★★★★ 3.5+ stars!
Mags McManus has just become a war widow in her mid-twenties. Her late husband, Randy, left for the Army right after their wedding. Instead of celebrating his homecoming and living in marital bliss with her soulmate, Mags finds herself living in constant agony. Dealing with the guilt of still living without Randy, are Randy's best friends and parents.
Rising from the ashes of this tragedy, Mags starts to learn how to love and trust again, finally being able to find happiness. But sometimes things really are too good to be true and again Mags learns how cruel the world can be as she crashes back down.
Crashing Back Down is the story of Mags McManus, a twenty-four-year old woman and recently turned war widow. Her late husband died a little less than a year ago and she still finds it hard to adjust to life without him by her side. Slowly but surely, she's learning how to cope with her loss. A huge part of her recovery is the support and company of Walker, her husband's best friend and colleague. He too, is still struggling with the loss of his friend and the guilt he feels of not being able to save him.
The more time they spent together, the closer they become and the more they help each other heal and move forward with their lives. Still, as their friendship starts to develop into something more, Mags is afraid of opening herself up. She feels like she's still betraying her former marriage and the guilt she feels makes it had for her to truly be happy.
Something that did bother me while reading this story was how often the characters went out drinking and woke up the next day with "the worst hangover they ever had". It was like all they ever did for fun was go out and drink shots, as though they were newly in college. SInce they're in their mid-twenties I would expect them to be a little more mature or at least come up with anything else to do besides going to their favorite bar and ending up hammered. Other than that, I quite liked the main characters and their development throughout the story.
Walker was a typical man-whore with a softer side and a tortured past. I really felt for him and what he went through towards the end of the story and I was NOT expecting the revelations he made during the final few chapters. I completely understood Mags reaction to them but at the same time I often found it a bit hard to connect with her character. Perhaps the fact that she often changed her mind and her unpredictability made it harder for me to sympathize with her. I do liked the two of them together and the chemistry they had though (view spoiler)[ that's why I'm still rooting for them to get their HEA in book two! (hide spoiler)].
"Just be honest with me, Mags, from here on out. Feel free to scream, whisper, and everything in between, I want to hear it all."
I have to warn you though, the story ends with a huge cliffhanger. The last 10% of the story managed to completely take me off guard. I thought it was going to be just another sweet, simple friends to lovers story but the final few chapters sure caught me off guard with the emotional revelations in them. They made the story much more interesting and they made me very anxious to get my hands on the sequel. Overall, I really enjoyed this author's debut novel and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work in the future!
**ARC courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review**