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Shadows You Left

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  69 ratings  ·  40 reviews

The white picket fence.
The happily-ever-after.
That life was never meant for him.
For years he’s been bouncing from city to city—from one cage fight to another.
That’s his outlet. That’s pain Erik can control.
But in Seattle, everything changed.
River’s an artist.
He’s a pretty boy.
He does yoga.
Someone so soft shouldn’t be intrigued by Erik’s rough edges.


His life was qu
Kindle Edition, 350 pages
Published May 20th 2019 by Entangled Embrace
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  69 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Dark, dramatic, and gritty!

Shadows You Left is a sultry, character-driven romance that takes you on a journey into the lives of Erik and River, two tormented and tortured souls who together discover the comfort, solace, and unconditional love they each need to battle all their internal demons.

The prose is poetic and enticing. The characters are consumed, damaged, and impulsive. And the plot told from alternating POVs is a somber tale of friendship, family, addiction, hope, patience, violence, gr
Feb 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
ETA (6/15/2020): Downgrading my original rating and deleting the review due to Taylor Brooke's abusive behavior toward BIPOC folks.
You know how sometimes you read a book and at the beginning, middle, end, and after, you just.. don't even know how you feel? Did I hate this? Like it? Tolerate it?

Thus my experience with SHADOWS YOU LEFT.

This is definitely angsty and.. well, yeah. Angsty.

That's all I got.
Leigh Kramer
ETA 6/16/20: Due to recent revelations about Taylor Brooke’s harmful and abusive behavior toward BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people, I no longer recommend their books. I am allowing the review to stand for transparency but I am clearing the star rating. I do want to note that I still support Jude Sierra's writing and am sorry that she's been impacted by this.

Taylor Brooke and Jude Sierra are a dream team. Gorgeous prose, richly developed characters, and a captivating plot had me glued to the pages. No matt
Ela The Queer Bookish
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: do-read, favorites
It's so rough but so poetic at the same time.

I suspected I'm in for a treat when I received this book. A tough-to-swallow-but-so-worth-it-treat. I was right - only I didn't know how tough as well as how worth it would be.

Mind the content warnings, dear readers (also yay for content warnings though I'm not surprised those two authors gave warnings for their book).

I was not able to read Shadows You left in one go - but I didn't want to do that anyway. Instead I enjoyed it while taking reading brea
Leelah🍁♋️ Orion
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: m-m
Raw, deep, metaphoric. That was this book. 2 men learning to get through their past hurts and traumas so that they can be with the person they love. Learning to love even with your and their baggage. This book had you cheering for both MC’s through their struggles and wanting so hard for them to make it on the other side so they would be together. This is not a fluff book. Both characters have to dig deep and open themselves up to the possibility of love. And watching them is a struggle at times ...more
Jan 31, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
DNF @ 6%.

I guess when I glanced over the blurb, I missed where Erik was a cage fighter. I don't like reading book with bloodsports, be it boxing, muay thai, MMA, etc.

But what killed it for me, and drove me nuts for two days was that River thinks that Erik smells like leather and vanilla.I would love to be a MC in a MM romance so that I, too, can smell of leather, vanilla, sugar, spice & everything nice. But,I find it hard to believe that a guy who lives above a Thai restaurant and shares their
Bette Hansen
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent! The characters in this M/M contemporary romance are intriguing and captivating. River and Eric are two broken souls who are rocked by their attraction to each other. It is unexpected, intense, and swift. They both have secrets and pasts they don't want to talk or think about and each has handled their pasts very differently. They shouldn't work but they definitely do. The chemistry between them jumps from the pages. I enjoyed their story very much and would definitely recommend it to ...more
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: m-m, faves, kink, sports, angst
Listen, this book is poetry about the pain of love and loss. This book is visceral, bloody, and achingly sweet. I loved it. It’s a romance that’s dark because life is sometimes dark and not because it’s trying to be edgy.
Loved it!

(Fighter books are such a weak spot for me!!! Also, I would’ve lost my shit in the best way if River had been trans. Alas, only in my wishes)
I found Shadows You Left to be a rather slow read that took a while for me to really become engaged.

