Monday, April 30, 2018

Review: When Stars Burn Out - Carrie Aarons

When Stars Burn Out
by Carrie Aarons
Published: April 21, 2018
Genre: Second Chance, Contemporary Romance

Stars die in one of two ways.

So slowly that each layer burning out feels like agony … or suddenly, exploding into a million pieces before the universe even has a grasp of what is happening.

When Paxton Shaw left Demi Rosen without so much as a goodbye, he stole her shine in both manners.

Now, eight years later, he’s trying to pull her back into his orbit. The nation’s most beloved football player, a tight end with a seriously tight end, has finally realized Demi is the one who got away.

But she’s a different woman than the weak girl who used to come running whenever he called in the middle of the night. Strong, successful, her life’s mission being to grant the wishes of children whose flames have all but been extinguished.

And untouchable, as dark and cold as a midnight sky with no moon in sight.

When one special child forces their star-crossed paths to collide, it’s impossible to keep the feelings of their past buried. Paxton had been her Halley’s Comet; the once in a lifetime love that scorched Demi’s heart in the most spectacular of fashions.

She promised herself she would never make that mistake again. But, how can she forget the dreams of love she once had, when Paxton wants to make them come true?

5 Stars

You know that scene in Elf where Buddy is yelling out, "I'm in love. I'm in love, and I don't care who knows it!"? That's me right now. Carrie Aarons has given us a beautiful second chance romance with When Stars Burn Out. Romantic, sweet, and sexy, Demi and Paxton's relationship is the sort that girl's dreams are made of, except for the part where it started in college and Paxton was a total jerk. I'd love to say that part never happened, as I am all about this relationship they have as adults, but I also really appreciate the realistic way it helped them grow together. Told from Pax and Demi's alternating perspectives, When Stars Burn Out is easily one of the sweetest, most romantic novels I've read this year. We're treated to flashbacks of their college days filled with lust and desperation, we feel the pain, heartbreak, and losses with them as they grow older and life happens, and we too become protective, alongside Demi's friends, as Pax tries to score one final touchdown with the girl who got away.

"And I was never going to allow myself to be hurt again."

Demi is the perfect blend of strong and sweet, as a character we root for her to find love and passion, as a woman we stand behind her as she defends her hurt heart and strives for independence. I really appreciated that Carrie Aarons wrote her as a blend of the woman she once was, the woman she is now, and the women she surrounds herself with. Talk about realistic! Her friends genuinely seem to care for her, they weigh in on the hard decisions, and they uplift her when she needs it, which actually makes her an even better character in my eyes. I always struggle when a character doesn't surround themselves with good people, that's how you end up with the overbearing dude, hello! Paxton, oh Paxton, he's a tough cookie. We don't like what he's done to Demi, but man that boy has some serious character growth in the novel. He realizes what he really wants is more than the fame game, that his parent's dreams for him really are his own dreams, and that the girl he once left in the dust is really the girl who can make his wishes come true. I loved his natural, automatic reaction to Demi being lust, soon turning into a desperate desire to woo her with his more-than-football knowledge company and his ability to buy gorgeous flowers. He pulls out all the stops and there is no way for Demi, or us readers, to protect our heart from the handsome man.

"He's a man now, so different than the boy I once knew, but still so much the same."

These two, the stars are meant to align for them, even if their past is filled with hushed words, secret rendezvous, and a crack in Demi's heart that could never be healed, except maybe by the man who put it there. I so appreciated how realistic the story was and how Carrie Aarons highlighted that neither Demi or Pax had really gone about things the right way in the beginning. The new relationship, the do-over, it's magical, but it's made more magical by the hard past they shared and learned to overcome. Yes, the book is so sweet, but it also has the angsty hard stuff that makes it authentic. I swooned right alongside Demi, especially as Pax revealed how in awe of her he was and how he spent so much time making sure things were completely opposite of how they once were...okay, everywhere except in the bedroom. ;) Parts of my couldn't believe Demi gave the man a second chance, but Pax changed my mind and hers and I'm so glad he did.

"I was serious about Demi, so serious that nothing was a consequence."

I love a good romance, I love second chance, and I love everything written by Carrie Aarons, and usually I'm not one to pick favorites, but Pax and Demi are my favorite. Their romance is so perfect, bumps along the way and all. I fell head over heels in love with their story and it definitely deserves more than 5 stars. If you're looking for a romantic, swoony read, When Stars Burn Out is a must read.

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