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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review: Leaving Lily Behind by Christine Wenrick

 Wow, how long has it been since the last Men of Brahm Hill book??? It doesn't matter now because Leaving Lily Behind is FINALLY here!

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Red Tree House Publishing
Release Date: March 2, 2016


Aiden Rowan has made a choice he wishes he could have back. As a human Guardian for The Brethren, he agreed to be part of a former Elder’s super-soldier experiments involving vampire blood transfusions. His reasons for doing so were close to his heart, but the results are costing him his humanity and changing him into the very creature he wanted to defeat—a vampire. Just when he thinks he’s accepted his fate, a woman enters his life with the promise that she can help. From the moment Aiden lays eyes on Lily Abbott he feels lost in a good way—a human way. But can he trust himself now that he’s changing? Refusing to allow the darkness growing inside him to ever hurt her, he chooses to leave Lily with the intention never to return.

Lily has many secrets, and some she must keep from the man she has come to The Oracle to save. What she didn’t expect was to care deeply for Aiden, or be so affected when he refuses her help and leaves abruptly. But when she’s attacked one night by another fellow super soldier, Aiden returns as quickly as he left. Once the two are reunited, the pair have an almost combustible chemistry, leading Aiden to question what brought Lily to The Oracle and into his life in the first place.


Aiden Rowan has always done his duty as a Guardian for The Brethren with pride but his choice to be the guinea pig in a former Elder’s experiments is something he wishes he could take back. The result of the experiment has left him turning into the very creature he wanted to fight: A Vampire. He doesn’t have much choice but to accept his fate, until he meets Lily Abbot.

Lily claims she can help him and from the moment he meets her, Aiden starts to feel less like a monster and more like a human but he doesn’t trust himself not to hurt Lily so he abruptly leaves her and The Brethren. When Lily is attacked some time later, Aiden reappears, saves her and just like before their chemistry is undeniable but there’s still the problem of Aiden’s transformation and the real reason Lily wants to help.

It’s been awhile since the last Men of Brahm Hill book but Leaving Lily Behind didn’t waste time plunging me back into the paranormal world Christine Wenrick created. Not that I’m complaining, I’ve been in love with this series, heck with Wenrick’s work in general for awhile and Aiden’s story has been a long time coming.

What may not be immediately clear is that Leaving Lily Behind takes place at roughly the same time as the previous books. The series surrounds one ground changing battle and the effects that battle had on a group of men immediately after. Each character in the series is going through different things within the same time frame.

Aiden carried such a tough burden, having volunteered for experiments for the right reasons and then realizing that not everyone he trusted shared those right reasons. It was difficult for him to accept, let alone live with. I’ve read the series from the beginning so Aiden’s transformation and especially his outlook on life was pretty drastic and highlighted the differences between who Aiden was as a full human, who he was as a transitioning vampire and who he ended up at the end of the book. It wasn’t easy for Aiden and Wenrick didn’t spare him or readers any details of his difficult journey.

Adding to Aiden’s burden were the raw, primal and rather dominating feelings he had for Lily. It was both a blessing and a curse for him and those close to the pair and it added yet another element of unpredictability to the story and there was a point where I thought Aiden could go either way: He could become a valuable ally or a formidable enemy.

Then there was the secretive Lily. She really played things close to the vest until the last possible second but still managed to show enough of her personality to make her so likable. Yes, I was frustrated with her secrets but given the world that this story takes place in, sometimes the only thing someone had of value was information and that could keep them alive for another day. Still, Lily was a kind, empathetic character who really did want to help. She was a confident character in some areas but to balance out that confidence the author put her in a situation with Aiden where her personal boundaries were put into question and eventually torn down. She had just as much inner conflict as Aiden even if it was for different reasons. Both characters went through some major changes that really altered who they were at the end of the story.

Leaving Lily Behind could be a merciless and brutal story of good vs. evil but it wasn’t all darkness and death. I found moments of light hearted tenderness, humor and hope and it was those moments that made this book feel real to me. I love a gritty paranormal but I also want those stolen moments of joy and happiness that brings a reader closer to the characters and makes you want them to win, to triumph over the overwhelming odds to become who you know they could be. It was in those quiet moments that Aiden and Lily could just be themselves instead of the pawns in a game of war.

Final Verdict: For readers who haven’t read the series before I would highly suggest that the series be read in order so that Leaving Lily Behind won’t seem so confusing in the beginning. However, if you don’t mind being a bit befuddled in the beginning and having to piece together what has happened in the previous books then by all means begin with this one.

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