Book Review: Promise Me This by Christina Lee (Giveaway!)

While Promise Me This is the fourth book in the Between Breaths series, each novel can be read as a standalone. So, I have something that I must confess...*whispers* This is actually my first time reading a book by Christina Lee. *runs hands down face* I know, I know! Why did it take me so long?! Well, I've had this New Adult series on my TBR list for awhile, but for some reason, it was this book that finally kicked my butt into gear! This one just called out to me! 

Check out my review for sweet, sexy, and heartfelt Promise Me This! :)

Between Breaths, #4
A new love will test the boundaries of passion between a privileged boy next door and the tattooed, blue-haired girl who helps him embrace his wild side...

Nate has developed quite a playboy reputation around campus. It's not that he doesn't respect or trust women; he doesn't trust himself. The men in Nate’s family are prone to abusive behavior—a dirty secret that Nate’s been running from his entire life—so Nate doesn't do relationships. But he can’t help himself around one girl...

Jessie is strong, independent, and works at a tattoo parlor. Nate can’t resist getting close to her, even if it’s strictly a friendship. But it doesn't take long for Nate to admit that what he wants with Jessie is more than just friendly.

With Jessie, he can be himself and explore what he’s always felt was a terrifying darkness inside him. Even when Nate begins to crave her in a way that both shocks and horrifies him, Jessie still wants to know every part of him. Testing their boundaries together will take a trust that could render them inseparable... or tear them apart.

Jessie Walters is working her way towards a degree in studio art, focusing on photography. She's independent, with a kind and intuitive spirit. Yet, this tattooed and blue-haired girl finds herself drawn to a guy she didn't think was really her type: Nate Connors. Muscular, has playboy-worthy charms, comes from an affluent and seemingly strait-laced family. Nate, however, also harbors a painful secret and a world of turmoil inside him. His mother has suffered at the brutal hands of his father for years, and he's afraid that abusive nature will poison his and his brother's lives, turning them into the same kind of monster. It's why he never fully gives in to--or even fully understands--his dominant tendencies and desires in the bedroom. He fears he'll blur the line between pleasure and violence. So instead, he keeps his distance with no-strings, emotionally detached hookups. Until Jessie is the one friend, the one girl, who finally gets close enough to change everything...
"Otherwise, you're just a regular boy next door."
"I wouldn't call me regular, sweetheart."
The book opens with a fun scene at a bar with most of the series characters. Even without reading the previous books, I loved the easy familiarity that Lee was able to establish right off the bat. Falling into a groove with the whole group was practically effortless. (A round of Never Have I Ever definitely helped... *wiggles eyebrows*) With Nate and Jessie in particular, I immediately liked the rapport. The playful banter...How she calls him "Square" and he calls her "Blue"...It's totally a friendship with potential for more! Aaand boy was there more to come!

After bouncing some ideas off of her friends for a photo exhibit, Jessie finally decides on bridges as her subject and asks Nate (an engineering major!) to show her around Bridgeway, the "city of bridges." It also happens to be where he grew up. This road trip, and the weekend they spend together, is one they'll never forget! *claps hands excitedly*

They reveal some personal things to each other during their time in Bridgeway, getting to know a more meaningful side to the other. But also...Nate and Jessie just had that kind of sizzling tension that made me swear there was actual steam coming out of my Kindle with every page turn! The maybe-we-should-maybe-we-shouldn't-but-we-want-to dilemma! The anticipation! It made the moments when Nate and Jessie gave in, abandoned all restraint, so good! It felt electric, thrilling, the best kind of frenzied that makes your toes curl!
I tried to control my breaths while reveling in her expert touch. "I want you to let loose with me," she said and then gripped me more firmly, making me gasp. "I like it."
When I wasn't hoping they'd tear their clothes off of each other, though...*wolfish grin*...I liked how natural and easygoing they were together. There was genuine companionship and not just lust. There were these moments with Jessie--holding Nate, embracing him-- that were such gentle gestures, yet so powerful. After they returned home, I could tell when Nate began to see past his sexual fantasies and really started to feel more for Jessie. Jessie is incredibly supportive and perceptive, but never pries too far. There's something so strong, yet soft and comforting about her.
I had this impression that he was standing on the edge of a crevice and considering whether to open himself up--show himself to me. It was as if he just didn't know how, or even whether he should.

Something about that made me want to be the one to push him over the brink.
These were all of the things that Nate desperately needed, in order to figure himself out and to seek help about his family. The major conflict in this story had more to do with Nate's demons than any issues with Jessie, and I actually liked that this was the kind of book without any dramatic antics between the couple. No fights or lashing out. They clearly cared about each other. It was more about Jessie reaching through to Nate.
I never held a girl's hand before, besides my high school girlfriend's, and certainly never paid attention to how it felt. Holding Jessie's hand made it seem like I had someone in my corner, someone to lean on, someone who got me.
Abuse and the painful effects it can have on everyone were the real standout conflicts. The fluid pace of this story allowed for those messages to be heard loud and clear, not rushed...what Nate and his brother went through as kids, what his mom endured for years, and how it still affected Nate and his brother as adults.

Ladies, we've all got alpha males in our collection of book boyfriends, right? But this one? Nate starts out disgusted with his alpha side. Terrified of following in his father's footsteps. I came to understand his fears, his confusion, so watching him let Jessie in was huge. After everyone else tiptoed around his father's ugly secret, some turning a blind eye, I loved that Jessie was asking all the right questions and pushing Nate in just the right direction.
It felt almost like she could see right inside of me. See all of my secrets. All of the ways I was keeping myself locked in a cage. It was like she was offering me the key to let myself out.
But just as things built between Nate and Jessie, a very different kind of tension was building within the Connors family. It boiled over in such a heartbreaking way. That confrontation was one of those temples-throbbing, eyes-stinging kind of scenes! I felt how deeply poignant their situation was. In fact, every scene with Nate and his mom gutted me! It made me want to call my mom and tell her to come over just so I could hug her, tell her I love her, thank her for everything she's ever put up with. *oh, the feels* And Nate?! I can applaud a character like Nate for trying to do the right thing, for being protective of and standing up for his loved ones. My heart felt heavy for all that they endured--how much longer it could've continued--but ultimately hopeful that each of them could move forward.
"Give it all to me," she murmured in my ear. "The wild and the sweet, the light and the dark. Because I need them both. They make up who you are. And that's the Nate I want to belong to."
I loved how the ending tied everything together! Jessie's final exhibit...Nate's progress...the realization that they've found something special with each other. This was such a heartfelt story about healing and acceptance. Two people, who seemed so different, bonded and fell in love in such a touching way.

I'm definitely going back and reading the rest of this series! Promise Me This was amazing and turned me into a big Christina Lee fan!




Mother, wife, reader, dreamer. Christina lives in the Midwest with her husband and son--her two favorite guys. She's addicted to lip gloss, salted caramel everything, and believes in true love and kissing, so writing romance novels has become a dream job.

***ARC provided in exchange for honest review***