Born on the poor side of town…
Ballerina Dovey Beckham is a scholarship student at Briarcrest Academy, determined to prove she’s more than just a girl with the wrong pedigree. She does whatever it takes to succeed in her endgame, even if it means surrendering her body…but never her heart.
Until the day she meets him, and he rips apart all her well-laid plans. Suddenly, the girl everyone thought unbreakable might just shatter.
Born into wealth and privilege…
Cuba “Hollywood” Hudson is rich, spoiled, and a star football player. With his fast cars and superficial girlfriends, he lives the high-life, hiding his secrets from the world.
Until the day he meets her, and she offers him something he’s never tasted…love.
But once in a lifetime kind of love doesn’t come easy. When trust crumbles and doubts creep in, both will have to decide to either love or let go…forever.
Katerina Dovey Beckham is one of the “lucky” ones allowed to grace the hallowed halls of Briarcrest Academy, the prestigious private school located in Dallas, TX. Attending under a dance scholarship, she looked forward to leaving BA for more than just a pursuit of her dream to dance professionally. The sooner her senior year came to an end, the sooner she would be away from Him. She did not really belong among the privileged students, anyway. There were no designer clothing in her closet, her car was a beater on a good day, and her neighborhood of Ratcliffe Heights was a haven for drug addicts and prostitutes. She was only concerned with caring for her guardian, Sarah, as she slowly faded away under the talons of Alzheimer’s. Why should she care if He chose to ignore her? Why did she still ache to have Him see her?
Cuba Hudson had it all. More money than he could spend, a boss car, a sculpted body honed by his natural athletic abilities, a face considered “man-candy” quality, and more girls fawning after him than he could notch on his bedpost. He owned Briarcrest Academy. If he wanted to focus on his pre-Med major in college, he would need to buckle down. He had let his grades slide in the last year, and he needed to get his act together. Like anyone had noticed. His father was too busy immersing himself in the Dallas Maverick’s basketball team as part-owner. He often chose to stay downtown in his penthouse rather than come home to invest himself with his son’s progress, or lack of progress as of late. No worries. He did not need anyone. Especially Her. His locker mate. He felt Her hatred like it was a visceral thing. He deserved Her hatred because he had kicked her while she was down. Hard. She was off limits, and Cuba wanted, needed to stay the fuck away from Her.
The beginning of this story is pure hell. There are no flowery moments, and the emotions that well up as the words unfold are a mixture of revulsion, hatred, and mind-numbing terror for a child that grew up too quickly in a world that offered little hope and loving memories. Dovey had a hard edge for a ten year old girl, and had backbone, tenacity, and guts that were partly earned through the environment she grew up in and the genetics that she had no part in melding.
“Ratcliffe wasn’t for wussies. You had to be vigilant because people disappeared and wound up dead every day. Sure, most of them were crackheads and hookers, but everybody had a target on their back, even a ten-year-old kid like me.” …”Because even at my young age, I recognized the truth: my somedays were killing me one dream at a time. I was never getting out of Ratcliffe. I was never going to dance.”
Flash forward eight years to her senior year in a private school that reeks of money and class, and you still feel turmoil and torment for Dovey. However, she embraces her strong, determined spirit that allows her to shield her emotions, guard her heart, and face her demons every single day. She’s on a mission after all, to take care of her guardian, Sarah, who adopted her and taught her to dance. She’s also on a mission to overcome the love she still feels for Cuba. A love he’s never professed other than a heat-of-the-moment confession when he stole her virginity.
“ ‘I love you,’ he cried out, his eyes watching me as I went over, and yes, yes, yes, I believed his declaration. I did. The need, the hunger, the desperation, all of it was there. And my heart soared.”
It’s tough to feel anything but anguish at their story. Cuba is broken as well. He had faced and lost so much in his eighteen years that his wealth and good fortune are wasted on his psychological turmoil and self-loathing. He finds no solace in his Academy mates and their tepid concern for his welfare. He does not need any pity or false compassion, so he shuts out everyone he has ever cared for and holds them at arm’s length.
“Drowning my feelings had been comfortable, and I wanted it back. Because barely living worked for me. It’s what I deserved anyway.”
Toss in a new threat looming on the horizon to kill Dovey’s loved ones over a debt brokered with the devil of Ratcliffe’s underbelly himself, and Dovey nearly comes undone. It takes all her strength and courage to face this additional adversity. And when that threat extends not only to Sarah and their quirky neighbor but to Cuba and her best friend, Spider? Dovey decides that she’ll stop at nothing to protect her loved ones, from her past and present. Even sacrifice her own future and someday dreams.
You will come apart emotionally with this book. The alternating POVs that intertwine between Dovey and Cuba as they each reminisce about their time together before all hell broke loose are resounding in their richness and depth. It’s an epic kind of love that raises the hairs on your arms and neck. There is electricity between them that will have you gasping for their reconciliation, and praying for an end to the maddening events that unfold. There are moments when the book absolutely bleeds onto your hands, and others when you want to sigh from the sheer beauty and hope that leaps off the pages when Cuba and Dovey let their guards down.
“His lips feathered over mine gently, his tongue massaging mine, reigniting flames that had never been distinguished to begin with. He breathed life into me. And our kiss was fire and ice rolled into one. Love and hate, light and dark, our lips made a perfect symmetry. ‘I hate you’, I lied when we came up for air. His eyes darkened. ‘I like how you hate me, Dovey’”
Their love story is filled with raw need, edge-of-your-seat angst, and the cast of side characters are worthy of their own full length novels. You will hunger for more from Ilsa Madden-Mills, and she is a master at plucking your heartstrings along with stirring up longing for a resolution to Cuba and Dovey’s story.
About the Author
Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.
She spends her days with two small kids, a neurotic cat, and her Viking husband. She collects magnets and rarely cooks except to bake her own pretzels.
When she’s not typing away at a story, you can find her drinking too much Diet Coke, jamming out to Pink, or checking on her carefully maintained chocolate stash.
She loves to hear from fans and fellow authors. Drop her a line on the contact page.
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