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An ARC copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are my own.
I have been a long time member of L.J. Evans’ ARC Team and her latest release is another reminder of why I adore her books as much as I do. Her focus on small town romances and stories tied directly to song verses, creates a reading experience like no other. When I read her books, I am always immersed into the world’s she creates. The Last One You Loved is another tear-jerker of a romance that leaves you feeling full and sated to every fiber of your being.
This is the story of Maddox and McKenna – childhood friends in a small town where everyone knows each other. McKenna is the daughter of a MC Club Owner and a horrendous mother that is known for excessive abuse of her young daughter. These are the experiences that color life for McKenna and how her relationship with Maddox grows. Maddox is the boy always there for her and welcoming her into his family. But once high school ends, McKenna wants to get as far away from this town as she can and run from all of her bad memories before they consume her.
“He’d been a beautiful soul at eighteen, and now, he was a magnificent man.”The Last One You Loved by L.J. Evans
Over a decade later and life is very different for both Maddox and McKenna; other than their deep connection that never faded. Faced with hard choices and a difficult life, McKenna needs to return to their small town and face Maddox while trying to figure out where her life is going to go.
But things are not the way they were when McKenna left and Maddox is hiding a pretty big secret that he doesn’t want McKenna to know about.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: This book does include direct and indirect references to child abuse.
I won’t even try to recall how many times I cried during this story because of the pain McKenna has experienced and how difficult her journey is to overcome those emotions. Along with all the tenderness of the relationship between her and Maddox. An absolute marvel of a small town romance that has all the clippings of a small town, including characters from around the town that make only brief appearances, but really lend to the ambience and feel of what you’re reading.
“You were always enough for me. I always wanted you.”The Last One You Loved by L.J. Evans
At the core of this story is certainly the soul-mate style connection between our two main characters, but this is surrounded by suspense that builds throughout the entire experience and really culminates in ways that pull at your heart and make you cry tears of pure happiness. You’ll get to meet some amazing family members that will most certainly be part of the expansion of this series.
As mentioned earlier, there are some trigger warnings and these should be taken seriously. If you are not comfortable reading about child abuse, then you should stay away from this one as it is a main component of the story and is weaved in throughout the entire thing. McKenna has been through some absolutely terrifying experiences, but this background of hers is part of the magic of reading about what she learns about herself and her relationship with Maddox. Cathartic moments and recovery come right along with this one.
Get ready to dive into this beautiful small town and meet everyone!
Coming September 14, 2022!
GET IT HERE:
Inspired by Jon Pardi’s “Ain’t Always the Cowboy” and Lee Brice’s “Memory I Don’t Mess With,” this second-chance, single-dad, forced-proximity love story will tug at your soul, make you laugh and cry, and leave you with a smile on your face.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning author, LJ Evans, lives in the Central Valley of California with her husband, child, and the terrors called cats. She’s been writing, almost as a compulsion, since she was a little girl and will often pull the car over to write when a song lyric strikes her. A former 1st-grade teacher, she now spends her free time reading and writing, as well as binge-watching original shows like Ted Lasso, A Discovery of Witches, Veronica Mars, and Stranger Things.
If you ask her the one thing she won’t do, it’s pretty much anything that involves dirt—sports, gardening, or otherwise. But she loves to write about all of those things, and her first published heroine was pretty much involved with dirt on a daily basis. Which is exactly why LJ loves fiction novels—the characters can be everything you’re not and still make their way into your heart.
WRITER’S DIGEST ROMANCE OF THE YEAR IN THE SELF-PUBLISHED E-BOOK AWARDS
CHARMING AND THE CHERRY BLOSSOM
INDEPENDENT AUTHOR NETWORK AWARD-WINNING NOVELS
MY LIFE AS A COUNTRY ALBUM
MY LIFE AS A ROCK ALBUM
ROMANCE AUDIO BOOK OF THE YEAR
MY LIFE AS A POP ALBUM
THE BOOKLIFE PRIZE FROM PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY SEMI-FINALIST
CROSSED BY THE STARS