Pretty Black (Pretty Broken) by J.R. Gray

Pretty Black is the final book in the duet which tells the love story of bandmates Caspian and Iris. Get your tissues ready my friends. 

From the blurb:

Iris Black

There are moments in music when the crowd becomes part of the song and we all lose ourselves to the energy. I wanted to drown myself in the music. It became my escape and my savior.

I thought success was what I wanted, but it only intensified my misery. Fame is a monster, and it ate me alive. I tried it all to get out of my head: sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I’m living the dream, but it only numbs the pain.

Caspian came into my life like a storm, and I knew he’d leave the same way.

We were two vessels made to fit. Chemistry woven in creation.

There’s no escape, there’s no surrender.

His Pretty Black forever.

But he broke me and I don’t know how to forgive him.

Is it foolish to do it all again?

To find our way back to the place it all began.

I’ve mourned his leaving so many times, I don’t have it in me to do it again.

Jacqueleen the Reading Queen's Review:

"𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙜𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙟𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙮 𝙤𝙛 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙡𝙞𝙫𝙚𝙨. 𝙃𝙚 𝙬𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚. 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙖𝙨 𝙢𝙪𝙘𝙝 𝙢𝙪𝙨𝙞𝙘 𝙞𝙣 𝙝𝙞𝙢 𝙖𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙞𝙣 𝙮𝙤𝙪. 𝙃𝙚 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙢𝙖𝙙𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙬𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙤𝙛 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙨𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙤𝙬. 𝙊𝙛 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙝𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙡𝙤𝙬𝙨. 𝙊𝙛 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚. 𝙊𝙛 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚. 𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙤𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤𝙜𝙚𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧."

I swear I have like 10 million highlights from this book. J.R. Gray knows how to write the words. He has a knack for putting together the perfect lines to give you a punch to the gut one moment and then the next moment have you swooning with hearts in your eyes. This wasn't an easy read. It deals with difficult topics and TW are present. However, if you've made it this far into the series I'm sure you are well aware of the things that plague our Iris. Damn he breaks my heart. I shit you not I could feel my heart literally aching at certain points in this book. I was so worried something awful was going to happen that was going to send him and Cas into that dark place again.

So much pain is dealt with in this book. Yet, there was real beauty in it too. Cas is determined to be there for Iris no matter what. He's terrified their love won't be enough to keep Iris going, but he never gives up. He keeps fighting and so does Iris. There are setbacks, but there are also major steps forward. I appreciated that Gray didn't just solve all the issues of Iris' mental health with being healed by Cas' love alone. That isn't realistic. In real life working on one's mental health is a daily, sometimes lifelong battle. And it's extremely true about how needed it is to break the stigma around it. I applaud the author for bringing the spotlight onto this fact. I have a feeling Pretty Black is going to be one of those books I think about long after I've finished reading it.

"𝙄𝙩'𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙜𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙤𝙣𝙤𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙢𝙮 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙩𝙧𝙪𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙩, 𝙄𝙧𝙞𝙨 𝙍𝙤𝙨𝙚"

Rating: 5 Stars

Sheena's Review:

Book 5 in the Pretty Broken series, and the second part of Caspian and Iris' story.  Iris is such a complex character, he does merit two books.  I have really enjoyed this series, and Iris' story in particular as it's so heartbreaking.  This deals with some really difficult topics which are so very close to the author, and while it was a difficult read at times, it was ultimately eye opening and hopeful at the end.

The story is told part in present day, part in flashback but it's always clearly marked as such and I was never confused about where I was at any time.  We had hints of Iris' story before but it was good to finally see how much he's been through to get to where he is today.  While how it happened wasn't ideal, maybe meeting his Doctor and finally getting the right help and talking about things will help him in the long run.  That's not to say I forgive Alexander, he's still an utterly terrible person and deserves all the bad things that will surely come his way.  I've never wanted to see someone get their comeuppance more.

This series has been so good, so many different characters and stories and clearly very personal for the author with Iris' story.  I've loved the whole thing, and this was the icing on the cake.

Rating: 5 Stars

Pretty Black is available to buy as an ebook, paperback, or to read with Kindle Unlimited subscription.