Author: Mila Gray
Series? Yes, the third book in a trilogy of companion novels
Publication Date: November 28, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Source: I received a copy of Run Away with Me via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own!
Emerson Lowe and popular ice-hockey player Jake McCallister have been best friends since third grade but just as their friendship starts to morph into something more, a terrible event occurs that heralds the end of innocence for both of them. Within a week, Jake’s living on the other side of the country and Emerson is left alone to pick up the pieces of her life in a small town determined to paint her as a liar.
Seven years on and Emerson is still living on the beautiful Pacific West island of Bainbridge, helping her family run their outdoor adventure company. The last thing she needs is Jake turning up, bringing with him old memories and opening up old wounds. But Jake—even better looking than Emerson remembered and on the cusp of a bright sporting future—seems determined to revive their friendship no matter how much Emerson tries to push him away and soon they’re in the midst of a passionate summer romance that neither of them wants to end.
But if they’re to have any kind of future, they’re first going to need to confront the past, a past that most people want to stay buried.
Right after I was auto-approved for Simon & Schuster on Netgalley, I went over and downloaded this book, and I am so happy I did. A year or two ago I read the first book in this series, Come Back to Me, and loved it. I thought the characters were so fleshed out, and that the romance was really authentic. Little did I know that all my expectations would be blown out of the water with Run Away with Me.
Every character in this novel, especially Emerson and Jake, have such a rich backstory. There histories are complex and messy, and Gray did a fantastic job of weaving their past and present together. Jake and Emerson haven't seen each other in seven years, and Emerson isn't quick to forgive Jake for leaving her in a time of need. I loved how each character was developed; the reader sees how fundamental each other's friendship was too each other, a well as the event mentioned in the synopsis. The two main characters didn't immediately fall back in each other's arms, and for very good reason.
What really struck me was how well this book dealt with a certain traumatic event. I won't say what it is, but I will leave a trigger warning at the end of the review. I think Gray handled this spectacularly, and really showed how even when speaking up, some people won't listen to you or won't want to. Gray handled all of this very maturely, and I would say it's the first book in a very long time that presented this event well and (almost) comprehensively. I don't want to say outright what it is, but the book heavily hints at it throughout, and it's not used as a plot twist device, as one might see in Hopeless by Colleen Hoover.
I would say that the pacing of this book is steady the whole entire time. I wouldn't consider it to be fast by any means, but neither is it slow. There are no filler chapters in this book; every page has a reason for being there. I couldn't stop reading Run Away with Me because the romance and plot were compelling. The chapter breaks were also very well done, so even if I said I would stop at a certain chapter, I couldn't. I could tell how well-edited Run Away with Me is; everything has a purpose, and the book is set up to keep the reader reading.
Families also play a big part in this story, it's not solely a book about romance. I really appreciated how we got to see into Emerson's life, and have disability representation. Emerson's father was disabled, and this just struck me because my mom is disabled. This was the first time I could really relate to a family dynamic, and it's because Gray doesn't have any characters that are picture-perfect.
And just a quick note: the romance was hot. Emerson and Jake were so well paired, and their chemistry was off the charts. Their relationship was also very healthy, and Gray did a good job of juxtaposing an unhealthy relationship with a healthy one. Even if Gray doesn't mean to teach young girls about what a healthy relationship is, she does with Emerson and Jake. They have in-depth conversations, they respect each other's boundaries, and their relationship doesn't define them.
At the end of the day, I love this book. It was so compelling, and the traumatic event was handled very well. I haven't read the second book in this series, Stay with Me (also known as This One Moment), but I really want to know. Run Away with Me is an expertly crafted book, and I can tell that Gray really did her research. My only complaint is that there was a lot of drama, and while they all served a purpose, it felt like too much. I just wanted more time where we see Emerson and Jake happy, and not dealing with one thing after another.
With that, I give this book
4.5 out of 5 Stars!