Out of Breath (The Breathing Series #3) by Rebecca Donovan

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~~Ena’s 5 Star Thoughts~~

Have you ever read a series that triggered every emotion that you hold?  Ever read a series that not only broke your heart into a million pieces but also slowly put those pieces back together like a puzzle?  Have you ever wanted to do physical harm to a character and you honestly didn’t care what happened to them as long as it was slow and painful? Have you ever read a series that made you hold your breath waiting to read what will happen next knowing that it would probably either warm your soul or my your heart ache? Has your heart every exploded with so much joy when in the end everything falls into place and you can finally breath again?  This is that series for me, a series that left me panting for breathe but in the end had me breathing clear beautiful air that filled my lungs and warmed my soul.

So the story of Evan and Emma finally comes to its conclusion.  My heart is heavy and joyful as I sit and write this review because I know this gut wrenching, heartwarming, consuming series is over.  Sadly I was not reviewing books when I read Barely Breathing and Reason to Breath but this review alone will let you know exactly how I felt about the series as a whole.  It would be a mistake to not experience the story of Emma and Evan.  It’s a story of learning how to fight back, to let go, to live, to learn, to love, to forgive, and to learn how to breathe again.

–I chose to live.  I chose to love. I chose to breathe. – Out of Breath

Out of Breath picks up with Emma at college in California after making the decision to leave Evan behind in Weslyn and not look back.  Her decision will change her life forever.  The past can never really truly stay in the past and she finds her past haunting her and sneaking up on her until she realizes she can’t do anything but face it.

I think anyone who has read this series gave a piece of their heart to Emma because of everything she went through with her aunt and mother.  I found myself feeling heartbroken for her.  She never really gave herself enough credit for how strong she truly was throughout her life and I wanted her to realize just how amazing she truly was.  My heart broke for her all over again during Out of Breath because she truly wasn’t living; she was existing, going through the motions everyday but not fully grasping life and living it to the fullest.  I came to understand that her life truly did stop the moment she turned her back on Evan and walked out of his life.

I was introduced to a new character that I fell in love with, Cole!  He is bright, funny, sweet, caring, charming, and sexy as sin, and truly cares about Emma.  He doesn’t know her or her past and she plans on keeping it that way.  How many times can Emma push him away before he cracks? Emma is feeling again and it scares her, she likes the numbness that she has been living with and she isn’t sure she can handle “feeling” again.  Can Emma truly move on with her life with Cole?  I am not so sure she can but she deserves her happiness and maybe Cole can give her that?

“Cole?”

“Yes, Emma.”

“Will you kiss me?”

“Uh, no,” he responded bluntly.

“But I want to know if you can feel my lips,” I urged impatiently.

“Still, no.  I’m not kissing you.”

“Why?” I sulked

There was a silence for a minute.  Then he said, “Because I’m not even sure I like you.”

Emma has a new life in California, new friends, new surroundings, but the same voices haunt her day in and day out and your heart will break.  The voices will not leave her head and she finds herself wanting to feel numb all the time to make everything just stop and have quiet.  She may never find the peace but she craves the quiet.  She is broken, barely living, but everything changes one fateful day when her past comes crashing down on her and she is forced to face it, head on.

–I dug deeper into the sand and forced myself forward, needing to silence the voices that reminded me of every reason I wasn’t worthy of letting anyone get close to me.  My own voice among them.  I fought for the control that continued to evade me with each pant, but even as I stumbled to a stop, I knew I couldn’t outrun who I really was. – Out of Breath

Emma is so lost, lost in her own head not knowing what to do to come out of the darkness that has consumed her.  She is tired of fighting, tired of hurting everyone around her.  My heart broke for her over and over and over again.  Rebecca has a way of bringing you into the story and feeling Emma’s pain.  Knowing the darkness that over takes Emma every second of every day.  You want so badly to just make her life better, make everything that has every kicked her while she was down, or brought pain and suffering to her life disappear.  You want to heal her heart and save her from the evil around her and save her from herself.

