Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I fear no fate for you are my fate…”
Caleb Martin and Isabelle (Iz) Sawyer are finally in a good place together. Iz has gotten her father into rehab for his drinking, is back in college taking the art classes she wants, and has found love with Caleb. Caleb is gaining status in the club and is ready to take the next step with Iz. When an unexpected event occurs, this couple takes it in stride, secure in their love for one another.
But life has a way of getting in the way when you least expect it. Choices are made that lead to some serious and heartbreaking consequences. When two people hit rock bottom, the only thing left to do is to claw their way back into the light and find their way home.
Carry You Home is the conclusion to Carry Your Heart. Second chance romances are my kryptonite. There is something very addictive in seeing a romance gone wrong and the efforts the couple will put into making it right again. Especially if the author keeps the plot realistic, allowing us to not only follow along but actually relate to the couple and the sheer amount of work relationships take. What I truly enjoyed was the lack of formula in this sequel. This is an emotional journey fueled by choices and charged with love, loss, regret, guilt, and forgiveness. Well written with a smooth storyline, intriguing conflicts,and multi layered characters; Ryan forces our couple to take leaps of faith as they look deep inside themselves for the answers to their questions.
Picking up right where book one left off, Caleb and Isabelle have truly committed to one another. When Iz discovers she’s pregnant, her emotions are all over the place. She has just gotten to the point where her art is being noticed and she experiences what all soon to be parents wonder- how much of her life will change and how much will she have to give up for her expanding family. She is also having to deal with Caleb making decisions for the both of them without consulting her. Isabelle is independent by nature and she is beginning to feel as if her choices are being taken from her.
Caleb adores Iz but you can see he still has abandonment issues and this shows in his thoughts and actions. He’s a provider and a protector. Her pregnancy is a God send for him because in his mind, it further strengthens the ties that already bind them together and assures him to some extent that she can never leave him.
Told in alternating POVs, we are able to see their thoughts as their worlds begin to shatter. Ryan deepens the characterizations of Caleb and Iz; showing them as individuals; and allowing us to see the fear that traps them and the risks they are each willing to take to be free. A pattern begins to form, cluing the reader into the underlying issues that were swept aside and are now demanding to be heard.
This is not your typical MC romance story. Thought the MC features a larger more action packed role in this sequel, it is still one of many elements that has chipped away at this relationship. The strong emotional base leaves the reader with a heavy heart as we watch our couple try to understand what went wrong in order to move forward. Especially Caleb. He learns a very hard lesson in here as he begins to see the long term damage his actions have caused. While we could say his poor choices were the beginning of the end, he cannot be blamed for it all. The event that was the catalyst was merely one of many in their path towards destruction.
I really enjoyed how Ryan doesn’t give them an easy fix to their relationship. The characters have to work hard to repair the damage they each played a part in creating. It’s a time of self awareness and reflection. You can feel the anger, resentment, confusion, and hurt rolling off of them but they both realize that until they are happy with themselves, they’ll never be happy together. The emotional and mental baggage that each carry is finally out in the open and the author allows that to happen in a realistic manner. It’s painful as you watch these two struggle to find their way back to themselves and each other.
All in all, I enjoyed this contemporary romance saga. It is an easy read that manages to capture the bittersweet pinch of love and loss without indulging in ridiculous melodrama or over saturated purple prose. I did feel at times the dual narrative slowed down the story. Being privy to every thought and action is nice but very time-consuming. I also found one particular scene between Caleb and the MC a little unbelievable.
Regardless, Carry You Home maintained it’s feel good theme, even with the emotional theme, as you watch this couple overcome adversity and learn that sometimes you have to lose everything in order to appreciate what you had.