Content warnings include: alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, emotional abuse and gaslighting, semi-explicit sex on-page that occasionally gets quite rough, anxiety, panic attack; mentions of death through overdose, eating disorder, child abuse, cheating.

I expected it to be quite dark and gritty, but for me it mostly... wasn't?
Shadows You Left deals with quite a few heavy topics, with both Riv
Suz Jay
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
“But River saw now, so clearly, that Erik was broken…perhaps still breaking. He was the light and the dark, the chiaroscuro of poison and loss and anger, and under it all, a terrible need for love. Perhaps it was ego, then, because River wanted Erik to want love. Specifically, his.”*

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Running from his past, fighting, and drugs are all Erik knows until he meets his sexy new tattoo artist. River is i
Nicole Field
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This was a difficult read for me, not just because of the drugs and the fighting--although there were copious amounts of both--but because a big part of the storyline was Erik unknowingly triggering River's unresolved issues with his alcoholic mother.

Both of these characters are very broken when they come into each other's lives. River is a tattooist whose mother has been trying to contact him (again) for money for her rent, but she swears that she's sober! And Erik...

Erik has been running from
K.D. Nox
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really, really enjoyed this book. I won an arc and It’s a solid four stars from me. The writing is beautiful and lyrical, River and Erik have such visceral chemistry that I was rooting for them from the jump.

Their first kiss was one of the best I’ve read in a while, and their connection was so utterly believable.
Erik’s self destruction and his shame and guilt for what happened in his past was painful to read, and it grew a little frustrating to be kept in the dark for quite so long to find o
Suzi (Obsessive Reading Disorder)
DNF at 50%

This was a tough read for me. I found myself putting it down several times. There just is really no plot tow this. The main characters-Erik and River have some huge issues. they find each other. They have sex--have some time apart. Have sex again. The authors just kept giving us the daily lives of these two without much more thought to it than that. I was bored. I did make it to 50% before I stopped.

Not for me.

*Complimentary copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.
Ntokozo M
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
A trip!

I really enjoyed this but I also found that the way some parts were written had me a bit muddled. I think that might be how the characters were feeling at the time - fighting through their many motivations so I can’t exactly say that was a bad thing. I just wanted them to get to a place where they were both at peace so bad and that’s what kept me reading. It’s insane to think that out of such suffering and hurt, something beautiful can arise. I loved all the dragon imagery and stories abo
Moony MeowPoff
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Got this at Netgalley!

This was honestly a perfect M/M love story, i loved River and Erik and their journey to get to know and love each other. Just so perfect and good! Jude Sierra and Taylor Brooke know how to capture a reader!
Raz Jayden
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Artfully crafted, heart wrenching, and heart warming queer romance. Jude Sierra and Taylor Brooke have created two fully fledged, complex characters whose relationship is just as layered as they are. The prose absolutely SINGS off the page, and the Seattle setting felt so real I could have sworn it was raining outside while I read! SHADOWS YOU LEFT is an angsty, emotional, queer love story that allows its characters to be real and messy and complicated. If you love romance with a bit of an edge, ...more
3,5 stars

This book gave me mixed feelings. The first half of the book was really slow. They started out as maybe some kind of friends with benefits, but they weren't really friends. But even though they had a lot of sex the sex scenes was really tame and I just needed more from that half of the book. It was full of emotions, doubt, self-hate, pain, passion and so much more but it was a little confusing and I needed a little more. It just didn't catch me as much as it should and I really started
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mm, reviews
3.5 stars rounded up

The first thing that drew me to this book was that one of the characters did yoga since I do yoga as well. Once I began reading, I did truly love the characters. Both River and Erik were really well developed and I could understand the reasons behind their thoughts and actions and feelings. It gave a really intimate tinge to the book. I really liked that the both River and Erik actually began communicating and putting in the work for a relationship instead of just holding in
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

The proper word to describe this romance is “angsty.”

The main characters both have baggage, and a lot of it. Erik is a cage fighter whose fights serve as a sort of penance for a tragic event in his past for which he blames himself. He commemorates his wins with tattoos, and that’s how he meets tattoo artist River. The two of them are immediately attracted to each other, but Erik’s moods and secretiveness worry River, who has a history of codependent relationships with his addict mother
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Drama, Intensity, Dark Past!!

