I liked this book. It was nice to revisit these two key characters, Clara and Gio, and see what would happen between them when given the chance. The book takes place eight years after Tough Love and we get reintroduced to Clara, who’s settled comfortably into a safe, college life. She’s an artist rendering the vision of her lost love in everything she does. I do wish Clara was a bit stronger, given all that she’s been through. Perhaps, it was Honor’s (Clara’s older sister and my favourite hero of the Stripped series, as she is perfection) encompassing, protective love that shielded her from that part of herself. I can only guess. For a time she has a typical douchey jock boyfriend that she knows quite resoundingly is no good for her. Then she gets whisked away by the ghost of true love past. But he isn’t like the boy she remembered, the one that she loved desperately, the one she thought she lost. He’s a hardened soul. The kind that reknits itself back together after it’s broken into pieces. I would’ve like to have learned more about what he endured over the last eight years, so I could have better understood his choices and his rise to prominence. Maybe even see some of Clara’s memories through his eyes as he watched over. Even as this changed man, he still had a small sliver of the boy he was, and that first love sustained him as he charted through his maze -- i.e. chosen career path. That sliver was very powerful. The fact that he was her guardian angel and love her the entire time she was haunted by him, was incredibly romantic. The fact that he preserved his heart and his body was sweetness beyond words. Not sure if this was the end of the series, but if it was it has been wonderful to see how our girls turned out and got the lives they deserved.
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It is the story we have all been waiting for, the one that started it all…. Clara and Giovanni. Clara is now in college doing what college girls do – study and party. She likes to put more of her attention towards her passion for art. While showing one of her pieces to a group of people in The Grand, she gets a call from her friend saying she saw the man from Clara’s drawings. But this can’t be true. Clara knows he has died and it just might be her friend seeing someone else by mistake. Yet this doesn’t stop Clara from running home to examine her apartment, but she finds nothing out of the ordinary there. She takes this as a false alarm and drinks the water she left on her nightstand from the night before. What she doesn’t realize is that she didn’t refill that cup up that morning, and now she is drifting off into a deep sleep. She wakes up in a car with a man in front of her, but not just any man the boy she was forced to leave behind to gain her freedom. Joy and fear creep into her because he is alive and something is off. He isn’t the same person she loved all those years ago, he seems more dark, emotionless, and scary. Now he tells her, that she is his whether she wants it or not. Can she love the man he is now or will she be forced to leave behind the mafia life she once again, but this time alone and running from the who helped her last time? I LOVED this book. As soon as it popped up in my kindle, I started to read it and didn’t stop until 6 am when I finished it. I have been rooting for these two since the beginning of the series and now we get to finally see them get their ending together. I felt so bad for Gio. He had to go through so much torture so that Clara and Honor can gain their freedom. Clara was his light yelling at him to live and he survived it all. The life he lives now was something he worked for with blood. Clara doesn’t know this until later, but Gio hasn’t changed that much. He is sacrificing himself for others’ protection even if that means blood on his hands. Clara has grown up but doesn’t feel like she is living life. Then once again she is trapped in the same house that holds most of her childhood nightmares, but this time under the boy she loved. She is confused with what her heart wants and what her mind is telling her to do. Yet Gio is all she really wants.