What Lies Between

What Lies Between - B.N. Toler

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What Lies Between is book 2 of B.N. Toler’s Where One Goes series; one that was most anticipated by many of us who loved book 1, Where One Goes. It was one of my favorite reads of 2015 and a 5 stars at that. B.N. Toler was a new to me author and she blew my mind with her storytelling. I was pretty sad that there won’t be a sequel to the story when it felt like it needed a one badly. In that sense, this is a very lovely surprise that I didn’t expect to see but was extremely happy nonetheless to see it becoming a reality. 

As usual with my reviews, I’ll begin with a bit of backstory. Where One Goes is narrated from multiple first POVs of the main protagonists; 3 of them. But it begins with Charlotte, our h, trying to help out one last soul before she became of them. Charlotte had a lovely childhood until a few years ago when a tragic accident that changed everything. One moment of impulsive decision took the life of her elder brother Axel and left her badly injured. As she was recovering from her near fatal injury, Charlotte found out the most astonishing thing that had ever happened to her!  She could see spirits; souls in limbo that needed help in crossing over. Since she wasn’t used to it, Charlotte needed help alongside the love and support of her parents in gradually becoming used to with her new ‘gift’. However, her strictly religious parents couldn’t connect with her ‘issues’, thinking she’s become mentally unstable and their relationship deteriorated to a point that she was told simply to leave. Just go away , was all she got. Ever since then Charlotte has been on her own, trying to eke out a life herself and doing what she was meant to be doing; helping out souls that needed her help.

But the years in between has already taken its toll on Charlotte. When a spirit sees you and decides that it wants your help, there’s no escaping that. Either you help them or they follow you around until you do. Being totally alone and not being able to accept the burden of her gift completely, she was mentally exhausted, physically drained. She wanted out and she thought only death would give her that option. No, she didn’t know if that’d help either but that’s the only way she could think of to end it all. Enter Ike McDermott; one of the twins of Mr. and Mrs. McDermott of Warm Springs. Recently deceased in a war and a soul stuck in limbo who was looking for help.

Ike had a better life than Charlotte with a pair of loving parents. He and his twin, George and their adopted brother Cameron had the type of familial bonding with their parents that people don’t always get to have and envy. Mr. and Mrs. McDermott was the perfect example of what parents should be like and Ike was forever grateful to have them. It was because of the teaching of selflessness that Ike decided to join the army and when he died, he thought he’d died doing his service to his country. No big regrets. But, sadly, he couldn’t cross over. Although his parents were trying their best to keep it together, George was a hot mess. It was so bad that it was all Ike could do to kick his butt. He wished he still could do that. But George can’t see him and Ike can do nothing to help him. So when he tried to convince Charlotte to not jump from that bridge, he didn’t think she’d hear much less reply to him. He was just acting out of habit. Yet when she did, Ike was dumbfounded. Here was his help after all! Someone who could hear him. No no, she could see him too!! Needless to say, Ike was overjoyed.

After being rescued by Ike from the colossal mistake she was going to make, Charlotte decides to help him out. With his charming personality, effortless goodlooks, and his innate sense of goodness, Ike won her over very soon. They had an instant bond that Charlotte knew was so wrong since it’s never good to get attached to a soul, much less feel attracted to him. But in the course of Charlotte finding Warm Springs to help out George and trying to build a new life there, she finds that she has fallen in love with Ike. He felt the same and oh so wished they could touch each other. Convey their emotions in every way possible. But that was not to be so Charlotte settled for having him with her however long she could.

But in Warm Springs a surprise was waiting for her when she sees George for the first time. Ike may have neglected to mention to her that George was his identical twin! ;) Whereas Ike had the big and buff body of a military man, George was slender than him though both brothers shared the same height and features. Then Charlotte also figured out that George was addicted to drugs and a girl who worked there was helping him down that path of destruction. Not only that, they were also physically involved; a fact Charlotte had difficult time taking in. Especially knowing that the girl was trying to destroy George while also cheating on her boyfriend. It was also maybe the fact that she was also attracted to George and this attraction was way different than what she felt for Ike. For Ike, she felt a kind of warm, soft loving as she later dubs him as her soulmate, but with George it was more like opposites attract. They couldn’t stand each-other but there was no denying their sizzling attraction. Charlotte knew she was in a big trouble, but she also knew she had to help George if nothing but to bring peace for Ike and his parents. She needed to help Ike cross over.

In the course of her finding a new life, with a job too, Charlotte comes to know some wonderful people there. The Mercers, who took her in as a daughter because they believed in her gift when she brought a message for them from their own deceased daughter. She also comes to appreciate Mr. and Mrs. McDermott who also believed in her when she gave them some information about Ike that she couldn’t have known as an outsider. Sniper, a goofy Scotsman; a military guy who used to be Ike’s buddy but now settled in Warm Springs and his on and off girlfriend, Anna. Most of them believed her. However, it was George who was difficult to convince that Charlotte had a gift that could help his brother cross over.