Erik is on the run from his past. Never settling in one place, he cannot come to terms with what happened. Fighting is his thing... but don't mistake it for a boxing match! He is into cage fighting for high stakes and no rules! Multiple times a week, he gets into the cage at the darkest clubs in Seattle to earn his living the rough way. When he's not fighting, he's an average (ok... below average) bartender!
River is a tattoo artist with a sweet face and invi
3.5 stars? I love Jude Sierra's books normally, so it was interesting to see what was the same and what was different in this collaboration. It has the same crystal clear, realistic characterizations of messy people embroiled in all their issues and fucked up pasts. It has the same awkward start that had me threatening to DNF, before settling into something beautifully full and intimate.

Things that were different- the pacing was better. There were fewer moments of confusion about what the autho
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, queer-men
*I received a copy of Shadows You Left via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Shadows You Left by Jude Sierra and Taylor Brooke is a New Adult romance novel that is difficult to describe. It is intensely character-driven; the back copy, in fact, consists essentially of brief, poetic descriptions of our two main characters, Erik and River, with no mention of a plot other than “Erik and River are both trying to escape a shadowed past”. That sounds like an active focus, doesn’t it? But real
DNF ~33%. Normally I give one-star ratings to DNFs, but since I really think this is more of a personal preference, and less about the book being terrible, I'm going to leave off a rating.

I really wanted to like this one, but it just wasn't working for me. It wasn't necessarily bad, it just really didn't capture my interest, and considering that the book is on the long side, I just couldn't commit to finishing it. A lot of people seemed to love the writing style here, but I thought it felt a lit
May 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Erik asks River to give him a tattoo. They find they are both attracted and try to see where it goes. This is hard for Erik since he is often moving around and has trouble with trust.

River does not want to get his hopes up. He knows Erik is struggling to define himself. River normally sticks to his routine, however, his longing for Erik puts him at a whole new level.

This book has so much in it. These characters are seriously in need of one another. The story can be dark at times. I actually like
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5 stars for this story because it not only made me feel, but it made me think too. Mostly about the influence over others, that which we've experienced and that which we've exerted. When does it become harmful and when should we listen? Where is that fine line between knowing our own mind and having no insight regarding what guides our decisions? Erik and River seem to get tangled up in that and the secrets they feel they must keep. But here's the thing - when they get untagged a little bit, the ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was so excited to receive this book for review! I was immediately drawn in by the beautiful writing style and instantly fell in love with Erik and River, despite their flaws. I would absolutely read more of their story if it were ever available. It was a classic tale of will they, won't they and it brought on all the feels and all the angst. Both characters came with a ton of baggage and I enjoyed watching them try to navigate through their feelings for each other while also trying to work thr ...more
Robin Barletta
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sometimes you're just in the mood for something majorly angsty, and this hits the mark. Erik cut himself off from anyone who cared about him following his best friend's overdose, and now works as a bartender/underground cage fighter without putting down any real roots anywhere. But he meets tattoo artist River, who is dealing with his own issues with an alcoholic mother, and they form a connection that starts off raw and passionate, with a lot of pain and tenderness all mixed up together. It gro ...more
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a great book. It was passionate, thought-provoking, edgy and I loved the main characters. The supporting cast was great too! I loved Jadis!!

This book isn't a smooth ride... it's difficult in parts. I can see how it would be real challenging and potentially triggering book for some folks. For me... It was a pleasure. The characters were so well thought out, realistic and imperfect. I love that.

The prose is smooth and almost poetic sometimes, without being over-the-top.

I loved it.
Teach Gleek
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed devouring this.

River and Erik's story is two broken people finding something they didn't even know they wanted from what was supposed to be a one night stand. Brooke and Sierra are both excellent writers in their own right, and this team project is a seamless weaving of perception, points of view, and emotion that pulls in the reader and won't let go, much like these men do to each other. An angsty tale with a hopefully ever after that is a fantastic read.
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Taylor Brooke Barton (they/she) is a traveling story-teller, occult fanatic, and a science fiction junkie.

They worked as a special effects makeup artist for many years before they wrote their first book. When they're not writing, they're exploring the Pacific Northwest, backpacking, or reading. They write #ownvoices Queer books about love, secrets and magic.

Their New Adult titles are listed as Ta

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