A new adult novel from Entangled's Embrace imprint...
The secrets he's keeping from that night could destroy everything again...
Nineteen-year-old Kelsey Larkin's parents uninvited her to her brother's funeral. She just wanted to wear jeans and a T-shirt-the clothes Kyle would've wanted her in-not wrap herself up in death. So she watched the funeral from afar, like an outsider. Which is just how she feels.
Chase came, though, just like she knew he would. Until a few months ago, the three of them had been best friends, and then Chase made a mistake that shattered both families. But when Kelsey looks at him, she doesn't see her brother's killer. She sees the boy next door who's always taken care of her. She sees home.
When Chase tells her his feelings run deeper than friendship, she can't help but get lost in him. In Chase, she finally has the closure she's been unable to find anywhere else. But the boy she's falling in love with is still hiding secrets about the night Kyle died. Secrets that could destroy everything they have...again.
About the Author
Erin Butler is lucky enough to have two jobs she truly loves. As a librarian, she gets to work with books all day long, and as an author, Erin uses her active imagination to write the kind of books she enjoys reading. Young Adult and New Adult books are her favorites, but she especially loves the ones with kissing scenes.
Erin lives in Central New York with her very understanding husband, a stepson, and doggie BFF, Maxie. She prefers to spend her time indoors reading and writing, but will venture out for chocolate and sunshine. She is the author of BLOOD HEX, a YA paranormal, and HOW WE LIVED, her first NA novel.
Read an Excerpt
How We Lived
By Erin Butler, Heather Howland, Kari Olson
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Erin Butler
All rights reserved.
Mother Nature was a bitch. Really. The whole world couldn't give a crap about me right now. Or Kyle.
The name pinched my chest so hard I had to take another breath to swallow it down. Hidden beneath the shade of a huge oak tree, I drew my knees up and hugged them to my chest.
Kyle died five months ago, the weather in New England too cold to lay him to rest, the ground frozen and immovable. I once thought my parents' relationship was as impenetrable as the solid, unyielding December soil. Apparently, I was wrong.
Down a little hill and off to the right, my mother and father sat in fancy white folding chairs dressed in head-to-toe black, stiff as the starch Mom used on their nice clothes — or more like two metal rods had been shoved up their asses. My mother pressed a matching handkerchief to the corner of each eye while my dad stared straight ahead. The distance between them was noticeable, palpable.
Mother Nature drew this whole fucking thing out. If we could have put Kyle in the ground when he died, maybe my dad wouldn't be sleeping on the couch, maybe I wouldn't need to take summer courses, and maybe I wouldn't have had to sit under a massive tree in May while the sun streamed down through the leaves, watching my brother's casket lower into the ground.
Sunny days were for lying on the beach, taking walks, and kissing boys. They were for happy things, not things that made you want to throw up your heart and toss it into the casket with everything else that had been taken away.
Fuck this. I was done. I'd mourned Kyle already. I hadn't stopped mourning him. Was some stupid ceremony supposed to make me feel better somehow? Some stupid ceremony that drew out five months of grieving, five months of wondering where Kyle's body was, five months of feeling like the world was continuously punching me in the gut? I moved to stand, but a hand on my shoulder pushed me down. Chase. I knew even before meeting his big brown eyes.
He was dressed in black, too. A suit and tie. Curls of dark hair wrapped around his ears, and shadows lined his face, but that wasn't anything new. If anyone held true to the dark, brooding, reckless stereotype, it was Chase. In high school, the girls swooned so much they practically curtsied in his presence. Me? No effect. Not really. I was his best friend's little sister. Was being the most important word. They weren't best friends anymore, him and Kyle.
The pressure of his hand dragged me down, down, down. That hand. For twenty-one years it had picked Kyle up, but that night it threw back shots. It turned the key in the ignition. It clasped the steering wheel and numbly maneuvered through the snow and ice. It reacted too late when the car slid. When Kyle needed him the most, that hand was too late.
Chase killed my brother.
He was the reason Kyle's body lay fifty yards away, shut tight in a wood box.
"Kels," he said. His lips wrapped around the word, familiar.
