Read my reviews of the previous books in the Pretty Broken series:
The final book in this excellent rock star romance series, which also serves as the second half of an internal duology with the previous book, Pretty F*ed, drops readers right back into the heavy topics without any preparatory buildup. At this point, I knew what I was getting into, but I was so invested in each of the characters that I wanted to skip the pain and get right to their happily ever after. Alas, the journey through the painful bits is where Gray shines for both character development and the relationship arc.
Caspian genuinely cares for Iris, but their upbringings were so different that there’s always going to be a level where Caspian just can’t relate. Childhood trauma can literally alter brain chemistry, and Gray makes multiple connections with how complications with mental health care can negatively affect a person even when done with the best intentions (or the worst, in the case of band manager Alexander’s long-term efforts to control Iris).
The multiple timelines of this story mean getting hit with the duality of the past heartache that has occurred between Caspian and Iris along with the dread of what this book’s dark moment might be. Along the way, the story goes full circle, so that we get a better look at what was going on in the background of the first book in the series, Pretty Obsessed. This made the series into a cohesive whole and truly brought the members of Pretty Broken (and their significant others) into a true found family as part of the overall optimistic ending.
This novel specifically was a true second-chance romance that actually deals with the issues that caused the initial separation. The forced proximity of being bandmates meant that Iris and Caspian were never able to start from a fresh point in their lives. The way they continued to gravitate toward each other even when technically not together is romantic in the most painful way possible. Gray deftly weaves the theme that “love doesn’t conquer all” into this relationship arc while still keeping alive the hope inherent in a romance story so that it can fuel Iris and Caspian’s fight for their eventual resolution.
After what the villain of this series put these men (who I would mostly consider “boys” at the point when Alexander first got his hooks into them), I felt like he deserved much more of a punishment. I’m satisfied with what did happen, and while this arc was a connective thread to many of the external and internal conflicts throughout this series, I appreciated that the true focus remained on the members of Pretty Broken instead of letting them continue to give Alexander more mental real estate than he deserved.
I look forward to returning to these books in the future and re-reading it with a deeper knowledge of the characters and events to come. Gray’s talent as a storyteller means that I am sure to uncover more layers to these individually good novels and collectively fantastic series.