Thrive by Aly Martinez
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Series: Guardian Protection #2 (standalone)
Published on: January 11, 2018
POV: Dual First Point of View
Rating: 4.5 STARS
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Thrive is a heart-breaking, emotional, second-chance romance written beautifully by Aly Martinez, the author who has become one of my top favorites after devouring and falling in love with the Darkest Sunrise duet. Thrive is the second book in The Guardian Protection series. While it is highly advised that readers should start the first book before diving into this book, Thrive works as a standalone.
Seventeen years ago, the nineteen-year-old Mira York met the twenty-three-year-old Jeremy Lark. Their once innocent friendship then grew to be an intense and intimate one over six months. Their teenage love should have been perfect if not because of the fact that Mira had already had a boyfriend, Kurt Benton, who was also Jeremy’s best friend. Mira’s not-so-perfect relationship with Kurt forced her to spend more time with Jeremy.
Growing up from a humble family had made her dreaming of a better life for herself. However, after meeting Jeremy, she started longing for more than material stuff; the one she knew deep down was absent from her relationship with Kurt. But fears and doubts clouded her mind and when forced to choose, her young and inexperienced self, unfortunately, reacted poorly which caused her lose the boy she truly loved.
Seventeen years later, after serial, big life changes, she finds herself in a big mess where her past cost her best friend and her dog kidnapped. Feeling hopeless and having no one to turn to for help, she makes a call she thought she would never do and ask the man, she has stayed away for seventeen years, a big favor. To her surprise, he comes and is willing to help.
Thrive broke my heart, put me on an emotional rollercoaster, and healed it at the end. Mira and Jeremy’s love story was a heartbreaking and epic story from the beginning to the end. My heart broke for the time they lost due to the misunderstanding, for the years they’d had to live without each other, for the heartbreak and hardships they’d had to endure, and for the many what-ifs that had tortured them for seventeen years which resulted in them unable to move on.
“You have no fucking idea the wasteland you left inside me when you chose him. My whole fucking life, I convinced myself I hated you. But you were always there, baby. Under my skin. In my head. In my veins. Refusing to let me go… Even after you actually…fucking…let me…go.”
However, I was showered with a great understanding of their unfortunate separation considering their life backgrounds as well as their young age. Although it didn’t make it any easier for me to witness it, I understood why it happened that way and was ecstatic when—after a good fight and remarkable effort from both parties—they were finally able to work things out. It was both beautiful and heartwarming to experience. Aly Martinez, hands down, delivered one of the best second chance romance I have ever read.
“I did love you. Jesus, Mira. I’ve always loved you. You’ve been back in my life three fucking days now. We’re goddamn strangers. I am not positive I’ll even like you two weeks from now. But I know with every fiber of my being that I love you, Mira York. Because it never died. Not for me.”
One thing that bothered me, unfortunately, was the fact they both easily gave up on each other in the beginning. As I said above, I did understand the reasons behind it; however, given how deep their feelings back then for each other, I wish I could have seen great fights from them throughout the years (instead of easily giving up) considering seventeen years was not a short time. There was plenty of time for each of them to make great, on-going efforts in my opinion, since having such a strong feeling towards someone without any efforts to do something about it for such a long period of time didn’t sit well with me.
However, aside from it, the romance was spectacular. The emotions that the characters experienced—doubts, fears, hopelessness, happiness, worries—had me deeply connected with them individually and as a couple. Their romance was explosive yet passionate, and while it could be considered too fast, the time they had lost, their intense, emotional, and heart-to-heart conversations about the past, and the danger they were both currently facing, had me understand and eventually root for their happiness.
“Because it’s not always going to be this easy, baby. No matter how much we say the past is in the past, there are going to be times when resentment claws its way through our flames. And it’s going to take both of us, together, working as a team to fight that back.”
Thrive was one of the very few books that managed to make me repeatedly read certain parts. Thanks to the uncountable, memorable moments throughout the story. The writing was exquisite, captivating, and addictive which rendered me speechless at times and made me an emotional mess. Aly Martinez did deliver an outstanding romance. Had it not been because of the issue I mentioned above, this story could have easily become my TOP second chance romance.
“I’m committing to do that with you, Mira. I’m committing to fight harder than I’ve ever fought for anything in my life. Because we’re fucking worth it.”
I did love the main characters. Not only were they believable, their characters’ developments were fantastic as well. I fell in love with Jeremy’s character—the way he loved Mira and, God, he did love her fiercely and how passionate he was when she was concerned. While still having a short-temper, he had grown to be a responsible, mature guy who had a great control over his reactions and emotions by not letting his temper overpower his rational thinking when being provoked.
It was a miracle my heart was still beating. That was my man: bossy, demanding, and still breathtakingly romantic at the same time.
In addition, Mira showed a tremendous growth as well. Despite still being soft and sensitive on the inside as she had been as a teenager, it was precious to watch how independent, selfless, fierce, and goal-oriented she had become, which showed in the way she made her current choices. On top of them, I loved that the hardships and fails in life did not make her lose her heart and broke her spirit entirely. They made her stronger, in fact.
“I choose us. Now and forever. I swear to you I’ll always, for the rest of my life, choose us.”
Moreover, the supporting characters were amazing. The humor, banter, affection, and loyalty that the alpha Guardian Protection men showed to one another added special touches and such a great balance to the overall emotional story. It said the same to Mira and her best friend’s friendship. All these well-crafted side characters left their imprints on my memory and had me hope to have a chance of reading their own stories soon.
I hope the love triangle, in the beginning of the story, does not prevent anyone from giving this book a chance. Although, to be honest, it wasn’t pleasant and hard to swallow, there was a strong, convincing reason behind it. The ending was amazing; it was worth given a chance.
Overall, the characters’ growth, the plot, the turns and twists, the suspense, and, most importantly, the amazing second-chance romance made Thrive by Aly Martinez a multi-layered, compelling, and unputdownable book that I highly recommend to all romance readers no matter what kind of book you’re currently in the mood for. It is a must-read.
Thank you to the publisher for giving me this review copy for my unbiased review.