Really? Kels? We hadn't talked in months and my nickname dropped from his lips like it always had. I stared at his hand and tried to decide what to do. Slap him away? Pull him to me and hold him like I missed him? Because I had missed him, if that mattered, if that even made sense. He removed his hand before I could make up my mind and jammed it into the front pocket of his ironed suit pants.
"No one thought you'd come," I said.
He nudged the two white carnations lying on the ground next to me with his shiny black shoes. "You did."
The wind picked up and blew his hair across his forehead. It made him look ten years old again. He motioned to the spot next to me. Without thinking, I scooted over. And instantly regretted it.
We sat shoulder-to-shoulder, hip-to-hip, less air between us than the air separating my parents. Chase was always like that. He penetrated your personal space, not minding, and you weren't supposed to mind, either. I moved over.
He acted as if he didn't notice.
Down the hill, at the actual service, Mom had started shaking her head or nodding, depending on what the priest said. I couldn't take it; I looked away and rested my head against the bark of the tree.
"You're not dressed for a funeral," Chase said.
The knees of my jeans were faded and thin, close to fraying. Would he understand? Mom and Dad sure as hell hadn't. "I'm sick of wearing black." I was sick of feeling black. I was sick of having to hold on to death so tightly because it was all I had left.
He let a piece of my hair slip between his fingers and drop. "You let your hair grow out."
Uneasiness crawled over me. His gestures, movements, were the same as they'd always been. Like an old toy, or baby blanket, familiarity rang from him, calling to me. But his presence, his touch, shouldn't calm me, it should make me furious. Instead of looking at him, at the boy I grew up with, at the boy I would have trusted with anything, I stared at his traitorous hands. "Are you going to spend the rest of this" — I pointed toward my brother's grave — "crap performance making statements at me? If you are, you might as well head down there. I'm sure they'll be thrilled to see you."
I struck a nerve. I struck a damn major artery and I knew it. A part of me winced. I wanted to reach out and take the words back, but if I'd learned anything from the last five months, it's that things weren't reversible. There wasn't some sort of cosmic rewind button for life.
His jaw tightened and an angry red blush crept up his neck.
The other part of me was pleased he was pissed. Good. That was for calling me "Kels" as if nothing had happened. That was for squeezing my shoulder as if he were still allowed to comfort me, as if I were still allowed to like it. It didn't matter that I had.
He looked away and stared down the hill. Heads were bent in silent prayer now. A scowl crossed his face. "Your clothes ... that's why you aren't down there, isn't it? Which one told you you couldn't?"
A lump formed in my throat and I swallowed. "Dad." He'd been furious earlier. More mad than I'd ever seen him. Apparently wearing jeans and a T-shirt to Kyle's funeral was a "disgrace."
Chase muttered something and then leaned his head against the tree. "He always could be a prick."
I propped my chin on my knees and hugged my legs tighter. I didn't disagree because I couldn't. Like most parents, he had his moments. Those moments just happened more often now.
Chase looked at me, his eyes like two hot red lasers piercing my skin. He opened his mouth, then shut it again.
"Stop," I whispered. "Stop staring."
Instant relief washed over me when he listened. I'd wanted to scream at everyone who stared at me these past months. They were waiting for me to crumble, all of them, their stares reminding me of just how close to the edge I balanced myself. One tiny misstep away from becoming one fry short of a Happy Meal.
For the next few minutes, we didn't speak. Chase did his brooding thing, and that's probably exactly what I looked like, too. Brooding could be fun. No one expected you to smile or be happy. They expected you to stare off into space looking upset. I was getting good at brooding.
When the soldiers in their dress uniforms hiked their guns into the air and fired, I flinched. An honor, I reminded myself, but it didn't matter how many times I, or my parents, tried to convince me, this was wrong. Kyle had hated the army. Hated he'd signed up. Hated that he had to go overseas. He probably hated me right now because I let this stupid salute happen. It didn't matter that I'd voted against it. Dad and Mom voted for it. My vote meant nothing.
Chase moved closer and dropped his arm around my shoulder.
Tears pricked, threatening to sneak out. People also needed to stop comforting me. It made things worse. I dug my nails into my legs for something to focus on.
After the guns stopped firing, a soldier stepped toward Dad and handed him the folded, triangle-shaped American flag. His head dipped, and he ran his fingers over the material.
