In STAIN Phal delivers her signature gut punch backgrounds for both Aylee and Maddox. STAIN opens upon a scene that will have you covering your mouth and not wanting the scene to unfold the way that you just know it will. Max's memories will make you want to weep for the horrors inflicted upon two innocent little boys and wish that their abuser hadn't been dispatched so quickly.
Aylee has her own demons that she battles by releasing the pressure that she feels building under her skin until she can't ignore it anymore. What should have been a safe haven for a lost little girl ends up being her own private hell. Nothing about Aylee's family is what it seems from the outside. Aylee only has two ways to soothe her pains; one leaves scars and the other is her best chance to escape her house of lies.
Phal is brilliant at shining little shafts of light into the darkest and most tragic of lives. Love, even when tainted and coming from people who are fractured to the point of near shattering, is what gives Aylee and Max the hope that they were both missing. The fact that these two are only 18 years old, still in high school, and have already lived such tragic lives just makes this story that much more heart wrenching.
STAIN has everything that I expected to get from a story from Francette Phal. Severely damaged characters that are well developed, betrayal by people that you should be able to count on, and passion and love that is both desperate and absolving. The only complaint that I have is that the story ended abruptly which made me feel that I was left dangling. Aylee was able to leave after her final encounter rather quickly and the final scene left me feeling like the story is just on pause but not finished. I really hope that there is a continuation for Aylee and Maddox. I would also LOVE to have a story for Maddox's brother Noah. Noah reacted to and survived their abuse so differently from Maddox. It would be great to get his story starting at the last time Noah and Maddox saw each other because there is a little bomb dropped by Noah.
I struggled with a star rating with STAIN. Phal sucked me into the story quickly and gave me all of the emotions that I expected, but I just can't shake free of the abrupt ending. I didn't expect Aylee and Maddox to ride off into the sunset because we know Phal isn't about the soft and gentle romance, but I needed a better sense of closure for them. However, when it comes down to it, once again Phal has presented two characters that will stick with me and I will think about them often and long after finishing the book. I highlighted so many quotes in this one as well, which I don't do a lot of, so how can I not give this the highest star rating? So five stars it is!
**I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. **
"You're like the sun...and I'm the stupid moon. Always chasing after you."
I didn't know it was possible to fall so deeply into someone. To drown so strongly into their bottomless depths coming up for air was unfathomable. Until he comes along, with his sun-hot radiance, and eclipses the candle that is me. He's Lucifer before the fall, beautiful but the devil is in the way he looks at me. In the way his touch brands his name across every inch of my skin. His kisses possess my soul in the most sinful of ways.
Maddox Moore is my beginning and my end. Protector, friend, and lover—he's become my sole religion. At his side I become fearless, in his arms I burn to cinders, and in worshiping him I lose myself and discover the person he sees in me. But nothing is forever. Moments are ephemeral. No matter how much you want something life inevitably reminds you that you can't have it.
I'm damaged. He's broken. We're both covered in stains. Stains that make it impossible for us to hold onto each other.
About the Author
Francette lives in Massachusetts with her amazingly supportive husband of ten years and her darling two year old son. Reading amazing books has led her to writing and she’s dabbled in fan-fiction before self-publishing her own works. She’s constantly thinking up new stories to write and does her best work when music is playing in the background. Romance is where she’s most comfortable but she hopes to one day venture in mystery novels. She has a weakness for coffee ice cream, tropical fruits and a good glass of wine.