I actually read the second book in this series (A Song for Julia) first, not realizing that it was part of a series. And I absolutely LOVED it, you can read my review here. And to be honest, I'm glad that I read it first, because it gives a little bit of backstory to this one. It's a little hard to review this one because my thoughts are a little entangled with A Song for Julia.
The biggest reason for that is that this book comes before A Song for Julia sequentially, but takes place after it. This confused me for a little bit because I remembered that Alex was Julia's younger sister, and I remember the girls' relationships with their parents, but it was all "off" in this book, and once I realized that this was years later, it was easier to understand.
OK, but back to this book. I liked both Alex and Dylan's characters. When they meet early into their semester, the fireworks start. It's a little bit the typical "bad boy seduces good girl" except with a twist - Dylan isn't a bad boy. He's had a hard time of life previous to the book's beginning, and would have a tough road ahead of him with all of the after-effects of war. But he's actually a decent guy, and he's trying not to be too down on himself. As the book goes on, it reveals what happened to him in Afghanistan that left him injured and heartbroken.
Both of them at times made me want to smack them, but I loved the way that they both kept on going and trying to do what was right not just for themselves but for the other person. Even though they kept getting it wrong, it was very human and realistic on an emotional level. I adored how Alex was always just so stubborn and wanted to sort through all the feelings and make things right.
I found some parts a little hard to believe, especially when it came to Alex's family and their reactions to certain events - and again, that's only because of the part of the story I got from A Song for Julia. I'm not entirely sure that I would have found it believable anyway, it was a little odd to me. But for the most part, their connection and the writing felt authentic and down-to-earth, not so pretentious and trying to be something it's not like many books in this genre. It was also really nice to read a book that wasn't completely about making out and sex. While there are bits of that, it's not the sole focus of the story. There was more of a deeper, emotional connection being built instead of a purely sexual one.
So, overall, I'd recommend this book and this series to someone who enjoys the New Adult and contemporary romance genres. I can't say which order it would be better to read them in, though. They would both stand alone, honestly, but this one definitely leads into the upcoming book, The Last Hour. And you can bet that I will be reading it, because I have come to love Charles Sheehan-Miles' writing style.