–I didn’t look back.  I took that final step and disappeared over the edge.  Instantly swallowed up by the rushing wind as I plummeted toward the water.  My entire body rippled with adrenaline.  My stomach opened up as the gust of air hugged me tight, stealing my breath.  Nothing mattered in those few seconds.  Not Jonathan.  Not Evan.  Not Cole.  Not even me.  Everything was lost, and I surrendered to the stillness that overtook me. – Out of Breath

We get Evan back!  (SWOON) For me Evan is her protector, her savor, her knight in shining armor.  He is her one and only true love and that is the type of love that never truly fades away.  The love between Evan and Emma is beautiful and refreshing.  They are engraved into my heart and make my heart beat a bit faster.  It’s not always pretty but it’s true and honest and beautiful.  Evan is beautiful.  He will stop at nothing to understand Emma’s decisions of the past and get the closure he has been searching for, for years.  I found myself wanting him to fight for her and her for him.  When the actions of the present bring them face to face again everything else seems to melt away and you become solely focused on them.  Your eyes and heart are always on them.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I was coming,” I said. “I should have.”

“You should be back in Connecticut!” she yelled at me.  “You shouldn’t be here at all! Just go back!  Just…go away.” Her voice faltered as the strain of emotion broke through.

The battle that Emma struggles with in Out of Breath is beyond heartbreaking.  She doesn’t think she deserves Evan, he wants him to hate her, she needs him to hate her.  Can Evan really ever hate Emma even though the actions of their past hurt him deeply?  The emotions running through Emma when Evan is involved is beyond devastating she truly feels like she is unworthy of his love and she is so scared of hurting him again and breaking his heart more than what she already has.  I almost felt like until she stopped hating herself she would never stop wanting Evan to hate her.

“You’re supposed to hate me!” I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing or my body from shaking.  “Why don’t you hate me, Evan?!” My lip quivered.

Sara is still here, loving and looking after Emma as best as she can.  A true best friend and just what Emma and Evan needs.  She doesn’t take any crap from Evan and I love that about her.  She tells Emma like it is and helps her when needed.  She isn’t afraid of saying how she feels and all she wants is to see her best friend whole again.  She wants to fix Emma and bring the light back into her eyes.  She knows the love that Evan and Emma have for each other and she isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.

“Evan Matthews, you can tell yourself and everyone else that you’re here to get answers, for closure.  But the truth is, you love her.  You have always loved her.  You will always love her.  You’re here because you can’t walk away.  You saw how broken and empty she was back in Weslyn, and you had to follow her.  You’ll never be able to let her go.  You’re here because…it’s where you belong, with her.”

The roller coaster of emotions throughout the 420 pages of Out of Breath will take your breath away.  It will pull at every emotion you hold within yourself and leave you panting for air.  Times your heart will break, you will scream, cry, cuss, laugh, smile, and shy.  The conclusion of The Breathing Series is beyond anything I have ever read before and even though it was a struggle to read at times Rebecca made you want to read and hold onto every single word on every single page.  It will suck you in and keep a hold of you until the very end and even after.  You will never forget the story of Emma Thomason and Evan Matthews. 

Can Evan make Emma whole again?  Can he mend her broken heart and chase away all the voices and fears that haunt her?  Can Emma learn to love and forgive herself and open her heart up again to Evan?  Can Evan learn to trust Emma again with his heart?  Will Emma choose to walk away from Evan and protect him from herself in hopes of him finding the happiness he truly deserves or will Emma choose to live, to breathe, and to love Evan with her whole heart and stop hiding in the darkness of herself?

“I don’t want you to hate me. I want you to forgive me,” I gasped.  “I want you to love me again.” His eyes shone. “But I don’t know how to let you if I can’t forgive myself.” I paused, my lip trembling. “It always comes back to forgiving, doesn’t it?”