I blew out a hard breath. This was harder than I thought, being here. It wasn't just my own pain, it was seeing everyone else's, too. "I miss him," I whispered.
Chase gathered the hair that had fallen to the side of my face and moved the strands to the back. He looked away without responding. No "I miss him, too," or anything. He only dug the heels of his nice shoes into the dirt.
That's how I knew he'd heard me. Typical Chase Crowley. He never had words when things got tough. He spoke with his eyes, in gestures. I wasn't going to because I'd probably lose it, but if I did look at Chase right now, I'd see deep, deep brown eyes, and a face so empty it mirrored my own.
With no help from the other, my parents stood. Like puppets of a perfect, proper couple, they hugged their guests and shook hands with the priest before walking off toward the car. For the first time, Mom peeked at me. She'd known I was sitting here. Known and cared, just not enough to invite me down to the actual service. "Embarrassing," she'd said after Dad had already stormed out of the house.
In the midst of a cluster of headstones, she stopped mid-stride, her eyes popping out of her puffy red face.
She'd seen Chase.
I held my breath. It was like watching a raging fire burn toward a huge gas tank. "You should go," I said, not really wanting him to. I just didn't want Mom to go berserk. She wasn't what you would call stable.
His voice was firm. "No."
"Chase," I pleaded.
"Kels, I'm not leaving."
My father grabbed Mom's hand and tugged her toward the car. He seemed to be saying something to her and I wished I knew what it was. They hadn't been getting along. Well, unless they were both pissed at me, then they got along perfectly.
Chase waited until they were in the car and driving away before asking, "You didn't ride with them?"
I almost laughed. If he'd heard their reactions to my outfit, he wouldn't have had to ask. "Um ... no."
The cemetery workers started picking up, moving flower arrangements and folding chairs along with a rolled-up section of green fabric that was supposed to look like grass. I laid my head on my knees again and faced Chase. The movement made his hand fall from my shoulder. I'd forgotten it was there. No wonder Mom looked like she could maim him.
We stared at each other for a moment. I wanted to ask him why he'd come. I knew the answer; I just needed to hear him say it. I needed him to know I knew how much he cared for Kyle despite everything.
"I tried to see you," he said.
Past tense, singular. My linguistics professor would be so proud. "How many times?"
"Kels ..." Again, my nickname dropped from his lips as if nothing had changed.
"Everyone tried, Chase. Everyone." I closed my eyes and was barraged by images of the phone ringing, newspaper articles, crying parents, and Kyle. I quickly opened them. Living through the hell once was enough. I didn't need to live through it again.
The brown in his eyes deepened. "I'm not everyone."
My eyes blinked. I couldn't close them because of the memories, and I couldn't keep them open and see pain. Not Chase's pain, anyway.
Everything inside urged me to comfort him. Comfort him? He said he wasn't everyone, but that couldn't still be true. But even as I was trying to convince myself, I knew it was. Chase could never be just anyone.
"Do you want me to say I'm sorry?" I asked. Though that was laughable. Me? Say sorry to him?
He shook his head, one curt, swift movement before grabbing the two carnations next to me. "What are we doing with these?" "What else?"
His jaw ticked. "I thought we used weeds from your backyard."
If I closed my eyes, I'd see a four-year-old me and two little six-year-old boys. Chase reminded me of the past, and right then I wanted to be anywhere but the future.
I shrugged and Chase stood, holding his hand out to me. I grasped his fingers and he hoisted me up, but I couldn't leave our place under the tree. Not yet. Instead, I wiped at my jeans, removing any stubborn dirt. He waited, patiently, until I finally got enough courage to start down the little hill and toward the two gravediggers about to fill in Kyle's hole. He ran ahead and stopped them while I stayed behind. The diggers, dressed in brown-stained jeans and shirts, turned to me and nodded. If they thought it odd the deceased's sister wore jeans, a T-shirt, and sneakers to the funeral, they didn't say anything.
At the foot — or the head, not quite sure which — a little metal marker stuck up from the ground. Larkin, it read, 1992 — 2013. The marker was temporary. Soon the headstone would be delivered with a stupid saying etched across the marble I hadn't been asked an opinion on. They'd been in public face mode — formal and brief. There were no tears, no tissues. They picked the stone, they picked the design, they picked the saying, and done. Boom. Boom. Boom. We could've very well been picking out furniture for the formal dining room no one ever sat in.
