Harder (Caroline & West, #2) by Robin York
Published: July 1, 2014 by Bantam
Source: From the publisher via Netgalley
In Robin York’s provocative new novel, two young ex-lovers find themselves together again in the shadow of tragedy—and an intense, undeniable attraction.
Caroline still dreams about West. His warm skin, his taut muscles, his hand sliding down her stomach. Then she wakes up and she’s back to reality: West is gone. And before he left, he broke her heart.
Then, out of the blue, West calls in crisis. A tragedy has hit his family—a family that’s already a fractured mess. Caroline knows what she has to do. Without discussion, without stopping to think, she’s on a plane, flying to his side to support him in any way he needs.
They’re together again, but things are totally different. West looks edgy, angry at the world. Caroline doesn’t fit in. She should be back in Iowa, finalizing her civil suit against the ex-boyfriend who posted their explicit pictures on a revenge porn website. But here she is. Deeply into West, wrapped up in him, in love with him. Still.
They fought the odds once. Losing each other was hard. But finding their way back to each other couldn’t be harder. [goodreads]
At the conclusion of the first book, after Caroline and West had spent months wading through murky waters, it ends with a sigh of relief when they are able to finally grab hold of one another and pull each other out. As the second book begins, that relief is quickly smashed to pieces and both Caroline and West find themselves in turbulent waves, crashing to pieces along the shoreline of what's left of their relationship.
Robin York stands out as a New Adult writer in my eyes. Since I know her adult work through her name Ruthie Knox, I am familiar with her writing, and the brilliant way she can weave a story full of depth and passion into a book that is difficult to put down. For this particular division of the literary world, she's carved out a special place for herself. One that I am certain to recommend to reluctant NA readers.
HARDER is the story about two young adults, learning to let go of their baggage and take that next step forward, together. Caroline's character shined bright in the dark depths of this companion novel. She was no longer the girl who fell victim to a hateful crime. She found her own two feet and stood firm for what she believed in. West, with all his faults (and believe me, they can be a bit disturbing in this novel), is what her heart continues to believe in. As West faces demons from his past, his actions threaten to break Caroline's spirit. Because of these actions and other themes present in this story, I do not feel comfortable recommending this book to a younger audience. It is definitely meant for more mature readers. The baggage that West carriers around with him evolves into a larger part of who he is and continues to be.
The passion between Caroline and West is just as intimate and real in the second part of their story as it was in the first. Robin York has a way with words that can leave the pages smoldering and your heart beating rapidly out of your chest. This type of romance definitely possess a mature tone. The idea to not only survive, but to thrive, weaves its way into both Caroline and West's lives. HARDER is a story littered with heartbreaking moments that will cause you think far beyond the pages.