Rating: 5 stars
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Eli Mason and Creed Dickson have been rivals for the past ten years. Eli’s overactive temper mixed with alcohol has caused more than one fist fight in their long history. The most recent incident is no different. But when the two end up in front of a judge this time, they both are sentenced to house arrest on Eli’s property. Alone. Together. The theory is that they will either learn to get along or kill each other trying.
“There was too much about them that was alike but different.”
Eli has pushed people away for years. His past is not something that he likes to think about much less talk about, but having Creed around seems bring up the past more often than he would like. Pushing everyone away is what has worked to keep him safe for years and kept his painful past hidden. Somehow Creed is able to break through Eli’s defenses and into his heart, but Eli is wary to admit it. Creed is hiding a painful past as well. He is the only one who knows that he and Eli share a common enemy, and if he has his way, Eli will never know about it. Opening himself up to Eli was never part of the plan. What started off simply as sex ended up creating a bond that had the potential to heal both men or hurt them badly. When their pasts come back to haunt them, Creed and Eli struggle to keep their new relationship from falling apart. And when Creed’s horrible past is revealed, he worries that love may not be enough to heal the hurt.
After reading this story, this is one of the hardest reviews I’ve written. Mercy Celeste has a way of inciting strong emotions in readers with her writing, and this book is no different. I felt each confused, angry, numb, heart-breaking moment in this story. I hurt and I cried right along with the main characters. I desperately hated the antagonist. And I even felt their hope in the darkness. Bitter rivals, painful pasts, and tough issues are riddled throughout this book, but so are hope, happiness, and love. It is an emotional roller-coaster, yet I couldn’t put it down.
I’m not going to lie, this is a hard story with tough issues – rape and child abuse being the main ones. This author takes those issues, describes the pain caused by each one, and creates damaged, imperfect-yet-perfect characters. The depth of hurt, the fear of love, and the painful pasts are part of both of the main character’s lives, only in different ways. Characterizations of rape and abuse victims are difficult to portray in such a realistic, believable way, yet this author does a great job projecting the hurt, lack of emotion, avoidance, and denial in both Creed and Eli.
Both characters are severely broken and damaged. Eli pushes people away in order to protect himself. His temper scares people away from wanting to get to know him. The family that was supposed to care for him either died or abused him. So if he doesn’t allow people to really know him, they can’t hurt him. Creed has been emotionally numb for longer than he can remember. When his mother died, he was sent to live with his drug-addicted, rodeo bum father who pimped him out for money at an early age. As rivals, the men spent years hating each other for no good reason. When Eli and Creed are forced together in this story, it became clear to me that the only chance that these two had of healing and becoming whole was to trust one another. And the journey to get to that point was a hard, painful road.
The cast of secondary characters is also a big part of the story. And I have to say, the author did a wonderful job with the characterizations of each of them. They are characters that you will love – or hate, as the case may be – easily. Tom, Eli’s godfather, is also the judge who sentenced Creed and Eli to house arrest. He has struggled since Eli’s parents died to take care of Eli. He is a fiercely protective and caring father-figure in this story. Randy was Eli’s childhood best friend. When he returned to Florida after being taken away by his uncle, Eli was a different person. Randy’s character spends this story trying to understand Eli and get his friend back. Even when he finds out that Eli is gay, he works to support his friend and learn who Eli is all over again. Sawyer is the ranch hand and the only friend Eli has before Creed. He is a huge support and great friend to Eli. And finally, Eli’s uncle, Owen, is the antagonist, and he is described as a monster. He is a hate-filled, vile, disgusting man that one can’t help but hate while reading this story.
As I mentioned before, rape and child abuse are a prominent part of this story. As hard as the rape scenes are to read, they serve to add depth and understanding to Creed’s character. And as hurtful and sad as the child abuse scenes are, they serve to create understanding as to why Eli carries so much anger and resentment. The storyline contains rape and child abuse, but the story is not about either. It’s about overcoming difficult odds, finding love when least expected, and discovering that sometimes love can heal wounds if you allow it. Difficult issues just happen to be part of that story.
I also want to let readers know that some of the rape scenes are described in detail. I believe these scenes serve as an eye-opening part of Creed’s characterization, but they are difficult scenes nonetheless. Child abuse and prostitution are described in graphic detail within this story, as well. They are scenes that are, overall, hard for some to read, but add to the story greatly.
The plot is controversial, yes, but it is also real. Let It Go kept me riveted from beginning to end. The storyline is angsty, well-paced, and never boring. There is lots of will they? Won’t they? Can they move beyond their own ghosts? Will they ever be completely honest with one another? Can they have a true loving relationship after all that they’ve been through? Can Creed ever open up and really love Eli? Can Eli see beyond Creed’s past? It is a fascinating story with a few unexpected twists and turns to keep readers on their toes.
In the end, Let It Go by Mercy Celeste is a beautiful story of pain and sorrow as well as healing and love. Like I said earlier, it’s an emotional roller-coaster, but well worth the ride. I highly recommend it.