It'd always been like that with them. When we were kids, my cat Snow White died. I was devastated my parents didn't intend to give a cat a funeral. So Chase and Kyle gave me one. We stood outside at dusk, right after dinner, right after we knew we could get away without them noticing, and said good-bye to Snow White. Chase could make an unbelievably real trumpet sound, and since the boys played army with G.I. Joes all the time, they knew the song that played at military funerals. The lone trumpet one. Taps, they'd called it. We'd done the ceremony for every pet since then. Kyle's cat, Tiger, Chase's dog, Dippy, and even Hammy, their classroom's pet hamster who accidentally went unfed for weeks in second grade. Stupid kid stuff, but Kyle wouldn't want us to say good-bye any other way.
Chase handed me the flowers and then wrapped his hands around his mouth. The first three notes sounded and he held the last one until his cheeks turned red and deflated. After a pause, he continued, and I swear I never heard anything more beautiful in my life than that fake trumpet sound coming from his lips. My knees wobbled, dropping me to the grass. I couldn't hold myself up any longer. I was sick of holding myself up.
He wavered. Don't stop, I silently pleaded, don't stop. He didn't. Tears gathered in my eyes and started to spill. So much for all those months of crying. I thought I didn't have anything left in me, but apparently this was another way nature screwed us. We have an endless supply of tears, but a limited supply of life.
On the last note, Chase slipped to his knees, too, his cheeks wet, face red. Breathless. Tears had gotten caught in his eyelashes, and I wondered if anyone else in the world had seen Chase Crowley cry. My brother and I had when Dippy died, but we were young. Chase didn't share this side of himself with just anybody.
I smiled, tentatively, and his face lit from within. Just one look and he teased a sliver of pain from my heart. That effect — the way one single look from him could warm me — made me anxious.
"What are we doing?" I asked.
We were crying, together, over this stupid thing we used to do when we were kids. It struck me then how weird this was, and soon my smile turned into a laugh, and then I was giggling uncontrollably and holding the flowers over my heart. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I was caught between being so sad I might break apart and being so happy that for the first time in months, I finally felt close to my brother. Kyle was all around us. He was in Chase. He was in me. He was in this ceremony.
I could breathe again. And it was all because of Chase. A lot of things were because of him, but this felt the most important. This reprieve from pain.
Chase shook his head. "We're showing Kyle how much we love him."
The ache grew in my chest. I loved someone I would never see again.
The laughs choked me and once more, I was sobbing. Chase held out his hand and I placed one of the white carnations in his palm. I should have pulled up the white flower weeds from the backyard. The flowers were my job, after all.
Chase was the trumpet player. Kyle was the digger. I supplied the weeds. My only job and I'd messed it up.
"For you, man." Chase threw his carnation onto the dark wood casket. "I'm sorry," he choked out and then rocked onto his heels and stood.
Excerpted from How We Lived by Erin Butler, Heather Howland, Kari Olson. Copyright © 2014 Erin Butler. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The raw emotion displayed between chracters and the whirlwind emotions show the reality of losing a loved one. This book was so good i had to pre-order her next book
It was. A very good.
Short but very good, this is a story about loss and how differently people deal with it, the author shows us how forgiving and loving can make losing someone you love a little less painful.
I am a sucker for a bad boy with secrets. And Chase is no exception. His and Kelsey's story of loss, love and survival is outstanding. Chase was always the boy next door to Kelsey, the boy she was close to and loved from afar, but one night changed that all; the night Chase killed her brother. Kelsey was close with her brother and his absence haunts her. Her parents have fallen into a dark place, hating each other and pretending as if their only child died. Chase keeps his distance from the family, doing his part for society and the death of his best friend, Kyle. But Kyle's funeral comes and he can't seem to stay away. Kyle's death may be on his hands, but Chase's love for his best friend and his sister, Kelsey, pull him to the last place he should be. Chase finds Kelsey sitting under a tree watching the funeral from a distance; her parents wouldn't let her go to the funeral in jeans in a t-shirt. Kelsey hadn't spoken with Chase in months, blaming him for Kyle's death, but she still loves him. Kelsey's problems at home, her need to reconnect with Kyle on some level, yet try to escape his memory sends her to continually seek out Chase. Life keeps pushing them together and pulling them apart at a heartbreaking pace that drags you in and drowns you in their emotions and entanglements. Chase's secrets threaten to tear them apart, but can Kelsey forgive him for keeping them from her once they come barreling at her head-on? Can Chase and Kelsey survive the ultimate test of love; trust? The story of Chase, Kelsey and Kyle is wonderfully written. I found myself falling in love with all the characters and the struggles they went through after Kyle's death and the secrets that came to the surface (and boy did I not see ANY of that coming). It is a book I have added to my "Must Read Again!" shelf.
How We Lived is a very quick read, but Erin Butler packs an emotional punch within its pages. The book is a story of loss and a story of love. There’s a lot of self-hatred and blame going on among Kelsey’s family and friends after her brother, Kyle, is killed. People are dealing with the loss in unhealthy ways, or perhaps not really dealing with it at all. Kelsey’s whole family is closed off from one another, going through the motions of life, but not really living. I loved watching Kelsey and Chase reconnect and seeing how they began to move forward. Their relationship was so complicated, and it was interesting to see how both internal and external forces influenced how they felt. This book is sweet and sad and realistic. So many New Adult stories present painful pasts as a reason to make a character angsty, but that wasn’t at all the case here. How We Lived is an honest portrayal of grief, love, and life.
Most of Entangled Publishings books are only around 200 pages. Why is that?
This book is about giving second chances and I rate it 10 stars if I could
I knew going in that this would be a very emotional read. I can't even imagine losing a loved one, let alone my own brother. I felt Erin did a beautiful job of bringing this story to life and conveying to readers that even in the darkest of times, there is still hope and the promise that it will get better. Pacing: Extremely fast-paced. This was a shorter novel, so it didn't take long to get immersed in Kelsey and Chase's world and watch them fight for what they both want and need in their lives. Storyline: Dealing with the loss of her brother and best friend, Kelsey is struggling to work through her grief. In the five months since, her life has spiraled downhill. Once a perfect student, Kelsey has failed her last semester at college and now has to take summer classes. She has witnessed her parents' marriage fall apart and now feels suffocated by the weight of grief that she has inside of her. The book begins with her and Chase, her brother's best friend and boy next door, finally reconnecting after five months of silence. Unfortunately, Chase is the boy who killed her brother. However, Kelsey can't deny that she misses him, as the three were inseparable as kids. He is there for her in ways that no one else can be and she finds herself gravitating towards him and the comfort that he offers. This obviously causes complications, as Kelsey's parents have forbidden her to see him and would freak if they only knew how much time she was spending with him. How We Lived touches on some very sensitive, but very real topics and I believe that makes this story such a good one. Every action has a consequence and sadly, accidents happen. Chase is a good person with a very big heart and he desperately wants to be the one Kelsey turns to and falls in love with, even after everything they've faced. I was surprised to hear Chase's account of that night and what really happened and was said before the accident. These revelations were heartbreaking to hear, and it really made sense why Chase is so passionate about his community outreach program he has started. Characters: Kelsey and Chase's characters both really broke my heart. It was hard to watch them work through their grief and struggle to find their way to one another. This is a huge change in both of their lives and they are doing the best they can to work through it in their own ways. Kelsey definitely frustrated me a bit, however. I realize she's going through a lot and her feelings are really all over the place, but I didn't like seeing her hurt Chase- even though it was unintentionally. I felt like she didn't know where she belonged and I hated that for her. She was trying to find comfort in Bear, another of their friends, and as sweet as he was, he just wasn't giving her what she truly needed. Only Chase could give that and she knew that she shouldn't be running to him. She has forgiven him, but doesn't stick up for him when he needs her to. That really hurts him more than anything because Chase already carries so much guilt over what happened. Even though she's forgiven him, until she shows him that she'll fight for him like he will for her, he knows it won't work between them. Chase is such a good guy. He is holding on to so much more guilt than just being the one drinking and driving that night. He won't ever be able to truly give himself to Kelsey until he confesses everything that happened that night. His mom, however, knows everything and has been a really great support system for him. She was always close to Kyle and Kelsey, and the accident caused her to lose both of them, as Kelsey's parents have forbidden contact between the two families. Kelsey's parents have always felt Chase was a trouble maker and a bad influence on their kids. However, Chase has decided if Kelsey wants to be with him and see him, no one will get in the way of doing so. Kelsey's parents aren't bad people, but they are grieving. Grief affects people in different ways and they are so angry over what happened that they don't see the things Chase is doing now or how much he is helping their daughter heal. Final Thoughts: How We Lived is a beautiful story about loss, grief, forgiveness, love, and hope. We see two characters who were once inseparable find their way back to one another and fall in love despite what their family and friends think. It is through that love that they are able to find acceptance and peace and move forward in the future.
