Author: Ranae Rose
Publication date: September 5th, 2013
Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
Time changes everything, except what's meant to be.
Seven years is a long time--long enough to transform Clementine from a small-town teenager with a broken heart into a woman ready to take on the world, but not long enough to make her forget about the man she was never supposed to see again. A temporary return to tiny Willow Heights thrusts her back into Donovan's life and home, unearthing heartbreak and obsession that have stood the test of time.
He left seven years ago too, for war and other things Clementine can only imagine. Coming back to the town where he grew up in the shadow of poverty and drug addiction makes no sense, and neither do Clementine's feelings for him. He could never forgive her for leaving, could he? Even if she had no choice.
Now, she has the freedom to choose... and so does he. Every day in Willow Heights makes it clearer: all he ever really wanted was her, and nothing will change that. Not even a taste of the hell that drove them apart in the first place.
I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Out of all the review books I have, why did I choose this one? Uh, have you seen the cover? I mean, hot as hell is a more appropriate definition of it. Yes, I know... as a reviewer I have learned you should never judge a book by it's cover but what can I say? Cover appeal does tend to play a role periodically in my next book selection. I was in the mood for something titillating and exciting, so I chose this one to see if the story was as good as the cover art.
Clementine had never actually intended to come back to Willow Heights. She left it seven years ago to go to college and had planned to never look back. She had put her past behind her, or so she thought. When circumstances drive her to venture back to her hometown for a spell while looking for her dream job, she had forgotten how much of her life was centered around the town and it's inhabitants. One inhabitant in particular was her ex-boyfriend, Donovan. She left him behind and knew that he probably harbored ill feelings for her after her abandonment. When she lays eyes on the man she used to love, her heart starts to race just like it did when they were young and in love. She knows she has to stay away from Donovan or risk trouble with her family as well as risk her heart shattering all over again, but for some reason the fates have intervened and she is forced to share a house and even a bed with the only man she has ever loved.
As if Clementine's turmoil over Donovan isn't enough it seems there is a murderer on the loose and he has his eye set on Clementine and her family. When Donovan gets accused of the crime it is up to Detective Clementine to solve the case and put the true guilty party behind bars.
This book was actually physically painful to read. The back and forth between the protagonists seemed unrealistic. Some of Donovan's mental issues were referenced but never really described in detail. I would see rising action to a big scene to describe what went on in Clementine and Donovan's lives while they were apart and then it would never happen. Their past together is all well and good but can't a bit of their lives apart be also explained?
The relationship between the two seemed forced and all too easily resolved. Then instead of simply keeping the book firmly rooted in the contemporary romance category a murder mystery gets thrown in all willy-nilly. A murder mystery that was solved way too easily by the party confessing so all of Clementine's detective work was simply page filler that had no rhyme or reason.
I tried to find a redeeming quality in this book, but I just couldn't. I couldn't find anything in it that spoke to me or kept me reading. The only thing that made me finish the book was it's short length and my determination to give it a fair shake all the way to the end.
All I can say about Hell Without You is that it was kind of hell with this cast of characters. Unfortunate but... true.