Layla Flaherty had the perfect life, or close to it. Until a stranger gunned her parents down right in front of her, leaving her with seizure inducing PTSD. After years of trying to pass as normal and failing miserably, she resigns herself to being invisible. But new to town Landen O’Brien sees her, and he likes what he sees. Much to Layla’s surprise, he doesn’t freak out when she has a seizure in front of him. He does the exact opposite, calming her until the tremors subside. But Landen has secrets of his own. Secrets that both bind them together and tear them apart.
Scarred by loss, Layla leaves her hometown of Hope Springs, Georgia, hoping to put her painful past behind her and start over in college in California. When she runs into Landen at freshmen orientation, she has a choice to make. Reinforce those steel walls she's built up around herself or give the only boy who can keep her still a second chance.
Landen’s more than ready to tear down those walls but this time when they come crashing down, they might bury her.
This review is for Let You Leave (Keep Me Still #0.5), Keep Me Still (#1), and Hold Us Close (#1.5) by Caisey Quinn.
Let You Leave (5 stars) is the prequel novella and finds Layla Flaherty going back to high school. She has been home schooled since her parents were gunned down in front of her - causing severe PTSD. There she meets Landon O'Brien who is instantly drawn to her and doesn't treat her differently like everyone else does. Layla has withdrawn from friends and activities but Landon brings her back to life. He gives her unconditional love and friendship. What follows is a beautiful courtship that had my heart soaring. Layla and Landon were just perfect together and I thoroughly enjoyed reading their teenage romance!
"Her lips curl sweetly upward and I'm at a loss for words. That look, the one that says I've made her day, made her life, stops all mental function."
"Until a girl you didn't know existed two weeks ago looks at you like you're the only reason she's had to smile in her entire life."
Keep Me Still (4.5 stars) finds Layla and Landon at the same college after a summer-long separation. Layla is stronger now that she has survived her senior year of high school and she has a new friend: her college roommate. She is still very hurt by Landon and his actions and is unsure if she wants to move forward in a relationship with him. Landon, however is mesmerized by Layla and takes every opportunity he can to push them together. He was so determined and caring - I just couldn't help but love him. It doesn't hurt that he is just plain HOT. Plus, I'll never look at a milkshake the same way again!
Keep Me Still was about these two brilliant characters finding their way with each other. Navigating that tricky time in college when everything is new and decisions put a huge weight on your shoulder - and that's just for students with normal issues. These characters literally had the weight of the world on their shoulders yet they learned to live and love.
“I am so gone. Lost. Her smile, the little sigh she lets out, the way her eyes light up. All of it. I’m broken down and rebuilt. And nothing will ever be the same again.”
The writing in this book had my emotions in knots. I could really FEEL the characters - their love, their passion, and their pain. Living in both Layla and Landon's heads through dual POVs gave the reader a glimpse into their thought process. I loved that Layla had grown stronger and that she had a support system of friends. Corin and Skylar were a hilarious addition to the novel as their friends and roommates. Landon was persistent and loving... always thinking of Layla and the future. Each character had such depth and personality. I felt like I was watching a movie in my head while I was holding my breath.
“Jesus, Layla. I’ve always wanted you, since that first day. Not a minute has passed since the first time I laid eyes on you that I haven’t wanted you. Needed you. I will always want you. Even if I screw this up so badly you stop wanting me back.”
Hold Us Close (4 stars) finds Layla and Landon together, but with issues to be worked out. Keep Me Still ended rather abruptly so I was happy to have this followup novella that answers the question: "What happens after Happily Ever After?". Not everything is roses for Layla and Landon. Layla still has health problems and Landon has a predisposition to anger management issues. I enjoyed reading about them as a couple living their life and facing real challenges that many couples face. This one ties up all the lose ends and gives this delightful couple the happy ending they deserve!
I highly recommend this series to those looking for an emotional romance that puts you on an emotional roller coaster - you'll love feeling all of the ups and downs!