Title: Under the Influence
Author: L.B. Simmons
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would ravage me.
Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again.
I loved you.
I raged for you.
I wept for you.
And now, I’m letting you go.
Author’s Note: Under the Influence is the journey of two childhood friends that spans the course of five pivotal years in their lives. It is a story about their discovery of true friendship as it blossoms into first love, their experience of crucial sacrifice and ultimate betrayal, and their endurance of agonizing heartbreak on the way to finding lasting redemption.
Wow! What an amazing read! Under the Influence is a beautifully written love story that tugged at my heart strings. I loved everything about it – the writing, the plot, characterization, and worldbuilding. While this is my first L.B. Simmons book, I know it won’t be the last.
This is Spencer (Spence) and Dalton’s story, and it’s narrated from point characters perspectives. I love reading books in dual POV, and I especially love reading the male perspective so extra brownie points for that.
Spence and Dalton met as kids and thus began a friendship that lasted until they were in their late teens. When we first meet them, Spence is 17 and in her last year of school, and Dalton is 18 and he has just finished. This is the second book in a row I’ve read where the male character had a troubled background filled with abuse and neglect. And like that other book, Under the Influence made me feel everything he felt, and made me care. I felt a deep emotional connection to both of them. I adore books that really delve into the emotional layers beneath the surface, and this book delivered on that front. I thought both characters were very well-developed, but especially Dalton. It was difficult being in his head at times – raw, gritty, and painful, but it was realistic.
Dalton has cut himself off emotionally from everyone, and even his best bud Rat, and Spence, only catch the odd glimpse of his real persona. He hides who he is in front of Spence out of misguided loyalty and in an attempt to shelter her from the seedier side of his life. He was preyed on as a youngster and has gotten himself into a nasty mess, but he is struggling to see any way out. Because of this, he won’t even entertain the notion of a romantic relationship with Spence even though it’s what both of them want and need. Eventually, they cave to their feelings and become a couple, and it was so sweet. We got to see a different side to Dalton and he was lighter and brighter as a result.
One beautiful night turns disastrous and they are torn apart from one another. I won’t say any more for fear of spoiling the story, but suffice it to say that there is plenty of heartbreak and angst for our young couple.
I thought it was a little slow-paced at the start but after a few chapters the pace picked up and it kept my attention the whole way through.
I loved the secondary characters, especially Cassie. The author is writing her story next and I will definitely check it out. She is an intriguing character, and she had some of the funniest lines and scenes in the book. She always had Spence’s back and I loved her as a best friend.
I love this author’s writing style! Her prose is beautiful – poetic and eloquent, though others may find it overly descriptive in parts. Not me, I loved every word.
I liked the note the author put in the back – that was a nice touch. I also love this cover. It’s stunning!
Overall, this was a fantastic read and it had bits of everything – love and romance, friendship, family, suspense, drama, heartache, sacrifice, and above all else – redemption. I’d highly recommend it.
Actual rating 4.5 stars.
About the Author:
USA Today Bestselling Author of The Mending Hearts Series, The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller, and Under the Influence