I Stand Before You by S.R. Grey
Series: Judge Me Not #1
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: September 3, 2013
Format: eARC, 412 pages
How I got it: From the author
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
When it comes to tattooed bad boys, Chase Gartner is the real deal. Partying, engaging in meaningless sex, getting into fights---Chase indulges in it all during his late teen years, thus firmly solidifying his status as a heartbreakingly gorgeous but way-too-dangerous-to-trust guy in his hometown of Harmony Creek, Ohio. Then, following one fateful night of reckless decisions, Chase's actions finally catch up to him and land him in prison.
Now, four years have passed and Chase finds himself a free man. He returns to Harmony Creek, ready to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding his shattered life.
Things are off to a promising start when he meets Kay Stanton, a young woman with a tragic past of her own. Despite a powerful attraction, Chase and Kay are naturally hesitant to become involved. That's why friendship feels like the safest option. But when passions ignite and love blossoms, a relationship that is destined and meant to be can only be resisted for so long. When Chase and Kay finally succumb to their feelings they realize being together feels more right and true than anything they have ever experienced.
But their love is soon tested. Chase's wild past still haunts and tempts him, and Kay is keeping a secret that could tear them apart.
I Stand Before You is a journey of hope and forgiveness, coming to terms with the past and moving forward. But mostly it's a story of two damaged people who take a chance, open their hearts, and find true love.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
In Review: My Thoughts
I Stand Before You is a fantastic, character-driven book. It’s a story about absolution and finding true love. I was absolutely enthralled with it from beginning to end. It took me through a myriad of emotions and left me wanting more at the end.
“Twenty years of age feels like ninety when your freedom is stripped away.”
I was taken with Chase immediately. His prologue was powerful. It was a long chapter that set the tone for the book perfectly. It explained perfectly the family history that led Chase to the path he was on four years before the bulk of the book is set. It also gave the reader a glimpse into Chase’s mind. I was able to understand his motivation and the poor decisions that led to his incarceration. Chase is trying to move on from the mistakes of his past. He had served his time and is now a contributing member of his community. He wants to prove to everyone that he’s not that guy anymore. He has no one. His mother abandoned him because of his resemblance to his father, his brother wants nothing to do with him since he got out of prison and the grandmother he was living with in Harmony Creek passed away. He may be a tattooed, sexy as hell “bad-boy” on the surface, but deep down he’s vulnerable and looking for something more.
“I’m waiting for a man that leaves me breathless, a man who knocks me off my feet right from the beginning. He’s out there, I know it. And when the time is right our paths will cross, probably when I least expect it. I’ve always heard that’s how these things go.”
Kay is also dealing with a tragic mistake from her past. She can’t move on from the death of her sister and continues to blame herself. Her whole life is wrapped up in her church and her job. She hasn’t had a relationship – or, ahem, relations – in three years. She doesn’t want to settle. She wants the real thing. Kay is intensely attracted to Chase when they first meet, but she is unwilling to entertain the thought of him because of his past. Until, that is, they begin to truly get to know one another.
“I can no longer deny this ‘something’ that’s been building between us for weeks, and it feels bigger than the both of us. It’s like I’m caught up in a current, a current of destiny. And, frankly, I’m losing my will to swim against it.”
Don’t go looking for “insta-love” here. Their path is so much more than that. Theirs was my favorite type of relationship – the slow burn. Their chemistry was intense. The sexual tension was crazy-good. But, in the midst of all that, they took the time to get to know one another. They didn’t jump feet-first into a relationship – physical or otherwise. It was the most delightful form of “will they? won’t they?” torture. I loved every minute of it. Oh, and when they finally get down to business? H.O.T. There was some serious steam in this book.
“For Chase, I accept dares, I’m learning to take chances. He makes me feel unafraid. I’m willing to let go and live when I am with this man.”
Chase and Kay are one of my new favorite book couples. Not only were they easy to relate to, they were easy to care about. I wanted both of them to get their happy ending – together, if at all possible. They had both been through so much in their lives. Each had made a decision years before that impacted their lives in innumerable ways. Together, I hoped they would be able to overcome their pasts and move forward. Their feelings for each other were so real and powerful. It may have all started with desire and chemistry, but it was much deeper than that. Their journey wasn’t easy, but it was real.
I love S.R. Grey’s writing style. It’s real and gritty. Her characters were amazing and complex and her storyline was unique. I look forward to reading more from her in the future.