Antoinette Vaughn, (Toni) was enjoying a very nice life. Beautiful, intelligent and sophisticated with an excellent job, she had no idea when she stepped in to help a friend, that her life would change forever. Wrongly sentenced to a lifetime in hell, Toni’s life came crashing down around her.
Although four years later Toni’s conviction was squashed and she walked free, the damage, both physically and mentally had been done. She may have her freedom, but her life is a living hell. She’s a prisoner in her own mind as well as her dingy flat.
Toni had been born into a life of privilege. Estranged from her family years earlier, the dark, dilapidated flat in a building that should have been condemned is her home now. Cold and stark, just like how she feels, she doesn’t need much. It will be less to leave when she is gone. In her mind, her life is not worth living and her self esteem is zero. Death will be welcomed.
Toni’s lonely existence begins to slowly change when a beautiful woman who won’t take no for an answer comes into her life like a breath of fresh air. But, has Toni sunk too far into an abyss to be helped? How can she survive in a world that terrifies her? Toni views everyone as her enemy, who can she trust? Can Toni learn to breath without wishing for her own death? Furthermore, what would Toni do if her past returned? Would she want revenge on her abusers?
This book is a well written, absolute blockbuster of epic proportions. None the less, I still didn’t want it to end. It’s one of those books that I didn’t want to put down until the end, but I had to because it was far too long to read in one sitting. Tearing myself away wasn’t easy though.
This is not an easy book to read and the story is emotionally draining. It is full of angst and pain, but, also full of hope too. Emotionally, this book has a little of everything. Love, happiness, sadness, despair, agony, humor, but most of all, learning how to trust, courage and hope. Hope that Toni will be able to get her life back on track. Hope that she will simply be able to do the things most of us take for granted, like being around people, shopping, an evening out, a day trip, trusting a friend. All things Toni had to overcome her fears for and find the courage to do.
Both Toni and Laura are wonderful multidimensional characters. They are backed up by a cast of fully formed secondary characters, all of whom kept this story marching forward at a nice steady pace until it’s climatic ending.
This is a book that evoked so many emotions in me as I followed Toni’s dramatic and at times, horrific journey. Shock, horror, anger, sorrow, laughter and a whole range more.
Toni’s road to healing with Laura’s help is not an easy one. Their love shines through with total commitment to each other, they are true soul mates. A love story that days after I finished reading it is still resonating through my head. This is a definite re-read, a book I will read and savor many times. In fact, I would dearly love a sequel to find out how Toni and Laura fared over the years.