads! I would definitely recommend this book but in all honesty, I would’ve preferred to wait until the next book released before starting this one. Then again (knowing how hot-headed and impatient I am) this blurb was too enticing for me to pass up and I just had to read it now.