“That’s what you do, Cam. See what others ignore. Love what others neglect. Cherish what others throw away.”

Whilst Camden Walker: Apartment 8c is the second book in the Wreck Me series, it can be read as a complete standalone, with the only connection being the apartment building where the lead characters reside, though we highly recommend meeting Ashton Morgan in book one. His story completely stole our hearts. However, this is Camden Walkers’ story, which is a slow burn, raw, painful, and deeply moving story about love, healing, and acceptance.

‘Love takes trust I don’t have, not just because it won’t betray you, but in yourself. You need to believe there’s something worth loving to accept the possibility that another could find it.’

Aly Stiles trademark lyrical prose perfectly suited Camden and Olivia’s story which revolved around art, emotion, and colours. Camden as a character was written to perfection. His pain was our pain, and we felt personally invested in every aspect of his character. His dissociative personality was captured with honesty and sensitivity. Aly Stiles did a stellar job in portraying Camden’s issues.

Twenty-seven-year-old Camden suffered a traumatic and horrific incident in his youth which has left him feeling not only unworthy of love, but he doesn’t quite understand what love is, thus incapable of giving love in the ‘normal’ definition. He sadly doesn’t see the soulful beauty underneath the self-loathing. Expressing himself through his art, he’s transient with partners, always anticipating the inevitable – the time when his relationships will end.

‘I was formed in pain. In some ways, it’s all I am. My art is my story. All people have to do is understand it to read my secrets.’

Olivia perfectly sums up Camden when she says ‘Someone taught him he’s a commodity. That he’s nothing but currency to be bartered and traded in exchange for survival.’ Camden wears his pain like a shield, and Olivia Price was the first person to see Camden the person.

Twenty-nine-year-old Olivia Price is successful in her job but lacks self-worth and the excitement of life, this following year of living in her beautiful (but awful) sister Claire’s, shadow. Camden slowly brings out the beauty and the belief Olivia so lacks. Olivia shows Camden love and colour, seeing the man, not the victim.

‘I just think I’m more equipped to absorb pain than most people. I can endure and shed heartache that would break others.’

Much of Camden’s story was left up to the readers’ interpretation but it was no less difficult for us to imagine what Camden had endured in life. We did have an issue with the fade to black love scenes. We felt this intimate and touching moment would have been the perfect time for us to see and feel the healing of Camden as he lets his guard down and understands what it can truly mean, and we wish it had been a little more explicit in that regard. It is rare that we voice a need for it in our stories but this time the poignancy of just one scene would have added that momentous moment of realisation of love.

‘How could something horrific produce something so beautiful? And how can you hate that thing with every fibre of your being and be grateful for it at the same time?’

Although we did find the end moved a little on the slow side, there was no doubting this was a moving, honest and extremely beautiful story of a man’s struggle to love and a woman who never gave up on him.