Let's start at the beginning, the "well-off", sweet, sheltered Ginger McHuid is celebrating her 12th birthday but before she goes home to eat her cake she has a tradition to keep with her best friends - Josiah Woodman and Cain Wolfram. Though Josiah and Cain are 3 years older than Ginger they have been together all of their childhood, the boys being cousins who were born to twin sisters making them closer, more like siblings. Yet they couldn't be more different - while Sophie, Josiah's mother, married well (both for love and money) and so brought up Woodman as the perfect gentleman often welcomed into Ginger's house. Sarah, Cain's mother, found herself married to "the help" - an Austrian horseman who came to work in the prestige ranch of Ginger's family. Sarah and Klaus never really worked out, so while fighting with each other they kind of forgot their son who very quickly became as naughty as they get and found himself more in trouble than not (and naturally not approved by Ginger's mother at their house).
On that 12th birthday Cain and Woodman share a very meaningful moment in which Woodman claims to love Ginger even now and planning to marrying her when they are older. At that moment, Cain didn't feel he was giving too much, but not very long after he realized that, like Woodman he also loves young Ginger and yet he knows Woodman is the better man, in general and for Ginger so he accepts the bargain they made wishing Ginger all the best with the person that can and will make her happy.
But what about young Ginger? well, though she loves both cousins, she just recently realized she doesn't love them the same way. While Woodman was always her best friend, Cain is the one who makes her heart soar.
The one thing I somehow forgot to mention up until now - This is a modern time fairytale - telling us a different kind of story for "Little Red Riding Hood" with Ginger in the main role caught between the the woodsman (yep, Woodman) and the wolf (clearly, Cain). While in the end we DO get a HEA between two (there's NO menage in here!!) It's never about the best man getting the girl, it's not, because unlike the story we know, the wolf isn't the "villain" and the woodsman isn't necessarily the "savior". Wait, I haven't forgotten there's a grandmother in this one! Kelleyanne (Ginger's grandmother) has a very significant part in this one as well, being Ginger's sole friend and confidant besides the cousins (her parents being self absorbed in their own problems) helping Ginger figure out the "right" choice.
The story captures their growing up journey, alternating POVs of all three of them - Ginger, Woodman and Cain for a little more than 10 years. Two cousins, one girl, loving each other so dearly and yet not always wanting the same or the right thing for themselves or one another. As the story progresses, all three of them get older, the cousins joining the army, returning home, life and it's course isn't what anyone of them expected. Heart ache and loss follows all three even with the best intentions.
The story is long, as I wrote somewhere in the beginning, and not only that, there is a sort of strange pattern to the chapters, each one beginning with a sort of recapturing of the last scene from another person's perspective. So at times we are getting certain interactions twice. First time I read one of those I was confused - hey! I've already read that! - yet, it was so fitting because you can get into a person's head in a very precise way. Each chapter has his or her own speaker and so we get the whole view of who each of the three are, and at what point in time / life they are in. It was meaningful to have more than one perspective because the love triangle and the growing up they had to do wasn't easy. They all made mistakes along the way, they needed to grow up, to go through some heart breaking moments for this book to FINALLY get a HEA. It was so beautiful I was chocked with tears, there was never a dull moment, there was always a sort of progression that even though you cursed it to hell for being wrong HAD to happen and break my heart over and over again.
I can't recommend this book enough, because there are NO words. I can't remember when I've read a book this way, where I was just owed by a book for the WHOLE duration of it, wanting for it to end, for the wrongness and suffering to end and yet it doesn't work that way. As the famous quote from the "Princess Bride" says "Life is pain highness, everyone who says differently is selling something". Considering Cain often calls Ginger "Princess" it's even more fitting..
Grab it NOW, start reading it a moment later. You'll thank me, sure, but you'll mostly thank Katy for this beautiful and crashing experience.
Naturally grab the others in the series (all stand alone) as well ;) But just so you'll know, yeah, THIS ONE is my favorite ;)
Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 462 pages, 25-27 March 2016 / On GoodReads