Cassie Grayson doesn’t know how to be a mom. She’s twenty-two and hardly in a position to care for a kid. But when her twelve-year-old nephew is dumped in her lap, she does the only thing she can: she takes him in.
Neither of them have it easy as they try to navigate this unknown path. Cassie must deal with her feelings toward her estranged sister and her own rocky childhood growing up in the foster care system. Felix is still reeling from being uprooted from the only life he’s ever known, and he doesn’t connect with his weird, emotionless aunt. The only person who seems to breach the gap between them is Troy Baker, the counselor assigned to Felix.
To Troy, Felix and Cassie should be just another case, but they’re not. Something about the hopeless duo captures his heart, and in spite of his hesitation he finds himself falling for both of them. Felix’s quiet strength is endearing, but it’s Cassie’s determination to not let her nephew down that chips away at his own walls, daring him to more than just help her…but maybe fall in love as well.
Can three strangers from completely different worlds create an unlikely family? Or are the hidden holes in their hearts too big to heal?
4.5 stars — I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
Note: I’m going to put a trigger warning for this book. No deetz, but just know that there is difficult subject matter.
So I was actually supposed to be finishing a beta read, but I decided to sneak this book in on the side, and it turns out this book did not want to BE just a side read. Oh no, it wanted to suck me in. This book gives Geronimo a run for its money as my favourite of the latter Songbird novels. It was such a difficult read at times, with so much heartbreak and our heroine struggling with the evils of her childhood. But with all of that comes a lot of love and hope and inspiration. Ms. Pearl balanced it really well for me.
I wasn’t sure how I would feel about having Felix’s POV in the story…not because he’s a 12 year old boy, but because so many times it feels like authors aren’t authentic and realistic with children, you know? Like they don’t really feel their age. But Felix was PERFECT. His reactions and feelings, and how he coped at school, particularly at the new school with the new girls, really felt…well, authentic. He made all the choices I expected him to make. And quite frankly, for a girl that’s not really good with kids, he made me love him. I felt all of his heartbreak, and uncertainty, and fear, and hope, and love! I can honestly say that this book would not have been half as good without his POV added. (and can I just say that I kind of hope that Felix and Summer get a bonus novella sometime in the future when we’re all missing the Songbird novels and we beg Ms. Pearl for just a little bit more? I can dream.)
So that brings us back to our normal hero and heroine, Troy and Cassie. I’ll talk about Cassie first, b/c I love book boys, and I want to save my book boy for the end. Cassie broke my freaking heart. I felt like she was portrayed in a very sensitive and realistic way (even though I don’t honestly know how anyone copes with abuse, and people cope in many different ways, but I really felt like Cassie’s way of coping was realistic). It was so odd to want to be mad at her sister Crystal right along with Cassie, but to also understand how those events in the past played out the way they did. They were both so young.
Cassie goes through a HUGE character growth throughout this story…and I thought the pace of her changes was realistic and believable. Like she had put a big coating of steel over herself, but Felix and Troy were seeping in through the seams and bringing her back to life a little at a time. There were some scenes that just made my soul soar even while it was breaking. When they find Felix and she sings to him… When she embraces music to try to make a connection with him. It was so hard to watch them struggle to fit together, but then it made those wins all the more sweet. And it was the same with her relationship with Troy. I knew that one was going to be so much harder, but I felt like the story moved in a way it was supposed to, and that how it played out felt right for them.
Troy was amazeballs. I just love me a sweet, caring, sensitive man. And sexy to boot!! Seeing him fall in love and desperately want to become part of this little family was both beautiful and heartbreaking. He was just the perfect fit for Cassie, and I loved seeing him get his love story. I realize I don’t know what to say about him, other than to say that he gives Harry (from Geronimo) a run for his money in the book boy department. He definitely made me swoon on multiple occasions.
The music in this one was a mixed bag for me…I discovered that I’m not an 80’s hairband lover! I tried listening to some of the songs and I was just like “Felix, Troy, no…” I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love me some Bon Jovi. But apparently that love does not translate to Europe’s Superstitious or Def Leppard’s Animal. 😛 But then I discovered that I actually knew the title song, Hole Hearted, and LOVE it, and had never known the name of the song or that that was what they were saying!! Bwahahaha… So anyways, while I didn’t always enjoy all the songs, I really did enjoy how the music played a part in this book as it has with every Songbird novel.
And bonus points for this book? So many cameos!! I knew we’d see Jimmy, Nessa and Chaos (and that was awesome), but I totally forgot that Cole and Troy were friends!! I really need to go back and reread this series from the beginning and catch up on the books I missed…
So yeah, I’m totally babbling now, but just know I really loved this book and feel like it’s one of the stars in this series.