Book Review: Need Me by Shelley K. Wall

needmeAspiring journalist Caroline Sanders doesn’t have time for frat parties and college keggers – not even when the gorgeous Roger Freeman climbs into her car unexpectedly one night on campus. The two are inexplicably drawn together, but when Caroline’s offered a prestigious internship that could lead to a job at The New York Times, she leaves Roger behind for more serious prospects.

Six years later, back home and starting a new career as a florist, she’s shocked to run into Roger again. He’s never forgotten the girl who left him to find herself, though he’s certainly tried. No one compared to the adventurous and exciting Caroline. As the two begin seeing each other and grow closer, he finds it impossible to resist falling for her charms once more. What he doesn’t know is that Caroline’s life over the last few years has been filled with tragedy, and the adventurous and exciting woman he remembers is all but gone.

Is Roger ready to risk his heart again, and is Caroline ready to trust him with her story?

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A copy of this book was received in exchange for an honest review.

After pranking rival frat house, Roger Freeman needs to make a quick getaway. With a whole fraternity on his tail, he jumps into the most inconspicuous car he can find and straight into Caroline Sanders passenger seat. Her only alternative to get lynched by an angry frat mob, Caroline heeds to Rogers request and gets him away from the crime scene.

What should’ve been a quick ‘drop him off and get back to my life’ turns into a new friendship as Roger shows up at Caroline’s door again and again.

Caroline has taken college life seriously. With a clear goal in sight, it’s left her no time to partake in parties, relationships or anything else that sways from the smooth path Caroline has paved out for herself. As her friendship with Roger develops, she never does let her guard down long enough to find out where it could lead. When she lands a dream internship that could solidify her future, there is no doubt in her mind that she should take it, even if it means leaving Roger behind.

Six years later and off the back of a terrifying and tragic incident, Caroline’s now working at a florist, her dreams of journalism morphed into nightmares that refuse to leave her alone.

When Roger runs into the one that got away, he knows something about Caroline has inexplicably changed. Not exactly where he wanted life to take him either, Roger’s stuck in a relationship rut. He doesn’t want to get into anything with anyone and feels his life lacks purpose. One glance at Caroline and Roger finds himself drawn to her once more.

As the string that pulled the two together in the first place, winds up again, Roger and Caroline find themselves a fixture in each other’s lives and it’s up to Roger to show Caroline that not only does he need her in it, she also needs to confront the nightmares that are stunting her personal and professional growth—even if this does mean risking his own heart.

I really enjoyed the college parts of the book where the two main characters are carefree and happy. Though they do have normal life problems, this part of the book had a weightless and fun feel about it. Caroline is a happy and driven girl and Roger is….adorable. The chemistry between the two zaps off the page and I fell in love with both of the characters. Honestly, when Caroline left without Roger, my heart broke for him and I wanted to strangle Caroline—just a little bit.

The tone of the book shifts when we meet the two six years down the line. Roger has had to financially and emotionally support his family after his father walked out on them. Not particularly happy with where his life had taken him, Roger has found a kind of solace in photography—the very thing that reminds him of Caroline.

Caroline has walked away from her dream career after being in the center of a horrifying experience, one that she blames herself for. This tonal shift, though dark in places, brings a realism to the book that I appreciated. How easy it would’ve been for the author to glaze over the events that traumatized Caroline, but they were handled well and tackled with sensitivity.

As well as suffering through the emotional vestiges of her failed career, Caroline can’t help but feel that everyone in her life leaves her.

That was what people did. They left. They moved on with their lives, leaving her with the painful burden of their absence.

Roger, though abandoned by his father, is not so blighted by the people that leave him behind and instead will risk his heart to keep the woman that got away.

She’s annoyed me, angered me, humored me, and made my heart split in two. But the one thing I know with certainty, now that the years have passed, is that being with her and experiencing all those crazy emotions fills a void in my life. I NEED her more than I need to breathe.

Throughout the book Roger remained as sweet as he had always been, Caroline however has a big personality shift. Though I was sympathetic to her emotional plight, there were times where I felt that she was just being too stubborn and sometimes I wanted to shake her and tell her to stop being so mean. I also felt that her thoughts were a little disjointed from her actions, even in her college days. This disconnect left me scratching my head in places, though overall it didn’t have a negative impact on how I feel about the book.

Need Me is a beautiful tale of the emotional journey of two souls who, though on course to collide, missed each other by a fraction. A lover of the second chance romance trope, this book was a satisfying read that tugged at my heartstrings and fuelled the hope that every person should have simmering within them.

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