Favorite Quote: “It was like the second coming of Christ, if Jesus had been one of three brothers who’d hit it big with a record deal right out of high school.”
Reviewed by Tori
It’s been ten years since Zach Carter and his brothers hit it big and moved to L.A. Life in the fast lane was hard to explain to anyone who didn’t live it–so how could his best friend Ellie understand? Now that he’s returned to his hometown to deal with a crisis, the consequences have piled up around him. But what hasn’t changed is how bad he wants Ellie back in his arms.
A decade after high school graduation and Ellie has never been more content–until Zach Carter, her oldest friend, her first love, and the boy she lost her virginity to, walks back into her life after ten years without so much as a postcard. And one thing the tabloids couldn’t prepare her for was how much this man still makes her heart race.
Ellie is determined to prove to Zach that she’s moved on and doesn’t need him. Everyone important in her life has left her, including Zach, so why would this time be different? But there’s no way she can avoid him while he’s back in their hometown, fighting for her attention…and forgiveness. And her body won’t let her forget he’s in town, either. (Goodreads)
These Wounds Run Deep by Ember Leigh is a stand-alone second chance romance that attempts to rebloom on an antagonistic base. This is a fun sometimes heartbreaking trope as you watch a former couple revisit their relationship and reexamine it through the eyes of an adult. Leigh’s sure hand and solid plotting help the storyline flow along at a steady clip with interjections of humor and bittersweet moments. Emotional dialogue, engaging protagonists, and low-key sexual tension envelope this story of two former best friends and lovers who are reunited after ten years and try to work past the anger and pain to see if they can have a future together
Our story opens with Ellie. A hometown girl who owns a local business and recently broke up with the town golden boy. Shocked to hear her former best friend, Zach, and his brothers are back in town after their band became famous, she struggles to process how she feels about this. She has spent the last ten years essentially grieving the loss of her best friend and has finally reached the acceptance stage. Only now he’s back and wants to make up and rekindle their friendship…and possibly more.
While Zach wasn’t expecting the same girl he left behind, he was surprised and turned on by the strong, sarcastic, independent woman she has become. He and his brothers have come home to help with their parents; their father had a stroke and their mother has Alzheimer’s. They decide to stay and give a benefit concert to help the town and Zach use that to push his agenda to reconnect with Ellie. At times he comes off childish. He seems caught in a time warp where he is still 19 years old. He wasn’t as defined as Ellie and it showed in his dialogue and actions concerning her. Though he comes off as the villain in here, he owns his mistakes right off the bat and tries to explain what happened. How it happened. He’s not proud of how he handled it and apologizes profusely for his actions and the pain he caused.
“I was an idiot kid who didn’t realize what was going on. I had no concept of the importance of friendship. I didn’t know how to handle my feelings…I just didn’t get it.”
The slow journey towards acceptance, forgiveness, and ultimately love controls a large portion of the story. Leigh doesn’t attempt to sugar coat what Zach did and takes her time to effectively communicate to readers this couple’s emotional spectrum. Ellie was terribly hurt by Zach walking away and completely cutting off all communication with her after they made love for the first time-losing their virginity to one another. Having already lost her mother to cancer and her father to alcohol and the religion, Zach and his family were the only good things in her life and when he left, she lost them too. She eventually moved on, building a fulfilling life and business for herself, but inside, she is that same teenager wondering what was so wrong with her to make everyone leave her.
“No matter how badly I wanted to talk to you, I couldn’t because you had abandoned me. And even though you had abandoned me, I still loved you. So much. “
Zach gives it his all to convince Ellie he has changed and wants to try again, but she doesn’t trust him. Ellie has secretly been following Zach’s life through the magazines and gossip sites and has issues reconciling her best friend with the things he’s done. Even after his apologies and efforts to make things better, Ellie has her doubts and is really waiting for him to once again leave her and rebreak her heart. This couple has to reacquaint themselves with the people they have grown into and it’s a long winding road. It doesn’t help that Ellie and Zach have external factors attempting to hinder their reconciliation. Ellie uses hers as a shield against her growing feelings for Zach while Zach’s issues are not (all) of his making but affect him nonetheless.
Various other members of the Carter family are integrated into the story, each having conflicts of their own to deal with. I enjoyed meeting Zach’s brothers and hope Leigh writes their stories too. The main conflict and various subplots blend well with the romance though at times the romance seems to get buried beneath Zach’s family’s drama. The sometimes clunky dialogue, questionable choice of descriptive words
and Leigh’s need to drag out the conflict and make Ellie look especially quarrelsome dragged the storyline down at times but it also wasn’t enough to throw me off. These Wounds Run Deep was an enjoyable and heartfelt story that addresses love, loss, redemptions, and forgiveness. I look to forward to revisiting the Carter family in the future.