Cole Reynolds had it all. And then one night he makes a bad choice... and loses everything.
When a drunken night out at a Michigan State college party results in the death of six people, Cole must come to terms with his part in the tragedy. Normally, he’d be able to lean on his best friends—the ones who have been in his life since he could barely walk. Only, they’re gone. Worse, there’s the shattered body of a sixteen-year-old girl lying somewhere in a hospital bed, her entire life ripped from her because of a case of beer and a set of keys.
Everyone assures him that they know it wasn’t intentional, and yet he can’t ignore the weight of their gazes, the whispers behind his back. Nor can he shake the all-consuming guilt he feels every time he thinks of that girl who won’t so much as allow him near her hospital room to apologize. As the months go by and the shame and loneliness festers, Cole begins to lose his grip on what once was important—college, his girlfriend, his future. His life. It’s not until Cole hits rock-bottom that he can begin to see another way out of his personal hell: forgiveness.
And there’s only one person who can give that to him…
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Review by Michelle (re-post):
Trent and Kacey may very well be my favorite couple of the Ten Tiny Breaths series, although that is a very tough call to make so don't hold me to it. Although this is Trent's story before meeting Kacey and the events of Ten Tiny Breaths, there is a surprising amount of Kacey in this story enforcing the powerful connection, the irresistible compulsion, and yes even the smoldering desire between the two. Seeing Kacey before her story in the midst of her misery and her actions and behaviors to block it all out was like reliving her heartbreak all over again. Knowing what a strong, determined, spunky girl she really is and seeing the depths of her despair made my heart ache for her. It made me see her struggles in a new light and admire her perseverance even more in the end.
We know Trent is broken, we know Trent is compelled to make amends, we know the guilt that he will always live and deal with daily. This story illuminates that Trent is not just broken, Cole was shattered. Trent isn't just compelled to move on and help keep others from making the same mistakes, he is consumed with never venturing down the same road again and especially with bringing love and joy back into the life of one person in particular. Trent doesn't just face guilt and remorse, he is forced to face his grief, his depression, his turmoil, even his very existence because not only did an innocent family lose their lives and destroy someone he has come to care about deeply but he lost two brothers, and for some reason that will never truly be known, only two walked away.
K.A. Tucker is always a master of emotion, but In Her Wake went above and beyond. Trent's pain is so potent, his struggle so severe, you feel his torment so acutely, it consumes your heart and your mind and continues well after you have finished the book. Despite knowing everything we already knew about Trent's story from Ten Tiny Breaths, the intensity of his suffering is so much greater than we could fathom before while the depth of his sorrow, how he dealt with it, and a few reactions to that pain are shocking and completely unexpected. The empathy and understanding that comes from this intimate knowledge of such a beloved character's experience is invaluable and touching, captivating and compelling.
This story is perfectly paced, spanning the ideal timeframe in Trent's life and experiences, and only touching on the really important events over the course of the four years between the accident and Trent and Kacey's fateful laundry room meeting. There is zero overlap, no retelling from a different perspective, nothing you would expect from a novella from an alternate point of view, yet I could not have asked for anything more from this story. There is not a single thing that I can imagine in which I am left still wanting while the moments leading up to and the last few sentences of the book left me with chills. It is simply flawless.
In Her Wake didn't just make me want to cry time and again. It made me want to, no need to, revisit Trent and Kacey's story in Ten Tiny Breaths all over again armed with all of the knowledge In Her Wake imparts and with this new tragic perspective in mind, to experience it over again as if it were the very first time. If you are a fan of the Ten Tiny Breaths series you absolutely must read In Her Wake. Just be sure to leave a bit of room in your schedule to revisit Ten Tiny Breaths and fall even harder for Trent Emerson.
Rating: 5 Stars
About the Author:
Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.
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That’s how I spot her.
There’s no doubt that it’s her; I’ve memorized her face.
Leaning against a wall on the opposite side, her lips wrapped around a clear bottle filled with clear liquor, her fiery red hair a wild mane against the stark white wall, a tight black T-shirt showing off toned arms. She’s in no rush to part with that bottle, guzzling back a good portion before she hands it off to someone, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
Her eyes at half-mast.
My heart starts racing. What the hell is Kacey Cleary doing here? By my calculation, she’s probably finishing her last year of high school, having lost at least half a year while recovering.
I tug my cap down even farther, though I doubt she can see two feet in front of her.
Shit. What if she does recognize me? How would she react? Does she know my real name? What I look like? I can’t say for sure that my face wasn’t printed in a newspaper somewhere. She could have Googled my name and found a dozen game shots with me in them. I have my helmet on in most of them, but you can find a profile picture of me easily enough if you’re looking.
I don’t know that she was, though. I wonder if Kacey Cleary gives a fuck about anything anymore. Her Facebook account is inactive. She hasn’t posted a single word and the well-wishes have dwindled, as everyone moves on.
I do know that she shouldn’t be at a party in this state. I’ve heard of bad things happening when girls get that drunk. Especially when they don’t care.
But what do I do?
A blonde stumbles into my chest with two beers in hand. “Hey, do you go here? What’s your name?” She’s tipping her head back way farther than necessary to look up at me, telling me she’s trying to flirt but is too drunk to do it right.
I smile down at her anyway. She’s a good cover. I can stand right here and watch Kacey. “I’m Trent, and I used to go here.”
“Really? When’d you graduate?”
From the corner of my eye, I see Kacey shift from the wall and begin climbing the stairs, her arm hooked around the railing to help her. Two guys following her.