FIVE STARS (Shining Brightly)

Reviewed by Donna Elsegood for Kindle Friends Forever

First and foremost, I was honoured to be asked to review this book as I had reviewed Ellie’s début and enjoyed the story and the style of writing. Ellie has a way of grabbing your attention in such a way that you cannot put the book down.

Fragment! Where do I start? I was not sure how this story was going to evolve which was kind of exciting; like a surprise! The story starts off with Campbell Stevens and her friend Lexi who go on Spring break together to Mexico. Campbell is hard working and wants to have the best future possible after all her personal life which hasn’t been that great, and she wants to change that. Lexi is a good friend to Campbell but is pretty selfish at times or just doesn’t think.

Something happens to Campbell in Mexico which dramatically changes her life forever. She is totally fragmented. It is at this point my heart breaks for her cue to my first set of tears. Five years later Campbell has moved to Chicago from Jacksonville where she’d lived with her room-mate Claire who is worlds apart from Lexi. Campbell was a bright student and has settled into doing bar work. She keeps herself very guarded and doesn’t do relationships, just meaningless sex. Campbell is not prepared to let anybody into her heart as she has boundaries from all the fragments of her ordeal back in Mexico. The only person she ever trusted with the story of what happened is Claire.

Lexi has no idea what happened. Campbell never told her and when Lexi contacts her to say she is visiting, Campbell is not that ecstatic about it but Claire promises to help get her through it. Campbell is at her favourite coffee shop and when she comes out, she spots the most handsome man and he notices her too.

The handsome man is Deacon Montgomery who happens to be a fire-fighter and introduces us to the next set of characters in the shape of his work, colleagues and friends. Deacon is very much single but loves his job and comes from a loving family. The fire-fighters happen to end up in the bar where Campbell works and he can’t keep her eyes off of her which makes Campbell uncomfortable. Lexi and Claire arrive into the bar and Lexi goes into her normal flirt mode with one of Deacon’s colleagues.

Deacon has a BBQ get together every Sunday with colleagues and family. Lexi is having a fling with Boss and they all get invited to the party. Deacon is desperate to take Campbell out but she won’t give in. That’s where he places a bet with her to play a board game and if he wins, she has to go on a date. Low and behold he wins and she goes on a date with him! Campbell enjoys herself. They embark on a friendship of sorts and he begins to realise that something happened to her. He wants to breakthrough through that. Will he be able to? He is falling for her in a big way and is Campbell falling for him? She’s petrified of her feelings due to her horrific memory of her past.

Things come to a head to the point where Campbell is afraid and tries to push Deacon away and ends up blurting out what happened to her five years ago. Ellie really told a very heart breaking story here. There is a section in the book where I cried solidly for one hour. The way it is written makes you feel all the emotions that they go through. I was really deeply touched but I must admit I asked questions like; “Why didn’t she deal with her ordeal the way it should have been dealt with?” I think what Ellie was trying to convey in this story is when something so bad happens, how do you deal with it? How you overcome it, and how it moulds the rest of your life.

Campbell and Deacon make a wonderful couple and have a lot of hurdles to jump. You’ll have to one-click to see if they get their HEA! Thank you Ellie! I would imagine this was a very tough subject matter to write about and quite emotionally draining. Another fabulous job done. If I could give more than five stars I would.