★★★ ★ 4 Stars ★★★★
Dirt poor. Hillbilly. Backwoods hick. Mountain folk.
Tenleigh Falyn struggles each day to survive in a small, poverty-stricken, coal mining town where she lives with her sister and mentally ill mother. Her dream of winning the college scholarship given to one student by the local coal company and escaping the harshness of her life, keeps her going.
Kyland Barrett lives in the hills, too, and has worked tirelessly—through near starvation, through deep loneliness, against all odds—to win the Tyton Coal Scholarship and leave the town that is full of so much pain.
They’re both determined not to form any attachments, but one moment changes everything. What happens when only one person gets to win? When only one person gets to leave? And what happens to the one left behind?
Kyland is a story of desperation and hope, loss and sacrifice, pain and forgiveness, but ultimately, a story of deep and unending love.
Set against the backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains in a poor mining community, Tenleigh and Kyland are just two of the people trying to survive the daily drudge. Both very studious, they are competing against each other for a scholarship that will enable the winner to get out of the hopeless town and work towards a better life. A life where they wouldn’t go hungry anymore and have something other than old clothes and worn down homes.
Kyland has sworn to himself that he will do anything he can to leave town once he graduates, even if he doesn’t win the scholarship he is going anyway, and his number one goal is to leave town without any attachments – to the people or the town he despises.
Tenleigh lives with her sister and mentally ill mother. She wants a better life for all of them but what she also wants is to be proven wrong about the men that have let her down in the past. She wants to experience love but being abandoned by her father and seeing men treat her mum and sister like dirt, she has lost hope that one day her prince will come.
Kyland and Tenleigh become friends, they communicate through notes left in books, depressing books at that, and they banter and argue but they eventually form a bond that you know is only going to end in heartbreak. Tenleigh sees how lonely Kyland is and will take what she can get even though she knows it will be shortlived.
Half agony, half hope.
Half pain, half ecstasy.
Half grief, half joy.
Half my downfall, half my savior.”
I really enjoyed reading this book, I loved watching Kyland fight his growing feelings for Tenleigh and even though some chapters were in his point of view and you saw how hard it was for him to suddenly have his plan be put in jeopardy by his intense feelings, you never really understood how much he really loved her until the end and that was what got to me emotionally, it was a beautiful thing to watch unfold.
My only complaint was that the second part of the story was a bit rushed, I feel it should have been a 50/50 split and if you are going to do time gaps then the second part should be as detailed and as intense as the first. We had so much build up and then when they finally came together at the end it all happened too quickly, in my opinion.
Still, for me it was a heartwarming read and I would recommend it to those who like an emotional read.
This is a completely standalone story in the Sign of Love series.