ARC REVIEW: Somewhere to Begin (Poison & Wine #1) by Mika Jolie

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I’ve come to expect emotional reads from Mika Jolie.  Ms. Jolie did not come here to play games with us, ya hear! Somewhere to Begin is not a light-hearted romance, kids!  Strap yourself in for an angsty, heart-wrenching and poignant read.

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Zander is Lily’s brother who we first met in Need You Now.  I liked all of Lily’s brothers and was salivating at the chance to read their individual stories, so there was no question I was eager for Zander’s book when Ms. Jolie announced it’s upcoming release some months ago.

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What Need You Now didn’t prepare me for was who Zander, a Navy SEAL, would be now that a few years have passed. Zander isn’t the same man since his last mission that left him mentally and physically wounded.  He’s broken; not the man we met before. He’s suffering from PTSD, survivor’s guilt and grieving the loss of his SEAL brothers who were lost during that mission in Afghanistan.  Zander is just trying to figure out how to live his new normal day by day, without spiraling down the dark abyss that many veterans before him have done.

We meet Colbie as she awaits her walk down the aisle to her not-so-charming groom on her wedding day.  She’s finally fed up with hiding her fiancé’s abuse and living a lie.  So she laces up her battered red Chucks, hops in her car and leaves that Stepford life in her rear view.

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On her way to the small town of Princeton, NJ, Zander and Colbie collide…quite literally. And Colbie wakes up to Zander in her hospital room. The bruises on her body aren’t only from the car accident, so Colbie makes all of Zander’s protective instincts fire on all cylinders at full blast.

“The thing is I’m not looking for someone to save me…I’d much rather have someone stand by my side as I save myself.”

Colbie and Zander try to fight against what they are feeling, but eventually they find their way toward healing and loving each other without reservation.

How do you know it’s love?”

“Before you, I lost myself somewhere in the dark….And then you came into my life with a flashlight in hand.”

This book had me in my feels from beginning to end. My heart broke for both Zander and Colbie at points, but the tone of Somewhere to Begin is hope and healing; that you can find your way back after going through hell.  I enjoyed Colbie’s transformation from meek Stepford almost-wife to finding her own way in a new town with new friends and Zander. And when Colbie stands up to her ex-fiancé when he tries to come back into the picture on some “you’re mine!” bullshhhhh…

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The theme of forgiving and healing from the past seems as if it’ll be a common thread throughout the Poison and Wine series with Colbie’s friend, Delia, the fourth musketeer, Paige and Zander’s brothers Max and Rafa who I look forward to getting to know better in their own books.

“Somewhere between heartaches and waiting comes another chance.”

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

*ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review.*

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