The blurb as seen on Goodreads:Release Date: July 1, 2014
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.
I'm sure I looked like a frog, the way that I kept opening and closing my mouth while trying to come up with an appropriate answer. At this point, I was still in my reading slump (see my last post, if you are unsure what I mean). During the slump, I had read some good books; some were even great, but I was not able to connect with them on a meaningful level. So I wasn't able to say what I can now that I've read Harder.
Because books like Harder are why I read, why I blog about books, and why I believe in the power of storytelling.
Robin York is just as masterful in her writing of new adult fiction, as she is in adult as Ruthie Knox. Her words are powerful. Her stories are brave, and inspiring, and heartfelt, and maddeningly realistic. This author can make you hurt so badly, but she also does so well at bringing her readers joy. I would not hesitate to call York one of my favorite authors, and I recommend her books to anyone who would listen.
It's a formidable thing to be able to make someone cry, to make someone feel to the very core of themselves with a few mere words on a page. York does so effortlessly. This book is emotional on so many levels. Readers will watch as the beloved characters we met in Deeper fall apart, grow, discover themselves, and struggle to find happiness with themselves, and with those they hold most dear. This is not an easy read, though if you read Deeper, I'm sure you can imagine. It will not always inspire the giddy feelings commonly associated with romance novels. In fact, there were several times where I wanted to set the book aside, and calm my sadness and anger, but I honestly could not put the book down. I read it from start to finish in just a couple of hours.
Harder takes place a few months after the finale of Deeper. The relationship between Caroline and West has taken a downward turn filled with drunken phone calls, and sporadic texts as West stays with his family in Silt, and Caroline remains in Putnam. When West tells Caroline of a tragedy in his family, she immediately flies to him as support. What she finds is not what she expected. West is a different man. He's hurt, and angry, and harder than she's ever seen him. It's no longer just them against the world, but they must also finally battle their own personal demons to find happiness together.
The plot moved pretty quickly, in my opinion, but that worked for the story. This spanned over months, and during that time we got great insight into the growth and setbacks of these characters. The plot was magnificent. There were several points where I thought my heart was going to burst through my chest due to grief, but the story was real. This isn't a fantasy. Sadly, much of what occurs in this series is part of modern life. That's horrifying, and heart-wrenching, but true. York did well at creating a relatable story.
I adore these characters, but what really got to me is the relationships between them. Seeing Frankie and Caroline bond was beautiful. It melted my heart, and really made the story for me. Sure, I love Caroline and West, and I want them to be happy-in-love forever, but though the path of their relationship was important to the story, that was not the main focus. Harder was about family and friendship, growth, finding happiness with yourself, and learning how to come to terms with your past so you can create a great future. We watch Caroline grow as she dealt with more betrayal, familial drama, and the continuing civil suit against her ex, Nate, for posting their sex pictures online. We also see West, who is dealing with mistakes and pain from his past, and his own familial drama. It's difficult to read about their struggles and heartache, but it's amazing watching them transform throughout the story.
I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a book as much I enjoyed Harder. It is a phenomenal end to a series that I will reread often. I would recommend it to anyone, and everyone. There is so much to love, and so much to learn from the characters in this story. This is one tale that will linger with me for years, and years, and years. Robin York is a genius, and her fans are waiting with bated breath for her next release!
I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review via Netgalley.