Sever by Mary Elizabeth ~ Sarah A’s Review

Misery overstayed its welcome.

But fate will not be so easily swayed.

Gabriella Mason and Teller Reddy have walked a thin line between affection and hostility for years. The intensity that once set them on fire has ended their engagement and separated them by more than just miles.

Forced together by circumstances they never saw coming, Gabriella and Teller have no choice but to face the past that brought them together and ultimately severed them apart.

Wrecked and Damaged have collided.

This is what happens when they try to pick up the pieces.

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FREAKING FINALLY!  I have been waiting for this book for FOREVER!  Or it seems like that, at least.  It was really not quite 18 months, but I’m impatient.  Totally worth the wait.  I will tell you, if you have any doubts about your retention of the events of Closer, you should definitely do a reread, I started this book thinking it would come back to me and I was completely wrong.

Sever is the second book in Mary Elizabeth’s Closer duet.  It is NOT a standalone; it is imperative that Closer is read beforehand.  Sever jumps right in where Closer left off, with no rehashing of the events of the previous novel.  Sever is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Teller and Ella.

I still hate Ella and Teller, but I think I understand them better after reading Sever.  They are both deeply broken and volatile, each because of the neglect of a parent who was far more concerned with themselves than they were their children.  When they were together, it was a powder keg waiting for the tiniest of sparks.  They were explosive, in all ways, their love was intense, their hatred all-consuming, their destructive behaviors could devastate a small country

Teller redeemed himself a little in this book; he showed himself to have the ability to be level-headed and considerate.  Ella, however, was far more erratic and mean.  I did appreciate how Teller attempted to soothe her mind, body, and soul throughout the story.  Their relationship may have been highly unhealthy, but there was never any question about how passionately they felt toward one another.

Sever was, much like its predecessor, highly compelling.  It kept me glued to the pages; I felt uncomfortable each time I had to set it down.  It never fell into a comfortable place where I was okay with not knowing what was going to happen next.  Sever was angst-filled and didn’t give any satisfaction for a good portion of the novel.  Even in the final few chapters, there was some question as to the fate of the characters.  Those chapters made the story feel real because real-life is never filled with magical healing and happily ever afters.  Life is work, relationships are hard, and if you don’t feed them and care for them, they will disintegrate.  I’m glad every character involved was willing to put in the effort to keep their relationships whole and healthy.

Mary Elizabeth is proving herself to be a powerful wordsmith.  Both of these books made me feel EVERYTHING and feel it everywhere.  Nothing was on the surface in this series; both books were raw and real and difficult.  I love a book that makes me work for it, and these did that.  After the wild ride that was the Closer series, I can’t wait to see what Mary Elizabeth has in store for her readers.

“So,” Mili starts not-so-subtly. “Teller tells me you’re selling your dad’s house up north.”

“My realtor called me yesterday and said we received an offer. I accepted this morning.” There’s no point in hiding the disappointment that burns my eyes.

“That was fast,” she replies. Her caring, motherly tone leaves me uncomfortable. Mili Reddy has never treated me like anything less than a member of the family, but even after all this time, I can’t fully accept maternal affection. Dysfunction forced on me by my absentee mother fills the empty spaces with awkwardness and strain. “Did you think it was going to sell that quickly?”

“No,” I answer.

She nods her head. “Did you want to sell the house, Ella?”

“No,” I say. It’s the first time I’ve admitted the truth to anyone, let alone myself. My decision to return to St. Helena and sell the house was rash, and one I made without thinking. “But it’s probably for the best.”

“I heard you saw your mom,” she says thoughtfully.

A gunshot of disappointment and grief blasts through me, leaving me full of holes that expose my every fear. I’m taken back to the moment I saw the woman who brought me into the world for the first time since she abandoned her family. She looked the same but rougher around the edges. My mother, Karen Mason, has more gray hair than brown, which used to match my own. There are lines around her eyes and a filter on her face that all former drug addicts wear.

For years, I thought about what I would say if I ever saw her again, but when the moment came, I was wordless. Time stood still, and the only thought that crossed my mind as I stopped face-to-face with the past was that I wanted Teller.

“That won’t happen again now that the house sold. I won’t go back there,” I say.

Mili takes my hand, amplifying my level of freaking out. I could open the car door, jump, and run for the sake of my state of mind.

I’m messed up.

How broken does a person need to be to risk road rash than face emotional honesty?

“I can’t begin to imagine how painful that was for you, sweet girl. But do you think a conversation with her might give you closure?”

“Can I ask you a question?” I ask.

She squeezes my hand. “Yes.”

