Series: Twisted Love #2
Genres: New Adult, Romance
The sequel to Lead Me Not, this dangerously sexy second installment in the Twisted Love series continues Aubrey and Maxx’s love story, from New York Times bestselling author A. Meredith Walters—who “writes the most beautifully flawed characters that still have you swooning” (Sawyer Bennett, USA Today bestselling author of the Off series).
Aubrey Duncan has loved…and lost. Should she follow a heart that’s betrayed her or a head that tells her to let go?
Maxx Demelo’s addiction almost destroyed him. It ruined his life and, most importantly, his relationship with the only girl he ever loved.
He has vowed to become the man Aubrey Duncan deserves. Even if he has to tear himself apart to do it. So he enters rehab, trying to fix the parts of him that are shattered as he longs to be healthy and whole.
Aubrey lost everything because she chose to listen to her heart. Now she has sworn to put herself first, to heal in the only way that she can…far away from Maxx and his demons.
But just as Aubrey is starting over, Maxx is released from rehab and thrust back into her world, determined to prove how much they still need each other. And the chaos that had defined them threatens to unleash once again…
But a heart, no matter how broken, is impossible to ignore.
This review contains spoilers for Lead Me Not, the first book in the Twisted Love series.
Aubrey and Maxx left me reeling at the end of Lead Me Not, and since then I’d been anticipating Follow Me Back. These two were so very broken had experienced more than any couple should have to endure. I bled for them, but by the end of Lead Me Not, I felt hope that they would get their much deserved happy ending. This brings be to Follow Me Back and the conflicting feelings I felt for these characters and their story. This book had all the layers and depth of any A. Meredith Walters story, but I think the general mood was too bleak and I had difficulty holding on to the hope I felt at the end of Lead Me Not.
Follow Me Back begins with Aubrey and Maxx recovering from their devastating break-up. Aubrey is dealing with the consequences of crossing ethical and professional boundaries, and Maxx is in rehab fighting for his life and drowning from the guilt and regret of thoroughly disappointing the people he loved most. I loved that Walters realistically conveyed Maxx’s torment and Aubrey’s rage. She did a superb job of showing how bent these characters were because of their reckless love.
“Even when he was gone, Maxx was everywhere. His art. His love. His chaos. I couldn’t escape him. And I was terrified that in the darkest recesses of my heart I still didn’t want to.”
I was very conflicted while I was reading this book. Because I became attached to Aubrey and Maxx, I couldn’t let them go as a couple, even when I knew that they couldn’t continue as they were. As Aubrey fought to move on from Maxx there were times when I hated her because she was letting him go. I understood that she needed to see him as an addict and to accept that he was dangerous to her happiness, but sometimes I thought he was portrayed as a villain, and I didn’t like that. He was the big bad and she had to stay away from him.
Then there were times when I wanted to throttle Maxx, and completely sided with Aubrey. He was weak. He was manipulative. He wasn’t who I thought he was. But then I realized that that’s how I was supposed to feel. Maxx was battling with his identity; completely lost regarding who he was without the swagger he’d worn as a mask, and adrift without the drugs to lift his self-confidence. It was hard for me to see him as he was while he while he tried to recover – as hard as it was for him to see himself.
“…I wavered between wanting to do things right and wanting to get back to the life I used to have. The one where I didn’t feel so small and helpless. The one where I felt in control.”
As Maxx struggled with his new reality and fought to handle his responsibilities without giving into the temptation of his former life – a life that was so easy, Aubrey punished herself for being so stupid, for falling so completely, for trusting so wholly, and for being unable to let go.
“Because as much as I was trying desperately to believe otherwise, I knew that I loved this man, as much as I ever had. It was a love without logic. It was a love without sense. It was a love that had no real place in the world I was trying to build for myself.”
I knew that these two would suffer a bit before they could get their happy ending. I knew that A. Meredith Walters would show the true torment people experience when facing these circumstances, but I needed more hope interwoven in this story, I needed something to hold on to as I waited for these characters to come through the storm. It wasn’t until I was past the halfway mark that I saw a glint of light, but then it flickered and threatened to blow out because of Maxx’s fear and weakness. Without spoiling the ending too much, I’ll say that I was happy with how things turned out, but I can’t say that I was completely satisfied. I felt like I was put through the wringer, but then when I was set free, the reward wasn’t worth the price.
I waited a long time to find out what happened with these two, and with some truly beautiful writing A. Meredith Walters deftly portrayed a twisted love story. I recommend this series to those who like real darkness in their romance. If you like to see your characters rise from the ashes, then this is a love story that you’ll enjoy.
“What’s wrong with us?”
“We love too hard and too recklessly, I think.”