Dalton, I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk on the feeling, I couldn't see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would ravage me. Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again. I loved you. I raged for you. I wept for you. And now, I'm letting you go.
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This heartbreaking yet beautiful love story starts off with a strong Prologue where a desolate 18 year old Dalton explains the hopeless world he lives in working as a lackey for a Crime Boss. There's no way out for him - his only solace is Spencer - the mere thought of her gives him warmth and relief in his otherwise cold loveless life. A childhood life filled with abuse, a life that never knew of kindness or caring and a life filled with lies, violence, greed and heartache because he knows that that's all there is for him. But his friendship with Spencer is everything to him - she came into his life when he was put in emergency Foster Care with her Counselor Mom and their bond solidified as they silently watched the setting sun go down from the steps of her house. He knows there's no hope for them, they're from different worlds, she's kind, good, forgiving, trusting, loyal, supportive, funny, beautiful.... and just a friend - but still he dreams..... and lies to protect her.
Spencer met Dalton when she was just 12 and he was a broken, dejected and annoyed 14 year old boy and that meeting forged an unbreakable bond between two soul-mates, two halves that made up one soul whose lives would go on to discover love, loss, heartbreak, pain, tragedy, forgiveness, redemption.... and love. But the story starts when Spencer is a happy 17 year old virgin however underneath she longs for more from her crush - the handsome and sexy 19 year old smiling Dalton who's again waiting on the steps where they first met. Completely unaware what bittersweet emotions lay in wait - emotions where she would touch the stars with happiness and love, hopeless emotions that would nearly break their bonds and tarnish that love and tender beautiful emotions that would slowly pieced back together her broken heart.
The Prologue gripped me.. but then the story starts with teens talking about Prom dates and my heart sank, my finger lingered over the stop button.... and yet the characters drew me in and then their devoted unconditional love for each other kept me riveted. It does span over five more years when Spencer and Dalton's love will be tested, falter and flicker.... but it'll never truly go out. This NA emotional roller coaster romance, with it's loving, loyal and caring couple - especially the Hero (who is sooo different from my usual Alpha bad boys) gripped me and, at times, I was sorely tempted to check for the HEA ending and then there were times where I just wanted to bask in its sweetness. However it wasn't all plain sailing because there was wrongs to right, murders to revenge, a Crime Boss to destroy, a reunion to be had, the truth to be revealed, forgiveness to be given.... and even more tears to be spilled before Spencer and Dalton got their HEA. Dual POV's (and occasionally the Crime Boss' thoughts and actions), some good secondary characters and the narrators did a great job and were perfect for this listen.
Worth a credit? As I said, it's really NA, but it's also heartwarming and heartbreaking too as true love battles Fate for their destinies. This was enjoyable and addictive with twists, secrets, danger, suspense and two sex scenes.... and YES it's worth a credit. BEWARE - re-lived memories of child abuse and one that was presently happening which was only brief (mental and physical but not sexual) which some listeners may want to avoid.