Erin Butler sucked me right in with this story. Chase and Kelsey have known each other all of their lives and, after a terrible mistake, Kelsey's brother died. Chase is now blamed and Kelsey has to try to reconcile her feelings for him knowing that her family and whole town are going to be angry with her if she has a relationship with him. Chase tries to keep hope that Kelsey will forgive him and find a way to have a relationship with him. He is willing to even just be her friend, however, his dream is for them to be together. I will not give any spoilers so that is all I am going to say. It was well written and a fast read.
"Received and ARC for an honest review" This book got straight through me. It made me teary and squeezed my heart but I wouldn't want it any other way. Kelsey is in a place in her life that thankfully not everyone gets to be. Unfortunately, that's not my case. I lost a sister to an accident as well, so this story really got in my heart. I love how Erin managed it all. The reality and how well she understands and makes you feel what the characters are going through is no easy task, but she nailed it. The different process with Kyle's death that each character affronts is what truly goes on. How Kelsey's parents dwell with loosing a child, forgetting a hit about what the surviving one is feeling. How their marriage is on the thread because of it. How Kelsey tries her best to overcome her loss by herself and finds that Chase, Kyle's best friend, is going through the same, trying also to overcome his guilt and find a path to redeem himself. I absolutely give this book a go, I read it in one sit and if you know someone going though any related situation, I hope you give them a hand, because even though you never really overcome completely from a tragic loss, having someone there with you is just the best way to keep going.
.This is story of grief, healing and connection between Kelsey a 19 year old college student and Chase, her dead brother's best friend. Chase is persona non-grata because he was driving the vehicle that resulted in the death of Kyle, Kelsey's brother. Her life is falling apart, she failing school, her parents are fighting and her boyfriend isn't interested in her physically. She and Chase reconnect at Kylie's funeral and start to heal each other. This novel was a very strong story that balanced the difficult plot of grief and family drama with friendship, and romantic attraction. It was well developed and realistic. We'll worth the time. I was given an free copy for an honest review.
Chase Crowley was the ultimate broken boy! Everybody needs a guy like this. Family drama is something nobody is immune from. Even fewer to the degree of falling in love with your brothers killer but How We Lived was a beautiful story about overcoming grief and learning to forgive. Kelsey and Chase have been best friends for years. Before anything bad happened to them they along with Kelsey's brother Kyle were inseparable. Playing the childhood friends to lovers angle really worked for me even though Chase made a reckless mistake that cost them both someone they loved dearly. This was another quick read that wasn't very long but ultimately stole my attention away pretty fast. It wasn't hard to connect emotionally with both characters and the grief they both feel but for different reasons. Kelsey lost a brother and confidant but the absence of him isn't the only thing that is causing so much pain. It's watching her parents fall apart over their suffering while basically ignoring her. She's a girl floundering to find purpose in the sadness and trying to figure out what she should do with her life. Six months after Kyle's death she's failing at state college and the relationship she has with her brothers friend Bear isn't helping anymore. The comfort she once found in him is dying and the only person she feels who really gets her is Chase. There is so much that she learns not only about herself but about life and love. Kelsey has to grow up tremendously in such a short time but the growth in her character was just one thing I enjoyed about this book. Standing up for not only herself but for Chase as well took serious courage and because of that I felt pride in her development. Chase Crowley was the best thing about this book. There is just something special about a broken guy as I've said so many times before. Yes he made a huge mistake and yes he's suffering right along with everyone else but it was his indomitable spirit to be better than what people think of him that really made me love him. Since the accident that killed his best friend everyone has turned against him. His friends, the town's folk and Kelsey's parents who have never cared much for him have gone to extreme lengths to make sure he knows they don't like him. Chase was the ultimate underdog who didn't have to try hard to win my affection. He was such a sweet guy and it showed in his actions. Knowing that he's been in love with Kelsey for a long time made their connection that much more beautiful to me. Seeing the significant changes he's made to his life and how it ultimately affected Kelsey made me want to bawl my eyes out. There's more to his story than just getting behind the wheel against his better judgement and learning the truth scared me a little because I didn't want it to hinder the relationship he shared with Kelsey. How We Lived was filled with so many heart warming moments between Kelsey and Chase. Their childhood bond grew into something special and made me swoon with every new experience they encountered. Getting glimpses of how Chase changed from the skirt chasing sex pot to a guy who wanted to deserve Kelsey was very special. It was a bumpy road for both characters but they always say there is a pot of gold in every rainbow and How We Lived definitely fits that description. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for this author in the future because she blew me away with this story which was my first experience with her writing. She made her characters come alive and the issues they faced were real and honest, something you could understand whole wholeheartedly. Sometimes you need a good story that gets you in the feels and shakes off the dust of some of the other tropes that can seem redundant so I would implore you to give this book a try and fall in love with Kelsey and Chase just like I did.
Better have some tissues handy. I consider myself a fairly tough guy, butthis book had me tearing up with the first chapter! A wonderful tale of losss, redemption, recovery, and love. I'm not ashamed to admit thatthis one got mechoked up. Great job on this book!
5 "Better Get Some Kleenex" Stars Wow. This book was really good. I love when I go into a story without big expectations, and then you are blown away. While this was a quick read for me it was rich with substance and filled with things I love like friends who find love and healing while they do it. Kelsey is home from college because even though her brother died five months ago, they are just now able to do the service. What makes it worse is that her parents nor her have done well these past five months and the one person she could get the most comfort from is not welcomed by her family. Chase, two years older, was in essence the third amigo with Kelsey and her brother Kyle. But how can Kelsey let Chase make it better when he was the one responsible for her brother's death in the first place. Deep right. Sometimes no matter what others may think, the heart knows what is best. For Kelsey it is Chase, and for Chase, he knew it was Kelsey before she did. They have so many obstacles to overcome. Everyone knows their story and initially aside from Vito, the really sweet restaurant owner, they are not supportive of Chase and Kelsey. The writer does such a great job drawing you into this very sweet but sad story. Such young people dealing with horrific grief, and guilt. Nothing is overly drawn out or dramatic in this story. It is just real and it is enough. I highly recommend this book and look forward to more from Butler. Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
An emotional, sweet, and wonderful New Adult romance, How We Lived was a fantastic read. I really liked this lovely book. I thought it was great. Kelsey was a lovely heroine. Throughout the book, she struggled to move on from her brother's death. As the book went on, she became stronger and more determined to take her life into her own hands. It was a little frustrating how she would run away from facing her emotions, though. But, overall, I liked her. Chase was wonderful. He was so sweet. From the beginning, it was easy to sympathize for him. He was driving drunk the night that Kyle died and the crash he got into led to Kyle's death. Because of that, basically everyone turned against him, except his mother. But, it was clear that he was anything but a bad person. He was torn up with guilt and grieved in a way that really proved how good of a person he was. His character had a lot of depth and I really adored him. My one issue isn't with his character, but with how people acted towards him. I didn't understand why Kelsey's parents didn't approve of him, even before the crash. It was vaguely alluded that it was because he was from a lower class, but seriously? Even if that was the reason, it was not portrayed in how the characters lived and acted. And, it apparently extended to Kyle, which makes even less sense to me. I just didn't get it. The romance was lovely. Kelsey and Chase was so sweet together. I loved how they helped each other heal and how, since they had liked each other for a while and had an already established friendship, their feelings were deep and really came across. There was a bit of heat in there, but not too much. I thought they were great together. The plot was well paced and I was hooked the entire way through. There were several secrets that really took me by surprise. I really enjoyed the story and the ending was lovely. How We Lived was a wonderful New Adult romance. I really liked this book. It was deep, emotional, romantic, and a truly lovely read. Romance lovers, this is a book you won't want to miss. *I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review