5 INTOXICATING, HEARTBREAKING, ANGSTY, BEAUTIFUL STARS
Romance novels are, for the most part, predictable. Let's face it, you know you're getting an HEA. You know there's going to be some conflict. You can probably gather who your hero is by the points of view the story is told from. And you can typically guess who's going to get the girl just by looking at the cover.
But this book? Oh Lord, not this book.
Kandi Steiner has broken the mold with this romance novel and it confused the hell out of me in all the best ways. There is absolutely nothing predictable about this storyline. Who gets the girl when this story is told from the points of view of ALL THREE legs of this love triangle? Who is the hero of our story when the author crafts the story in such a way that you find yourself falling desperately in love with both of them equally right along with our heroine? And who the heck is the guy on this deliberately ambiguous cover? What He Always Knew gave me whiplash, gave my heart palpitations, left my stomach in knots and had me needing a drink. The angst and uncertainty within this breathtakingly beautiful romance is ON ANOTHER LEVEL OF PHENOMENAL and I can't even tell you how much I loved it.
I've had a lot of time to obsess over who I hoped Charlie would choose after finishing What He Doesn't Know. It was impossibly hard, but, yes, I eventually chose a team. I wavered between Reese and Cameron repeatedly as I read that first book but eventually I found myself leaning in one direction even though I had no confidence that the story would play out the way I imagined. But then What He Always Knew picked up exactly where the first book left off and I immediately found myself swept away once again in Charlie's emotionally tortuous predicament. Once again, my heart was pummeled and pulled in different directions. It was IMPOSSIBLE to predict how this duet might play out. Even if you choose a team, as I did, you can still typically anticipate the path an author is leading you toward even when the characters don't know it yet. But with this duet, there was no path!! It's a relentless war we take with Charlie and the emotional uncertainty never wavers until the very end.
This is a dangerously ADDICTIVE duet. I can't tell you the last time I read something that held me so tightly in it's snare. Everything from the exquisite writing to the sharp dialogue to the wholly torturous heartache that bleeds from these pages gripped me. This is easily a top favorite storyline of the year. It's perfection and it doesn't even matter whether Charlie chose my guy or not. (I'm not telling you!) It doesn't change how much I felt as I read, how difficult this story is, how brilliantly it evolves. It doesn't change how sweet and romantic and heartfelt and hopeful this journey is. It's deliciously brutal and I couldn't stop reading.
What He Always Knew completes an unbelievably intense, spellbinding love story and, in all of its wrongness and all of its rightness, IT IS PERFECTION. I loved EVERYTHING about it. The pain, the steam, the lust, the tug of war, the fight, the heartache, the absolute joy, the blissful romance, the stunning words and the wholly satisfying finish. It's everything, this duet. It's better than anything I could've hoped for. It's Steiner's masterpiece. It's maddening and beautiful and angsty and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT.