Review: Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O'Keefe

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher/gifted
Series: Everything I Left Unsaid #1
I didn’t think answering someone else’s cellphone would change my life. But the stranger with the low, deep voice on the other end of the line tempted me, awakened my body, set me on fire. He was looking for someone else. Instead he found me.

And I found a hot, secret world where I felt alive for the first time.

His name was Dylan, and, strangely, he made me feel safe. Desired. Compelled. Every dark thing he asked me to do, I did. Without question. I longed to meet him, but we were both keeping secrets. And mine were dangerous. If I took the first step, if I got closer to Dylan—emotionally, physically—then I wouldn’t be hiding anymore. I would be exposed, with nothing left to surrender but the truth. And my truth could hurt us both.

Everything I Left Unsaid was an amazing read. Darker than my usual romances, but I was captivated by the story from start to finish--once I started reading, I couldn't stop and it kept me up late in the night.
Annie is 24 years old and, after years of suffering physical and psychological abuse from her husband, finally found the strength to leave. Scared that her husband was coming after her, she traveled all over for a few weeks and finally decided to hide in a trailer park in North Carolina. On her first night in her trailer she found a ringing cell phone and on the other end was Dylan. They began a dangerous relationship because both were telling lies about their identities, but also truths they've never told anyone else. 

I almost didn't give this novel a full five stars because of that very first phone call. Annie was on the run from her abusive and controlling husband. I find it hard to believe that she'd pick up that very first phone call on her first night at her new place. She was scared, nervous and guarding her identity very closely. Then, a strange man was calling and telling her he knows where she is and there's a sexual undertone to the call. Her being a victim of abuse and on the run, I had my doubts. However, t's not big deal in the greater scheme of the story, and later you kinda understand why she would respond this way, but I thought I'd mention it because it did bother me a little bit.

I adored Annie. She was an amazing, complex character. She's a strange mix of innocence and strength, vulnerability and determination. She's old beyond her years after everything she suffered but she also retains this innocence and pureness about her. She had a sheltered upbringing with a difficult mother who conditioned her to believe that the outside world was a dangerous place. After leaving her old life, she was determined to shake off the controlling influence of her husband and to finally live her life. I celebrated her little victories with her, like going to the grocery store and buying things her favorite things. Dylan further challenges her to step out of her comfort zone, daring her to do small little things she never considered to do in her old life, as well as push her sexual boundaries all through phone calls.

Annie and Dylan had this strong sexual tension and things only got hotter from that initial conversation--you guys, there was a lot of phone sex and they were sexy and scorching hot! The author did such a great job building their relationship through the phone. You'd think it wouldn't be quite believable because the two of them have never met physically, but it worked! 

Besides Annie and Dylan, we also have side characters who were interesting on their own, like Annie's neighbor Ben who had a dangerous past and a mysterious connection to Dylan, as well as others who live in the trailer park like Joan the stripper and Tiffany, a woman with children with an abusive husband of her own. Most of the story was in Annie's perspective, and though we learn a little bit of Dylan as sometimes the point of view alternates, we don't learn as much about him as we do Annie. I don't want to reveal too much, but there was a bit of a Beauty and the Beast vibe between Annie and Dylan that I really dug.

 Everything I Left Unsaid was addicting, and like I said, it kept me up reading late in the night. It's well-written, well-paced, with complex characters and the sex was HOT despite the characters not physically together for most of the novel. They do eventually meet physically and DAMN there were some HOT HOT SMEXY TIMES!! It also had a dark, dangerous tone to it that I didn't think I'd like initially, but ended up really appreciating because it added a different flavor unlike my typical reads. I had a feeling Annie's past was going to catch up to her and I was just waiting for that big twist. Yes, it does end with a cliffhanger since Everything I Left Unsaid is part of a duology. But it works out because I want more of Annie and Dylan and The Truth About Him (book 2) is already out. You're going to want to just get both and read them back to back. I highly recommend.

Update: My review of The Truth About Him is posted HERE. But, only read it after you read Everything I Left Unsaid because I totally spoil this book on that review.

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