“How does a mother leave her kids?” That’s what it comes down to. I don’t have kids, and I don’t know if I can bring myself to have them after what I’ve been through, but from what I know, it’s a crime against nature to abandon the lives a person forces into the world. I didn’t ask to be born, and I didn’t ask for abandonment. I’m a victim of circumstance, and it royally screwed me up.

“Well,” she starts, letting go of my hand and returning hers to the steering wheel. “As a mother, I don’t know if I can give you the answer you’re looking for. My children are complicated beings, and I don’t always like them, but I will always love them. They could never do anything to change my mind about being their mom despite their complications.”

We come to a slow stop at a red light, and I chuckle because said complications are the understatement of the century. Maby is mad, and Teller is layered.

“I am not a perfect parent,” she continues. “I’ve contributed to the people they’ve grown to be, and I have a lot of guilt every time Maby locks herself in her room for a week at a time, or when my son chases the girl of his dreams across the state when all she wants is to be left alone.”

I scoff, and she smiles.

“There have been plenty of times when I wonder if they’d be better off without me. I understand your mother’s thought process.” Mili parks the car in front of Maby’s place. “All parents think about running away from their families during the hard times. What I don’t understand is how she decided to do it. I can’t even begin to imagine how she felt about herself to truly believe you would be better without her influence.”

“She was on drugs,” I say. “She wanted her habit more than she wanted Em and me.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” Mili takes my face in her hands. “But don’t ever question her love for you, Ella. Love for a child is not something a mother can turn off. You’re loved by so many, and I, for one, am thankful to have you in my life. I’ve watched you grow into a caring, intelligent woman who loves so hard and completely you don’t know what to do with it. That’s not a bad thing, Ella.”

“I don’t know how you can say that.” My tears run through her fingers. “With everything Teller and I have been through—”

Mili tilts her head back and laughs in the same exact way her son did earlier tonight. “Honey, my kid means the world to me, but that boy will drive the sanest person insane. I don’t think anyone blames you for slapping him around sometimes.”

“You can’t be serious.” I roll my tear-filled eyes.

She unbuckles her seat belt and opens the car door, letting in the cold night’s air. With one foot on the pavement, she looks over her shoulder and says, “I’m only half-serious. You guys drive me wild. Get it together.”

We spend the rest of the night in a blur of exfoliations and girl talk. I cringe when Nic gossips about her sex life with Emerson and swoon with Mili when she reminisces romantic moments with Theodore, who’s normally a hard ass. As they talk about how much they adore the men in their lives, substantial longing lodges my heart into my throat. It drowns out our conversation to a low hum, and I am restless.

Mili pats my thigh and whispers, “Are you okay?”

Nodding slightly, I’m claustrophobic under my charcoal face mask and blocked between Maby and her mom.

“I’ll be right back.” I grab my cell phone from the coffee table in front of me, knocking over my champagne flute, and escape to the backyard.

I can breathe under the stars, but I can’t escape the reality of what I’ve done: overreacted. Teller should’ve been honest with me, but I shouldn’t have destroyed the life we were only beginning to create together. If there’s one thing Teller has given me since the first moment we met, it’s unconditional devotion. In return, I accepted him no matter what.

Until I didn’t.

My hands tremble as I pull up his number, and my heart doubles, triples in size as it rings.

And it completely stops when he doesn’t answer.

Gabriella Mason is damaged.

Teller Reddy is wrecked.

Misery loves company, and that’s exactly what Ella gets the afternoon her path crosses with Teller’s: the misunderstood premed student who instantly becomes her lifeline when she moves to Los Angeles, an attempt at escaping her heartbreaking past.

In the beginning, Lonely and Defensive complete each other. But in the end, their relationship is like broken glass—cutthroat and jagged.

Calling it off before they kill each other, Ella and Teller decide to “just be friends” despite the intensity that binds them together. It’s a delicate foundation rocked by tragedy, effectively destroying the illusion they’ve so carefully built.

Unable to deny what’s between them any longer, this is what happens when wrecked and damaged collide and close is still not close enough.

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Mary Elizabeth is an up and coming author who finds words in chaos, writing stories about the skeletons hanging in your closets.

Mary was born and raised in Southern California. She is a wife, mother of four beautiful children, and dog tamer to one enthusiastic Pit Bull and a prissy Chihuahua. She’s a hairstylist by day but contemporary fiction, new adult author by night. Mary can often be found finger twirling her hair and chewing on a stick of licorice while writing and rewriting a sentence over and over until it’s perfect. She discovered her talent for tale-telling accidentally, but literature is in her chokehold. And she’s not letting go until every story is told.

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