3.5 starsI'm having a really hard time rating this book.On one hand, it was an engaging, thought provoking and heart wrenching read. On the other hand, it was not at all what I signed up for.I thought I was getting romance with a bit of a traumatic past thrown in. What I got was a metric ton of trauma with a tiny bit of romance. The cover didn't help with that, either. I know, I know...don't judge a book and all that. But seriously - you see a cover like that, all bright and white and fresh and you certainly don't think about things like dark pasts and secrets and trauma.Let me start by saying that this is not for the faint of heart. I do not have a traumatic past, and this was overwhelmingly uncomfortable for me to read in many, many spots. If you have triggers (rape, molestation, or incest), I would highly suggest you skip this book.That said, I did enjoy the book. This was the first book I'd read from Maher, and I don't think it will be the last. Subject matter aside, she has a beautiful way of weaving her words together that was like a breath of fresh air. It wasn't overly flowery or poetic, but it was definitely her. Her voice, her style shone through.Besides the fact that I thought I was getting a romance and this turned out rather to be a story about Sarah's journey to forgiveness (both in herself and in those who hurt her), I was disappointed in the small romance we did get. Don't get me wrong, the scenes were intense and memorable, but unfortunately, so much time was spent on Sarah's issues that the love between Joe and Sarah seemed forced and awkward. When the ILYs came out, I was shocked, quite frankly, because I didn't feel it. I think this is a time when a book could have benefited from another even five-thousand words. We needed more of them as a couple to buy into their blossoming relationship, and their (apparent) love.All in all, it was a memorable book, and one that will stick with me for a while. However, if you're looking for a romance to read--whether dealing with dark themes or not--this isn't it.