As the story progressed, there are some thrilling moments that had me glued to the book. I was waiting to know what happened in the end, though I already had an idea what would actually happen. In the end, when George began believing in Charlotte’s gift, they began falling for each-other. As they found love, with George trying to do everything possible to recover from his addiction, Ike knew it was time to go. He loved Charlotte and George equally and was happy to have brought them together. He was happy to give George his Charlotte because it felt right at that moment. When he felt that they were both in good hands only then he could finally cross over.

When the story ended I was a hot mess of emotions myself cause it left me in tears reading the scene of Ike’s crossing over. There no big drama or climax but it was a poignant moment anyway. As I finished I found that I’d also fallen in love with Ike myself and hoped he’d find his HEA too. But how’s that possible when he’s already dead? There was no logical answer to that wild wish of mine.

Ever since I finished Where One Goes, I’d checked at least once a year to find out if there’d be any sequel. So when this year I found out about What Lies Between, I was absolutely ecstatic because...Just because. If nothing else, I could read about my favorite characters once again. To know how they’re doing, also hoping to see Ike again. :) What Lies Between begins some 3 yrs. after Where One Goes and is narrated the same way, through the first person POVs of our 3 main protagonists. I’d suggest you begin with book 1 since this is not a standalone story.

Charlotte and George have been married for the most part of those 3yrs. and they seemingly have a wonderful life together. It wasn’t a charmed life but they were doing great nonetheless. Their love for each-other and their family held it together for them. George had been a very supporting husband and tried his best to help Charlotte with her endeavors cause souls in limbo never stopped coming to her. At times he felt helpless if Charlotte was looking too exhausted from all that she went through because he couldn’t really do anything to help in that regard. But there was no denying the love between them and the pillar of support he’d been for her as she’s been for him.

Lately Charlotte had been having a very restless time that accompanied blinding headaches and it was taking a toll on her. George was extremely worried and frustrated that he couldn’t help her the way he wanted to. They had already talked about having children and planning on a future when, one night, their life changes once again when a soul in limbo finds Charlotte and frantically asks for her help. While returning from an excursion, she, George, Sniper and Anna lose their direction and find themselves in a dilapidated area of the town. When Charlotte saw the woman, she instantly knew from her past experiences and her physical reaction that this individual was not alive. It was proven soon enough when the woman asks Charlotte to follow her and only she could see or hear anything she said. That is also how they all find themselves in front of the house they’d later call as the Hell House. A house full of so much darkness within it that Charlotte began feeling sick the moment she’s exposed to its environment. When she was uncertain about going in like the rest of her little team, seeing two little girls peeking through one of the windows changes her mind. If children were involved, Charlotte would help. It was that simple.

This Hell House, its dark and shady past and one of its unfortunate young inhabitants would eventually become the center of Charlotte, as well as George’s, life and lead all of them to one drastic situations or another. Lives will change and Charlotte will finally see Ike again. But will there finally be a happy ending for them? Can this be termed as a ‘happy ending’ for that matter??

We, the bloggers who were given ARCs, were requested to not give away any spoilers and I’ll respect that by not giving away anything salient. Knowing me, it’s very difficult for me to not say anything about the book at all. Then again, I do think you need to read to experience this book for yourself. Let me tell you that you’ll experience a lot more than you’d think or even imagine. Like me if any of you were enamored of Ike then yes, he’ll also be there for the most part. However, don’t expect HEA for everyone concerned. Because really, when one person is actually dead and had crossed over, something like that is virtually impossible. I loved Charlotte, George and Ike (though I’d always have a much softer spot for Ike) so I was equally torn and heartsick about the whole situation. :(

The ending of What Lies Between left me hovering between disappointment, the unfairness of it all and at the same time, trying to think logical. But to be fair to the author, the storyline was complex, still quite thrilling and got me hooked for the most part even as I was dreading the ending. I couldn’t imagine how the author would resolve it all when I began reading, but I also couldn’t fault her for taking the direction she finally did. I’m happy and heartbroken at the same time if that’s even possible.

I don’t know if there’ll be any more installments in the series for I still hope to read Sniper and Anna’s story. But I can’t really envision another installment centering on our main characters so maybe this is the end after all. I highly recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a very well-written paranormal romance wanting have both heartwarming and heartwrenching experience at the same time. 4.5 stars.

I’ll thank B.N. Toler again for this journey she’d taken us to. What a ride it’s been! :)

ARC received from the author in exchange of an honest review.