Ella Ingraham almost falls for Josh Devereaux's easy charm and effortless smile. God knows, she wants to. He's made her feel more than anyone has in a long time, both in and out of bed.
But one phone call changes everything. Especially when the truth about Josh is on the other end of that call.
Now Ella isn’t sure which is worse – Josh lying to her about his past, or the fact she can’t stop thinking about him anyway. Not that he’s making it easy.
Josh wants to make things right and he has a plan for stopping her ex's slander campaigns against her before her next big book release. Even Ella has to admit it's a better plan than she -- or her lawyer -- have come up with. For the plan to work, though, Ella has to not only rely on Josh but trust him. Implicitly.
Ella knows she’d be a fool to trust him a second time. So why is her heart trying to convince her otherwise?
I was super excited to get my hands on an early copy of book 2 in Brenda St. John Brown’s The Truth Series. There was after all a bit of a cliffhanger in book 1 that I was dying for some resolution to.
You’ll be happy to know that the story jumps in right where we were left hanging with our mouths open. If you remember Ella happened to see Josh’s phone ringing with a name she never in a million years would have expected on the screen.
Finding out that Josh has a tie to her ex Eric, has her questioning all her decisions as of late, and knowing that the person she was just starting to let in and starting to trust has betrayed that by not being honest with her has crushed her.
But Josh has other plans. He’s going to take Eric up on his offer of a second attempt to ruin Ella, but instead of spreading the slander he wants Ella’s help to make Eric pay for the things he’s done to her. In order for this to work, she has to decide whether she trusts Josh and believes his intent to help or let Eric get away with ruining her reputation in the public eye one more time.
I hated that cliffy at the end of book 1 you guys… I was so worried about where this betrayal would leave Ella and Josh. But I should have had more faith in Brenda’s story-telling for sure. It was actually a perfect place to wrap up the first part of their story.
Josh really did betray Ella’s trust… they never should have taken their relationship where it went without him coming clean to her about his past. However, I love the way it all played out in this second half of the story. I was so happy when I found out Josh’s true plan, and it was wonderful to see Ella learn to not only trust in Josh and what he was doing, but to also trust in her own instincts and her own decisions. I’m going to be honest here, the plan that is in place is incredibly dramatic… there are a lot of moving pieces and ultimately they would have been looking to stoop to Eric’s level just to cause the same kind of harm he did to Ella, and while I’m always for a little bit of vengeance and revenge, this felt so wrong. Interspersed through the current timeline chapters, we get snippets of the days/weeks/months following Ella’s loss of their baby, and how it affected her… but within those chapters you also get to see Eric trying to connect with her and ultimately you see that while he maybe wasn’t hurt in the same way as she was, he was still struggling with what had happened and his lashing out at her was probably the only way he knew to show her how much it hurt him.
Honestly, both Ella and Eric were absolutely flawed characters who were in a relationship that wasn’t healthy… the things that they did to each other were terrible, and yet they stuck it out. This is going to sound incredibly weird right now, but I couldn’t help but think that the way things are resolved at the end can be summed up in a Gwen Stefani Lyric… “I remembered for the first time, since I hated you that I used to love you.”
I realize that most of my review here reflects more on the relationship that used to be instead of the one we should be cheering for… i.e. Ella and Josh, but ultimately this book is a bit of both. The possibility of rebuilding the instant connection she had with Josh and also being able to let go of the past and not let the mistakes of her past with Eric infringe on that.
Honestly, I was a bit surprised at the end of this story, and I think some of you will be too. It’s hard to grasp considering you spent 90% of the story waiting for this big thing to happen… but ultimately I was happy that things go down the way they do. I think it would have been a bit too over the top for everything to play out like they had planned and ultimately it would have made Ella and Josh no better than Eric and what he did to her in the past.
I love Brenda’s characters, and writing and I really enjoyed the evolution of the relationships in this story. I think that she does an amazing job at making characters relatable and getting you to understand what they’re feeling and how they’re reacting and the ending was definitely a satisfying conclusion in the lives of Ella and Josh.
If you haven’t yet picked up anything by Brenda St. John Brown, I’m going to strongly suggest you do. Start with Swimming to Tokyo… it was absolutely one of my favorite reads last year, and then dive into this duology. I think you’ll be incredibly happy with the stories she tells!
Thank you to the author for providing a copy for review in exchange for my honest thoughts.