Synopsis via Goodreads: Josephine Clark is trapped. A harrowing past haunts her every time she looks in the mirror, and she can’t escape the violence of her everyday life. More and more, her thoughts turn to Evan Salinger, the boy she knew in high school. The boy they called a mental case. A loner. A freak. The boy who seemed to know things no one could know. For a few short weeks, Jo had found perfect solace in Evan’s company, sneaking every night to meet him at the local pool. In the cool of the water and the warmth of Evan’s arms around her, Jo had tasted something close to happiness.
Cruel circumstances tore them apart, and four years later, the sweet memory of their time together is dissolving under the punishing reality of Jo’s life now. Evan seems like a fading dream…until he reappears at the moment she needs him most. Guided by Evan’s strange intuition, they flee her small Louisiana town, and Jo begins to suspect there is something more to his sudden return than he admits.
Over twelve days across America’s heartland, deep secrets come to light, buried pasts are unearthed, and the line between dreams and reality is blurred as Evan and Jo fight to hold on to their soul-deep love, and discover that there is more than one way to save a life.
How to Save a Life is a complete second-chance STANDALONE novel with shades of the paranormal. It carries the characters from high school through to their early twenties. It is not YA; mature subject matter, and sexual situations. TRIGGER WARNING: domestic violence (on the page) and mention of sexual abuse (off the page) For readers 18 years and up.
The Dreamcatcher novels are a series of interconnected STANDALONES, each with shades of the paranormal. It is NOT necessary to read them in order, though some characters appear in other novels.
I was in desperate need of an emotional romance so I scrolled through my TBR on Goodreads trying to figure out what to read and decided on Emma Scott’s Dreamcatcher duet because her writing always gets me in my feelings and I knew she wouldn’t let me down…and I was right!
Josephine Clark has spent most of her young adult life drifting from city to city, running from her past but when she meets Evan Salinger, time stops and for the first time in her life she’s found someone she truly feels safe with. Labeled as the town “freak” Evan only hopes for the day he can leave town and finally start living his life without whispers and stares. He’s only ever felt alone but that all changes the moment Josephine walks into his life. They slowly start falling for one another and Jo learns about Evan’s gift—a gift that brings them closer together. But when unfortunate events tear these two apart will Evan’s gift be able to bring them back together again after years of being apart?
If you’ve read Emma Scott’s book before then you know she absolutely slays it when it comes to emotional romances and the Dreamcatcher duet was no different. I just want to note that this book deals with some very triggering topics: sexual abuse, physical abuse and domestic abuse and some scenes are quite graphic so fair warning. I was sucked into this book right from the first page and my heart completely broke for these two characters with such tragic pasts who only hoped that one day they would find the happiness and peace their souls have been longing for. Emma’s writing is poetic as always and I seriously couldn’t get enough of her words. While this book is mainly a contemporary, there is a bit of a paranormal aspect thrown into the mix as Evan has a gift and he uses that gift to help people—one of those people being Jo. Jo is a girl who has suffered so much loss and has so much pain but she just continues to fight for a better life. Evan’s whole backstory just made me sob because he literally never knew what it was like to be loved by someone until he met Jo and then he was taken away from her and the whole situation just made me want to fight all the secondary characters for being judgmental assholes! I’m not gonna say much else about this book other than the fact that the second half had me on edge because I thought someone was going to die and honestly I wouldn’t have put it passed Emma since she’s pulled that twist before. How to Save a Life was an emotional roller coaster of a read so be sure to grab a box of Kleenex before picking this one up!
Synopsis via Goodreads: Nikolai Alexei Young was born with a special gift…one he’d do anything to lose. The heart and soul of every person he comes into contact with is an open book to his heightened senses. Colorful emotions, whispers of thoughts, the sour tastes of old memories…He feels them all. The sci-fi books would call him an empath. For Nikolai, his ability has made him an exile. He roams the U.S. alone, avoiding the glut of life in big cities, and using his innate talents to win money in underground poker games. Just enough to keep going, one town to the next. He has no hope that his life can be anything else, until he meets her…
At nineteen, Fiona Starling was trapped in an ugly, desperate situation until she freed herself the only way she knew how. Now three years later, living outside Savannah, Georgia, she is rebuilding her life on her own terms; seizing every moment and saving every penny so that she might fulfill her dream of moving to the raw wilderness of Costa Rica. But behind her carefree smile beats the heart of a lonely young woman haunted by her past, until a chance encounter with a tattooed stranger changes everything…
Fiona takes Nikolai under her roof for three sultry nights, waiting out the rain of a summer storm. She grows more and more fascinated by this brooding stranger with whom she shares an intense physical connection—a connection so strong, she wonders if there is something between them beyond lust and passion. Nikolai is shocked to discover that Fiona calms the raging turmoil in his heart. She alone silences the din of other people’s lives, and envelops him in the sweet beauty of her inner self. Every moment he’s with her—every touch of her skin—brings him closer to the peace that’s been eluding him his entire life.
But Fiona harbors secrets that she is too terrified to reveal. After Nikolai confesses his unique ability, she is caught between wanting to believe him and fearing he’ll eventually unearth her own dark past. When the unthinkable happens, Fiona’s plans come crashing down, and Nikolai discovers his hated ability might be the only thing that can save the woman he loves.
Sugar & Gold is a STANDALONE new adult romance with shades of the paranormal. Intended for readers 18 and up.
Sugar & Gold is the second book in Emma Scott’s Dreamcatcher duet and though it can be read as a standalone, you will be minorly spoiled for how things ended for our characters in the first book since they do make a few appearances in this book so go read How to Save a Life first and then come back to this one. Now let’s get this review started!
Nikolai Alexei Young spends his time jumping from one city to the next, never staying too long before things become too overwhelming. But when he meets Fiona Starling at a club one night, he can’t seem to get her out of this thoughts and for the first time in his life, he finally feels like he’s ready to stay in one place for just a while longer. Fiona Starling has spent the last few years running from the past and things are finally starting to fall into place for her. She decides to let go for one night and have a little fun when her eyes catches Nikolai’s at the club. It was not meant to be anything more than a one night stand but there’s something about Nikolai that makes her want to stop running and she slowly finds herself falling for him. But Nikolai has a secret—a secret that could put the brakes on this relationship before it even starts.
Going into this book, I hoped that Emma would spare my poor heart because it was still recovering from How to Save a Life and I sure as hell wasn’t ready to read a second heartbreaking book in a row. Luckily, Sugar & Gold was a bit lighter and had more happier moments than sad ones. I really liked how Emma managed to connect this book to the first one and include characters from the first book into this story. I lowkey cried when I saw Evan and Jo again! Just like with the previous book, this book does have a paranormal aspect to it as Nikolai has a special gift. But he’s not so accepting of his gift which is why he’s constantly on the go because it’s the only way he knows how to control it. Throughout this book, Nikolai has to learn to accept his gift and realize that it’s not a curse but rather a blessing. Fiona is a lot like Nikolai in some ways because she still has scars from when she was in a toxic marriage and she’s trying to learn to love herself again, though it’s not without it’s difficulties. Nikolai and Fiona help each other see the best parts of themselves and it’s what helps their relationship grow. The romance is a bit on the insta-lust side but considering Nikolai’s gift, I can see why things moved so fast for these two in terms of their feelings for one another. The last 30% of this book did stress me out because once again Emma turned up the suspense and I was left guessing at what would happen next but luckily things worked out better than I had expected. Sugar & Gold was a great ending to yet another beautiful duet by Emma Scott and I highly recommend giving these books a read if you’re in the mood to shed a few tears!