⚠ Warning: This review contains minor teasers
• BLURB •
No one would say that our story is pretty.
But we were in love before we hated each other.
And we were friends long before that.
Growing up, I saw Jace Zielinski every day.
He lived next door. I cheered him on at football games. I gave him advice on girls. He was my brother’s best friend and the three of us were always together.
I didn’t realize I’d already fallen for Jace until the hot summer night when we kissed for the first time.
Our magical season felt like destiny.
And then came the disaster that tore us all to shreds.
I lost Jace. I lost my brother. In many ways I lost myself.
Ten years later, Jace is untouchable in a world of pro athlete fame and glory.
I never wanted to see him again and I’d definitely never pick him to be my hero.
Not even when I’m broke and terrified and running away from ruin.
But it seems I have no choice.
Somehow we’re both back in the same place where we started.
I have nowhere else to go and Jace refuses to leave.
We’re on this collision course together.
Fated to repeat our own turbulent history.
Both the parts that felt the best.
And the parts that hurt the most.
• MY REVIEW •
“And the truth was, I wanted the boy next door. My brother’s best friend. I wanted him bad.”
Ay. Cora Brent… Why didn’t I discover your books sooner??! 😱😍 Till It Hurts was utterly addictive and I loved reading every page of it! The happy times, the heartbreaking moments, the past, the present… all of it! ❤
I couldn’t have lucked out any better by having Till It Hurts as my introduction to Cora Brent. This was an exceptional story. I knew right from the first chapter that Tori’s and Jace’s story would be an epic journey and it did not disappoint. I immediately liked Cora’s writing style, I thought it was effortless to follow and kept me engaged. I was instantly invested in getting to know more about these characters who had such a bond that was bound to break at some point, and I needed to know why.
Firstly — this story had quite a range of tropes that all played off of each other well:
- Brother’s Best Friend
- Friends to Lovers
- Love to Hate to Love
- Second Chance Romance
- Sports Romance
- New Adult
- Small Town
I’ve only encountered a handful of the brother’s best friend trope in my romance reads but this was by far the most complex, cleverly written storyline I’ve read. It’s honestly now one of my favourite contemporary romance books. It was very-well paced that it read like I was watching a romantic drama play out in front of me. Just needed my popcorn.
It’s told from dual points of view and switches back and forth from past to present day. I find when stories involve flashbacks to the past, it can either be a little draining to read through (and no longer holds your attention), and/or it disturbs the flow and pacing of the overall story. With Till It Hurts I had neither of those issues. The back and forth was well executed and I found whenever the story went back to their past it only elevated the story in the present. I thought their history was just as intriguing as their present. And I honestly couldn’t favour one friend or relationship over the others. Tori, Colt, and Jace are all equally lovable characters and I quickly felt protective of them all.
“If you’re not willing to push yourself till it hurts then you’re not doing life right.”
Let’s start with Colt. He is Jace’s best friend and Tori’s younger brother. He’s the more thrill-seeking, carefree of the three, and despite being the youngest he’s protective and has such strong presence in their group dynamic. He’s literally the link between Tori and Jace.
Tori, is the oldest but the boys take care of her, just as equally as she cares for them. She’s the more sensible one and makes sure they keep out of trouble. When she loves, she loves whole-heartedly.
Jace, makes three. He’s the boy next door who quickly connected with Colt, and naturally Tori right after (as Tori and Colt were inseparable). He’s easy-going and tends to go with the flow. He’s always thoughtful—even when they were teens.
This trio rivals some of my all time favourite fictional friendships. I love their dynamics, it feels so genuine and down-right relatable seeing how their interact with one another— from their lighthearted ribbing, to their full-blown heart-to-hearts, to even their fiery arguments. As the story progresses and their lives slowly unravel before you, it’s evident how much these three are inseparable. They have such vivid history starting from their childhood, to their teens, to eventually reconnecting as adults and reminiscing. The way Cora has written their story and the way they share their memories, you almost have to remind yourself that this was a work of fiction.
The world-building not only was vast and detailed, but it totally set the entire atmosphere amongst these friends and the story being told. It had an air of drama and suspense, but also wistfulness and a sense of time truly passing by. Even with minor side stories occurring in the background alongside additional secondary characters, the story didn’t stray from its initial premise. If anything, it added more dimension to an already layered storyline.
The character development was steady and constant. Seeing Colt, Tori, and Jace grow and evolve depending on what life threw at them… I found it so engaging I had a hard time putting the book down until I finished.
If Cora hoped the friendship between these three would be believable to her readers, she no doubt succeeded. If she wanted to make her readers feel the strong, loving sibling relationship between Colt and Tori— yep, done! If she wanted readers to effortlessly see the love between Tori and Jace was pure goodness and a once-in-a-lifetime, she fucking well did that too! If she wanted her readers to authentically see the brotherhood that Colt and Jace had, she hit the nail! 👏👏👏
The friendships and relationships between the three were a complex rollercoaster. It made me feel nostalgic for the friendships I had growing up, to my first love, to all the teen drama that at the time felt like world-ending situations.
In the end they have their happily ever after, but I’m not going to lie, it was a rocky road ahead for each of them. They all had their situations, they all had their own paths to take, and they all needed time for wounds to heal.
“People are flawed, Tori. We don’t always do what we should. All we can do is learn and try to be better than we were.”
This was a story full of life, and with it comes love, hate, guilt, frustration, remorse, and a whole array of other emotions. Just like in reality, Colt, Tori, and Jace go through struggles, insecurities, and personal issues. Whilst there was one particular plot point I saw coming a mile away, it no way deterred me from continuing (if anything it made me more curious to see how it would affect the ending). In my opinion, Cora wrote a beautiful and hearty journey for each character that all intricately connected to tell one big story.
And speaking of endings… I’m truly giddy with excitement at the little tidbit that Cora revealed at the end of her book. Whilst I was near finishing reading it, I knew I wasn’t ready for it all to be completely over. If you do end up reading this book, I have no doubts that you would be just as thrilled with the news as I was. Thank you, Cora! 🙌
I should point out the sports element was a backdrop to this small town, contemporary romance story. Whilst it did add a layer to these characters’ story, it wasn’t the main focus (more a starting off point). There’s also some sensitive subject matter that may be triggering for some readers, such as loss, violence and addiction (resulting in grief and PTSD). It also contains sexual content, suitable for readers 18+ only.
“You might have to keep pushing till it hurts in order to find your way home. But take heart. Because happily ever afters do exist.”
Till It Hurts will transport you to a small town full of history, to a quaint neighbourhood, and to a trio with a bond that knows no bound. Overall, I couldn’t fault it, and for that, I highly recommend it to my friends and fellow romance readers to pick up too! You won’t be disappointed.
Thank you Cora Brent and Candi Kane PR for the opportunity to read an advanced copy! 💙
Happy reading, guys! Catch you in my next one! Xo