Overall Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩/5
Spice Level: 🌶🌶🌶.5/5
*TW: Kidnapping, sexual assault, suicide, self harm*
A Quick Summary…
After having no choice but to call her future brother-in-law and childhood enemy for a ride home in the middle of the night, Cora never expects the drive to take a terrifying turn. Suddenly Dean and Cora become the latest victims of a deranged serial killer and must rely on each other to survive. Little do they know the bond they will form and how their lives will be forever changed by what they experienced 🖤. This is a dark adult contemporary romance that is profound, beautiful, and heart-wrenching 🥺 .
*possible spoilers ahead*
First let us say that this book is DARK so if you are not in the mood for an extremely emotional read or are new to dark contemporary romance, we would recommend not starting with this book (18+ for sure so proceed with caution ⚠️). Second, we want to preface this by saying that this book does have a HEA although the characters go through hell and back to get to it. With that being said, we absolutely loved this read and our minds were blown multiple times while reading 🤯. Jennifer really captured our hearts with Still Beating, we were on the edge of our seats to see where the story went and almost threw our kindles multiple times 😤. The emotional ups and downs that you will go through while reading this are REAL so be prepared, but it is definitely worth it.
The character development is what makes the book exceptional in our opinion 😩. It was really fascinating to see how both Dean and Cora coped with the same trauma differently. In other words, these two characters experienced the same situation but their journey to healing was vastly different. While they started off being dependent on each other because of the tie they shared, Dean and Cora ultimately had to learn how to heal independently before finding each other again. Cora’s journey especially was incredibly profound because she learned how to love herself before she could give that to someone else 💘. We thought this was incredibly mature and made the whole story fully formed. Another message that we found really powerful was seeing the characters being able to get to a place where they could appreciate the smallest moments in life and smile simply because they had reason to 😊.
Still Beating is structured very differently from other contemporary romances that we’ve read. The big event happens in the first part of the book, and the rest is how the characters deal with that event. We really liked this structure, as it’s usually the other way around where the big event happens before the events of the book or at the final part. We also liked how it was structured into different parts and POVs (it’s always a plus when we get to see both sides of the story 👌). Although it is an incredibly dark book, Jennifer did add some humor here and there which was much needed and took the edge off 😌.
Overall Still Beating has become one of our favorite dark contemporary novels, we were feeling all the feelings with this one. If you’re looking for an emotional and character driven read that is both dark and beautiful this is the book for you ✨!
Similar Books: Lotus by Jennifer Hartmann, The Mindf*ck Series by S.T. Abby
“We’ll never be friends. We’re no longer enemies. We can’t be lovers. Where does that leave us?”
“We’re both still alive, and as long as we’re alive, there is hope.”
“She doesn’t need to pretend with me, though. She doesn’t need to hide. I’m here, and I see her - every scar, every flaw, every broken, hollow piece. And I understand.”
“We’re messy, damaged humans clinging to each other as we battle through the storm together, but it’s okay because we’re together.”
“It’s funny how home can mean one thing one day and something entirely different the next. I think that’s because home isn’t a place - it’s a feeling.”
“Is this the point in our friendship where you come to me with a terrible dilemma and I’m supposed to offer you super sage wisdom and give you all the answers?”
“You can’t tiptoe around your heart in fear of pissing people off or hurting their feelings. Sometimes we need to be a little selfish in order to avoid a life of complacency.”
“His heartbeat is all I need.”
“How many books are you bringing?”
“It’s a series, Dean.”