Adult Reviews Romance Standalones

Release Blitz & Review | What We Leave Behind

Spoiler Free Review

ARC kindly provided by Give Me Books and Boom Factory Publishing, LLC in exchange of an honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️.8 / 5 stars.

Author: Linda Oaks.

Release Date: January 21, 2021.

Genre: Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense.

Trigger Warnings: abandonment, death of a loved one.

“Life is beautiful–short and fleeting, but beautiful.”

When police officer Lucille Fisher is injured in the line of duty, she reevaluates her life and decides to confront a ghost from her past. In search of the mother who abandoned her at the age of ten, Lucy travels to the small backwoods town of Briarwood, Georgia determined to lay her past to rest. What Lucy doesn’t count on is a complication she never saw coming.

The notorious outlaw known as Devil rules the town of Briarwood, and a chance encounter with a feisty brunette along the highway leaves him burning for more. Temptation comes in many forms, and Devil is intrigued.

Now, the outlaw has Lucy in his sights.

Small towns have their fair share of secrets, and Briarwood is no exception to the rule. What started out as a trip for Lucy to reconnect with her past turns into something more, following the disappearance of an undercover FBI agent. Not only does Lucy find herself playing a dangerous game that could ultimately end up costing her life but also battling her heart.

Will Lucy have the opportunity to make amends with her past or end up paying the ultimate price?

Can you really dance with the devil without getting burned?

Free on Kindle Unlimited

Author Bio: Linda Oaks

Linda Oaks loves chaotic romances with happily ever afters. She believes the road to true love is always complicated. She has a passion for sweet tea, chick flicks, fuzzy socks and 80’s big hair bands. When she’s not writing, she can be found spending time with her family, reading, fishing or lying in a hammock in her front yard daydreaming. She resides in Eastern Kentucky with her husband, two children and a horde of animals. She can be found on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. She can also be reached by email at She loves connecting with her readers.

About Boom Factory Publishing

Aurora Rose Reynolds and her husband, Sedaka Reynolds, created Boom Factory Publishing to use their experiences to expand and promote upcoming and existing indie authors. With over five years in the industry, and millions of books sold worldwide, we know what it takes to become a successful author and we will use this knowledge to take our authors to the next level.

“As a successful hybrid author in this ever evolving industry, I know that you’re only as successful as the team that is promoting you!” – Aurora Rose Reynolds

I want to clear up first and foremost that my rating depends on my personal enjoyment, it is not a reflection of the quality of the book. I didn’t have as much fun with it as I hoped, but, from a more objective point of view, it deserves about a 3.5 or 4 stars out of 5.

From a writing standpoint, this novel surprised me. I thought that the vocabulary and descriptions were beautifully done. From the very beginning Linda Oaks demonstrated a magnificent ability to make you feel and understand everything that was happening. And, as the story progressed, this never changed. That particular aspect also added a unique depth to the prologue, in my opinion. I was gobsmacked that the story began with such an intense scene, and my eyes even teared up at how devastating it all was. The author did a wonderful job of explaining the situation and letting us know how important it would be in the long run.

Sometimes it’s best not to know what happened, because then if you don’t know, you can’t hurt.

Our main character, Lucy, was good enough. I enjoyed reading from her point of view and found her inner monologue interesting enough. I was constantly intrigued about how she would deal with certain issues, and I really appreciated how mature she was. In terms of her job, she didn’t seem very experienced (which seemed understandable with her position), but she was fearless and willing to do the right thing. On that note, I thought her struggle between how she felt towards the love interest and her impulse to so her duty was fascinating. At times it dragged a little, but I thought it was an interesting choice to make in her character development.

Now that I mention the male protagonist… I didn’t really like him, which is really a surprise for me because I usually love them no matter what. I think that Boone was too much of an Alpha male to the point that it became frustrating. Everyone kept insisting that he had a soft, caring side, but I never saw it (and, believe me, I was looking for it). Also, many of the comments that he did were a little misogynistic, which I usually ignore on these types of novels (even though I shouldn’t), but these bordered that very fine line that authors should always be mindful of. However, I will say that Linda Oaks did balance it out a bit with Lucy, cause she didn’t take any of his shit. Still, Boone was a annoying to read about.

Unfortunately, because I didn’t like Boone very much, the romance didn’t appeal to me either. I mean, I always enjoy watching two people fall in love, and their back and forth was lovely. Yet, I found myself a little tired of them. They took so long to get together and they were forced to hide so much from one another that I was desperate to see how it would be resolved. While this did keep me engaged, I was frustrated as I said previously. Despite all this, they had a very good ending that I think really made sense with their situation–they got to know each other a lot better, they both grew as people, and therefore were ready for a future together. Again, I feel like the ending made up for all the angst that they brought on at the beginning.

No amount of anger I hold on to is going to change the past. I’m so tired of hanging on to all this hurt.

The plot-line about Lucy and her mom was, without a doubt, the strongest part of the book. I won’t go into detail because no spoilers, but throughout the entire book I was curious about what would happen next and how that particular aspect would pan out. I will say that I did not like how everyone else reacted to Lucy’s feelings in this situation because they were all invalidating her feelings. It all ended well at least. I just wanted to mention that.

I was also looking forward to the crime, but it was as underwhelming as the romance. I think that, in the grand scheme of things, the crime and the romance had a lot of potential, but they were consumed by each other. I think that the author tried to intertwine these storylines, but she did it so much that both of them were underdeveloped. Still, much like the romance recuperated towards the end, the crime did as well (only a little though). The book dragged in the middle, but it had that impactful and climactic ending that I love, but it could’ve happened a lot sooner. Waaay sooner.

So, this book was good, but it didn’t fulfill my expectations. I didn’t like the epilogue, particularly because of it’s structure and the narrative style, but it did a good job of rounding everything up. I do recommend this book if you like intense romance, lost-and-found-family tropes, and subtle crime.