I’d heard from a few different people on bookstagram that Still Beating by Jennifer Hartmann was really good – heart wrenching, but good. So of course I added it to by tbr! I read it and finished it a few days ago and it was so good.
Definitely check the trigger warnings before reading this dark romance! I haven’t read anything that has triggered me so far so this book didn’t make me pause at all. The novel is a dual POV and follows Cora and Dean. Cora and Dean have known each other since high school – so roughly 15 years – and Cora can’t stand him. They are always pulling pranks on each other and bickering. But, Cora cannot escape Dean because he has been dating her sister for 15 years and they’re engaged. One night when they’re all out, Cora decides to stay out at the bar while her sister and Dean go home. She plans to get an Uber or ride share home, but is so drunk she didn’t realize that her wallet was stolen. She doesn’t want to call her parents and she knows her sister won’t hear the phone so she calls the one person she really doesn’t want to ask for help – Dean. He comes to get her immediately, but then something horrific happens. At a stoplight, the passenger window is smashed in and someone tries to grab Cora. They try to fight off the attacker, but Dean is knocked out and then the two of them wake up hours later chained up in a basement.
What follows is 3 weeks of emotional, mental, and physical torture and the person that Cora used to hate becomes her lifeline. Their captivity is about 1/3 of the book and the rest of the book is really about how they cope and work through what happened to them. In addition to their PTSD from their abduction and abuse, the forced proximity bonded them for life and very real and deep feelings have developed between the two. But, they have a lot to work through on their own and there is a heavy feeling of guilt about their feelings since Dean is supposed to be engaged to Cora’s sister.
What made this book so good for me is the healing that goes on for Cora and Dean and the deep, life changing love between the two of them. Their love is really beautiful and is the one positive thing that came out of the horrible things they endured. They were really there for each other while trapped in the basement and even more after they were rescued.
If the dark topics in this book have you hesitant to read it I can say that while their time in captivity is definitely heavy and dark, the abuse isn’t described it too much detail and again it is only about 30% of the book. It is way less detailed and dark compared to Hunting Adeline when Addie was taken for reference if you’re familiar with that book.
I definitely want to read more from Jennifer Hartmann!
Read this if you want a dark romance with the enemies to lovers trope.
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