Bryce Humphrey has been living with the guilt from his actions that resulted in a tragedy five years ago. He has never been able to forgive himself for ruining the lives of his best friend Hayden and the girl that they both loved Avery. Hayden and Avery never knew that Bryce loved Avery, and he has had to live with the pain that he caused her all those years ago. Even though he has tried to live his life the best he can, he was never able to forget her or move past the love he felt for her or the pain he caused her. When he runs into Avery after not having seen her for five years, she is nothing like the girl that he remembered. They have both been punishing themselves, and he is determined to help her move forward. At first Avery wants nothing to do with Bryce, but soon she sees the person he is beneath the tough facade he wears. Now that she knows the real Bryce, she can't help but want to help him move forward as well. As they struggle with moving forward and getting past their guilt and pain, they realize that the connection between them is unlike anything that either of them have ever had before. But can they heal and let go of the past with the hope of a future together? Or will too much have happened between them to ever get past together?
Even though we met Bryce in Just Us, we didn't really get to know his character that well. At first he comes off as a tough guy that sleeps around and is kind of a jerk. But Hayden always said there was more to him, and you really get to see that in Just You. He is actually really sweet and caring, and was much deeper than he first lets on. He had admired Avery from afar and had never done anything about his feelings for her. But you could really see just how deep they ran, and that time and distance hadn't lessened them at all. I really liked Bryce, and I felt like he was really good for Avery. Avery had so much pain to deal with after the first book. But despite everything that had happened, she picked herself up and did what she could to fulfil her promises to Hayden. Even though she had worked hard and been successful, she was still struggling and had never moved past what had happened. Bryce helped her to see that she wasn't really living and that she needed to let go of the past once and for all. They were exactly what each other needed, and no one else understood what the two of them had been through. Their connection was so much stronger because of the pain that they had shared, and they just worked well together. They had great chemistry, and I really felt like their relationship was so real.
Overall, I really liked how things ended up for Avery and Bryce. They were able to not forget about the past but begin to move towards their future and stop punishing themselves for things that were out of their control. I liked both of their characters a lot, and I felt like you could really see the evolution of each one as an individual but also them as they transitioned to being a couple. I will say that I was glad to see Hayden's parents and their changed attitude towards Avery, but then they ruined all the progress they had made for me with their attitude towards Bryce. I understand what they were dealing with and I partially get what they were saying, but honestly it really saddened me that they continued to respond like they did. I really liked this book though, and I am glad that Avery and Bryce were finally moving towards happiness and acceptance. While Avery and Hayden had a love that was real and true, it was a childish love. You never forget your first love, but it was good to see Avery realize that it was different from what she was experiencing with Bryce. With Bryce she found an adult love. It was real and raw, and so much more than the innocent and sweet first love she had with Hayden. I would definitely recommend this series, especially if you have never read anything by Riley J. Ford before. After reading this series, I can't wait to get more from her in the future.
**Review Copy Provided by Literati Author Services**
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