Author: Emma Scott
Release date: February 13, 2018
(Sub)genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy: Amazon US ~ Amazon UK
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The root of all madness is an unbearable truth…
At seventeen, Willow Holloway’s life was torn apart. The happy, driven girl is gone, and she is left wracked by post-traumatic stress her body remembers even if she does not. When her father suddenly uproots the family from their posh penthouse in New York City to the tiny town of Harmony, Indiana, Willow becomes more untethered and lost under the weight of her secret. On a whim, she auditions for a part in the community theater’s production of Hamlet and unexpectedly wins the role of Ophelia—the girl who is undone by madness, and her love of Hamlet…
Isaac Pierce is from the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’ The town bad boy. Girls pine for his attention and guys are in awe of him. That he’s an acting prodigy only adds to his charisma. Isaac utterly disappears into his characters; the stage is the only place he feels safe from his own traumatic home life. He wants nothing more than to escape to Broadway or Hollywood, and leave Harmony behind for good.
No one can play Hamlet but Isaac, and when the director pairs him with Willow in acting class, they clash again and again—neither willing to open their hearts to anyone. But clashing leads to breaking, breaking leads to the spilling of terrible secrets, and soon Isaac and Willow find Shakespeare’s words mirroring their lives. When they are cruelly torn apart, neither know how this play will end—with madness and heartache? Or healing, love, and the discovery of who they are truly meant to be.
In Harmony is a standalone NEW ADULT love story, and is intended for readers 18 and up. PLEASE NOTE, this book contains sensitive material such as physical abuse, and the aftermath of sexual assault (off the page). Reader discretion is advised.
When I pick a new book to read, stories about young people in their late teens are not the first ones I pick. But when Emma Scott announces she’s writing a Young Adult story, of course I can’t say no to it. Yes, Willow and Isaac are young, but sad circumstances made them wise beyond their years. I love the two of them together.
“I felt myself moving closer to him. He looked so strong and brave and unafraid of anything. And I felt so small and tired. I wanted to give up pretending I wasn’t exhausted down to my soul and fall into his arms. Let him hold me up for a little bit.”
Willow is leading a privileged life in New York City; fancy school, busy social life and everything she wants. Until the worst happens, and she completely closes herself off from the world. When her father is relocated for his work to a small town, Willow isn’t happy with it, but the move turns out to be the best thing for her. Not only does she start to feel alive again, but she also meets Isaac, who becomes important to her.
Isaac is the town bad-boy, handsome and popular with the ladies. He doesn’t have an easy life, but on stage he thrives. Not only does he love to play, he’s also very good at it, and it will be his way out. Love and feelings are not in his book, but when he meets Willow and starts to spend time with her, he knows she’s special.
“Her words died away and the fun-and-games mood between us downshifted into something deeper. The moment held, naked and obvious and lying between us, waiting. The time for talk was over.”
In Harmony is a standalone book and tells the story of Willow and Isaac. It’s told from a dual POV, so you know what the two of them are thinking, and why they react a certain way. It starts out as a sweet story, but since this is an Emma Scott book, you keep waiting for the moment everything changes for the worse. And in the case of Willow and Isaac it gets bad. But the bad is followed by the good, and the good in this story makes me very happy.
Willow, Willow, Willow… I felt so sorry for what happened to her. Not only the event itself, but maybe even more the aftermath. The fact she didn’t tell a soul made it so much worse. Isaac is not just the misunderstood bad-guy. He has his own mental scars, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting a better life for himself. Willow and Isaac are a sweet couple, who see past the masks they both wear. My heart broke for this couple, but the ending the author gave them is everything.
“A tempest of pain and regret and three years lost. But beneath that, love. The love was there first. “I’m sorry, too,” I whispered. “I love you. I will never stop loving you.”
“I’m so…not into being with someone right now,” Willow said with a nervous lilt to her words. “Not for a while, anyway.”
I heard a whisper on the breeze, or ever again. A heaviness in her eyes hinted she had lost something and had almost given up trying to find it.
She hasn’t given up, I thought, a fierce admiration welling in me. That’s why she’s doing the play. To find it again.
In that moment, I vowed to try to cut out all the egotistical bullshit and jealousy over Justin. The dance was out of range now anyway. I couldn’t ask her to go even if I wanted to. Which I didn’t. My job was to help her find what she was looking for in Hamlet, however I could. Even as it dented my eagerness to get the hell out of Harmony.
Willow shielded her eyes from the sun and squinted at me. “So what about you?”
“What about me?”
“Do you like anyone?” she asked, her voice a half tone higher than usual. She laughed. “That’s such a high school thing to ask.”
“No,” I said. “If all goes to plan, I’m leaving Harmony, remember? Stupid to start something now.”
“Sure. Makes sense.”
A silence fell.
“Yeah, so I probably won’t go to the dance,” Willow said. “I’m not good in that kind of situation anymore.”
“What kind of situation?”
She shook her head. “Never mind. I should get back.”
Willow started to scoot down off the block. I held my hand out to her to help. She hesitated for a fraction of a second and then took it. I held my other hand out and she took that too. I steadied her as she hopped down and then we were standing face to face. Close enough I could see her pale blue eyes had lighter shards of blue in them, like a topaz. Close enough to smell the sweetness of her breath—coffee tinged with sugar. Close enough to dance if we wanted.
“Thanks,” Willow said, gazing up at me.
“Sure,” I said.
I still held her hands. She didn’t let go.
“So,” she breathed, still not moving.
I glanced down at our hands. I hadn’t touched something this soft and good in ages. The sleeve of her coat bunched up and I spied a black mark on the inside of her forearm, close to her wrist. Willow drew in a breath as I turned her hand over. An X, about the size of a quarter, was stark on her pale skin.
She tugged her hands away. “I really need to get back.”
Every instinct cried out to take her hand again, to ask her what the X meant. To lick my thumb and erase it off her skin. I didn’t know what it meant but the sight of it made my stomach feel heavy.
“I doodle when I’m bored. I told you that.” Her voice was sharp but her smile wobbled. “Let’s go.”
We walked the short distance back to town wordlessly. Back in front of the theater, Willow shouldered her bag and glanced around. “Thanks for today. I think Martin would be happy with our progress.”
“I do too.”
God, would he, I thought.
“So, I guess I’ll see you Monday?” she said.
“You have a ride home?”
“Oh, uh…” She still wouldn’t meet my eyes. “I was thinking of walking.”
“To Emerson Hills?” I said. “That’s a mile and a half and it’s getting dark soon.”
She raised her brows. “I’m not allowed to walk in the dark?”
“You’re allowed,” I said, “but I don’t want you to.”