Author: Roan Parrish
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 260 Pages
Category: Contemporary, New Adult
At a Glance: So, there you have it. Another Roan Parrish winner, and story that I highly recommend.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Leo Ware may be young, but he knows what he wants. And what he wants is Will Highland. Snarky, sophisticated, fiercely opinionated Will Highland, who burst into Leo’s unremarkable life like a supernova… and then was gone just as quickly.
For the past miserable year, Leo hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the powerful connection he and Will shared. So, when Leo moves to New York for college, he sweeps back into Will’s life, hopeful that they can pick up where they left off. What begins as a unique friendship soon burns with chemistry they can’t deny… though Will certainly tries.
But Leo longs for more than friendship and hot sex. A romantic to his core, Leo wants passion, love, commitment—everything Will isn’t interested in giving. Will thinks romance is a cheesy fairy tale and love is overrated. He likes his space and he’s happy with things just the way they are, thank you very much. Or is he? Because as he and Leo get more and more tangled up in each other’s lives, Will begins to act like maybe love is something he could feel after all.
Review: I was a little late to the scene with this series…I listened to the audio for In the Middle of Somewhere, the first book in the series, a year after it was published, and basically fell in love with it—and also, peripherally, with the idea of a romance between secondary characters Will Highland and Leo Ware, though it was just the inkling of a possibility in my mind at the time. Fast forward to a couple of weeks after I listened to that audio, and I saw that Roan Parrish was working on the third book, and that it was Will and Leo’s story! I pretty much flailed all over that post, and of course, couldn’t wait to get my hands on Where We Left Off. While this book is not going to be the kind of romance that a lot of readers are maybe expecting or hoping for, I actually really loved it.
First of all, the characters are amazing and lend so much to the story. All of the characters—yes, even Will—are wonderful. From Leo and Will, and decent sized cameos from Daniel and Rex, right on down to the supporting cast, the characters have great depth. It’s so fantastic to read a book where even the back-up players are so richly developed. Leo’s group of friends were instrumental in all of the growth he experienced during his first year at NYU. College can be scary, especially when you’re from a small town like Holiday, Michigan, but Leo formed this amazing support system, and I loved how important they all became to each other.
Leo is just such a love, you guys; I adored him and his huge romantic heart. He has been hung up on Will since he first met him back home in Holiday, and definitely harbors a romanticized ideation of them being together now that they are both in New York. Unfortunately, with Will, things are never quite that simple. Leo has a rough road ahead of him with respect to getting what he wants, and truly with figuring out if he really knows what that looks like. I mentioned Leo’s growth above…He undergoes such a transformation in this book. He arrives at NYU a scared, lonely kid, really; but, at the end of his first year, he’s an intelligent, confident, sexy young man. He knows what he wants and is no longer afraid to assert himself and go after it.
Then there is Will. Who is NOT a love. Ha! Man is he ever difficult to warm up to. BUT, even though he was sooo standoffish, and truly just cold at times, I do think that Parrish did a fabulous job of still making him somehow accessible and very real. Will is such a complex character. Standoffish and cold might be too nice of terms for some. I imagine that there will be a lot of people who just flat out don’t like him. I don’t fall into that camp, though. I actually rooted for him throughout the story. Rooted for him to be with Leo, even though he maybe didn’t deserve him. I was touched by Will’s backstory and harsh childhood, and by the difficulties he had with his looks. Maybe I’m just a sucker, or a romantic at heart like Leo, but I believed in Will and knew that his feelings for Leo ran deep. And, I adored the Will that Leo saw…
“Someday I would find a way to tell him that his beauty wasn’t separate from him for me. That it was animated by the real him he let me see—made complicated and imperfect and specific because of his Will-ness.”
The second main draw to this book for me was, plainly stated, the writing. The writing is so, so smart, just wonderfully intelligent and descriptive. I loved all of the New York stuff. Having not been to the city, I was enthralled with all of the scenery and landmark associations. There is just something about stories set in New York City, isn’t there? Fabulous. There were also some absolutely gorgeous tie-ins to Leo’s major, which was physics, that were expertly woven in by Parrish. Things like this:
“We kept each other upright, two masses exerting equal force on one another. He held me so close, squeezed me so tight, held on for so long, that when we separated it felt like being torn apart.
I was so aware of Will’s body in space, could feel his warmth even when he wasn’t touching me, like a slight electrical charge in the places between us. I hadn’t exactly felt untethered in the time since I’d seen him, but now I slid back into his orbit as easily as breathing.”
I truly was blown away by some of these passages.
As far as the romance goes…Is theirs the most romantic relationship in the world? No. Definitely not. But, it felt realistic, and when I’m thinking through it now, it felt like a very honest, refreshing, and brave story to tell. Some people just aren’t hearts and flowers people…and I think it was so interesting to examine if that kind of person, someone like Will, could make a go of it with someone who is a romantic. Can they make it? I guess only time and experience will tell.
Even though this might not be seen as a conventional romance by some, with some serious angst and questions about monogamy being thrown in the mix, I have to say I still swooned pretty freakin’ hard at the end. I’m still swooning, to be honest. The chemistry, you guys… Sexiness for dayyyyys. These guys have so much heat and so much passion for each other, I can’t help but think they’re gonna make it. 😉
So, there you have it. Another Roan Parrish winner, and story that I highly recommend. This is a writer to keep your eye on for sure. I know she has more smart, sexy stories in the works, so be on the lookout!
You can buy Where We Left Off here: