“You make me want to go skinny dipping at midnight, and dance in the rain, and wish on falling stars, and believe in a life so exhilarating, so liberating, that it feels almost tangible…And while it’s the greatest feeling in the world, it’s also the most terrifying…”

The Thorns Remain by Jennifer Hartman and Chelley St Clair is a mammoth tale of a broken heart spurred on to wreck vengeance, with pain and torment the motivating cheerleaders. An emotional slow build read that examines human behaviour after the heart shatters and life takes an unexpected turn. When you lose the love of your life along with almost everything you thought you had what do you do? Well, in Evan’s case, you demolish the man who interrupted your happiness and tore your future to pieces. And you do so, despite the casualties of the emotional war you’ve waged.

Regret. It’s a toxic word. It can tear a person up, twist them inside out, and break them into so many scattered pieces, they may never be whole again. It’s a dangerous sentiment because there’s no cure for regret. No one can go back in time and change their actions, or erase their hurtful words, or alter their past into something…better. Regret can eat us alive if we let it.’

We always find nuggets of wonderful subliminal messages peppered through Jennifer Hartmann’s stories and once again this was the case in The Thorns Remain. Being consumed by anger from intense pain and betrayal can make the kindest most caring person crack even more than the shattered heart left on the ground. How you act upon that and the consequences from there can be harmful, counterproductive or have you live with even more regret. Love can be the best feeling in the world, bringing you joy, peace, and comfort. But love can also be destructive, drive you to depths of despair, and leave you gasping for breath.

‘I don’t think Josie deserves what I’ve pulled her into…I really don’t. But this isn’t about what she deserves. This is about what I deserve.’

The Thorns Remain was a hard read, it was an eyeopener, it was heart-wrenching, and it was passionate in every emotion it elicited in us. Incredibly well-written, it had everything you’d want out of a love story based on hate, revenge, and fierce anger. It felt massive and all-encompassing in its intensity and scheming ferocity.

‘When you look tragedy in the face, real tragedy – the kind of tragedy you likely won’t recover from – every other wrongdoing and heartbreak you’ve experienced feels like a day at the fucking beach. So much perspective comes into play. I almost lost everything, my whole damn heart. It’s eye-opening and soul cleansing, and it’s that feeling of not wanting to take a single thing for granted ever again.’

What began as a path of retribution turned into something entirely different. Love comes in so many guises and whilst the path can be lonely and the target clear, those around you will inevitably become drawn into your game of vengeance.

“You gave me a light when my world had gone dark. And I’m so fucking sorry I stole your light, and I pray you get it back, but I couldn’t walk out of your life without you knowing the impact you had on mine.”

‘I’ll wait forever, Josie Bennett.‘

The writing from these two Authors was sublime, slowly building and drawing us in, until we were thoroughly caught in an intricate web of lies and deception, which in the right light shimmered with love, passion, soul-searching, forgiveness, and understanding. How can revenge result in love? Well, Evan and Josie’s path to love was so unpredictable it had us compelled. It was dark, raw, angsty, and incredibly beautiful at times in its malice. Jennifer Hartmann and Chelley St Clair had us hating and loving Evan in equal measure. We cried for him and everything he went through, yet we despised him at times too. His POV was one of the most intense and well-written passionate and emotional male POV’s we’ve read in a while. It struck us straight in the heart. As for Josie, her plight, her journey, and her soul-searching were captivating and as for her capacity to love, it was truly beautiful.

‘We are responsible for our own happiness. We need to fight for the things that bring us peace. And that’s exactly what we did.’

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