Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.
Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up — she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.
Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.
As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.
Lily and her ex-husband, Ryle, have just settled into a civil coparenting rhythm when she suddenly bumps into her first love, Atlas, again. After nearly two years separated, she is elated that for once, time is on their side, and she immediately says yes when Atlas asks her on a date.
But her excitement is quickly hampered by the knowledge that, though they are no longer married, Ryle is still very much a part of her life—and Atlas Corrigan is the one man he will hate being in his ex-wife and daughter’s life.
Switching between the perspectives of Lily and Atlas, It Starts with Us picks up right where the epilogue for the “gripping, pulse-pounding” (Sarah Pekkanen, author of Perfect Neighbors) bestselling phenomenon It Ends with Us left off. Revealing more about Atlas’s past and following Lily as she embraces a second chance at true love while navigating a jealous ex-husband, it proves that “no one delivers an emotional read like Colleen Hoover” (Anna Todd, New York Times bestselling author).”
I couldn’t help myself. I succumbed to Amazon’s repeated suggestions that I just had to have these books. Then my library started to suggest I read the duology, and I saw the books mentioned on social a few times. All right, already, I’ll get the books on audio so I can listen to them at work. I did it without even reading a single synopsis or review; I went on popularity alone.
There are quite a few trigger warnings for this book, domestic abuse being the biggest one. While that did not deter my enjoyment of the story, had I known what the books were about I might not have picked them up. I’ve been trying to find more positive books to read that aren’t as dark as some of the books I’ve read the past few years. However, the abuse is handled sensitively and is part of the narrative, not just thrust in there to add drama to the story.
I just got done reading a book about bumping into a first love and all the twisted emotions and baggage that carries. With domestic abuse thrown in with these two books, the emotional aspect is heightened tenfold. For the first book in the series, It Ends With Us, Hoover does a great job displaying a charming, successful, seemingly great catch in Ryle. This is how it is in real life with abusers. Their outward appearance and social behaviors outside the home are impeccable; no one would suspect them of abuse. Lily has already seen her share of abuse in her childhood, and she unknowingly picks a man who turns violent. While the violence isn’t brutal, any raised hand to a loved one should be taken seriously, and I think that’s what the author was trying to get across.
I came away from It Ends With Us knowing that I wanted the story to continue, and it is lucky I didn’t discover these books until the sequel was already out. I wanted to know more about Atlas and his past, wanted Lily to truly move on from Ryle, although realizing that as the father of her child, he’d always be a few steps away. I wasn’t sure if I wanted Atlas and Lily to end up together because how often do childhood sweethearts make it, but I definitely wanted to see that aspect explored.
Both It Ends With Us and It Starts With Us are the best sort of women’s fiction out there. Well-written, fully drawn characters, a compelling story, and a satisfying resolution. I’m glad I took the chance.
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