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To the first boy I ever loved.
I intended to keep my promises to you. I swear. I loved you, Matthew Caldwell. With my whole heart. I think a piece of me will always love you.
But it all came crashing down when I realized you didn’t keep your promises to me.
I refuse to take any of my days for granted. I learned that the hard way.
So I’m sorry. But I can’t keep my promises to someone who didn’t keep theirs.

-Brooklyn Sanders

371 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 10, 2022

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About the author

Ivy Smoak

64 books6,487 followers
Ivy Smoak is the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Hunted Series. Her books have sold over 2 million copies worldwide.

When she's not writing, you can find Ivy binge watching too many TV shows, taking long walks, playing outside, and generally refusing to act like an adult. She lives with her husband in Delaware.

Learn more about Ivy on:
Reader Groupbit.ly/IvySmoakGroup
Join Ivy Smoak's newsletter for a sexy FREE story and exclusive material: https://www.ivysmoak.com/newsletter

Empire High
Untouchable (Empire High, #1) by Ivy Smoak Elite (Empire High, #2) by Ivy Smoak Betrayal (Empire High, #3) by Ivy Smoak Matchmaker (Empire High, #4) by Ivy Smoak Runaway (Empire High, #5) by Ivy Smoak

The Hunted & Light to My Darkness
Temptation (The Hunted, #1) by Ivy Smoak Addiction (The Hunted, #2) by Ivy Smoak Eruption (The Hunted, #3) by Ivy Smoak Devotion (The Hunted, #4) by Ivy Smoak
The Light to My Darkness (The Light to My Darkness #1) by Ivy Smoak A Whirlwind of Color (The Light to My Darkness #2) by Ivy Smoak This Is Love (The Light to My Darkness #3) by Ivy Smoak

Made of Steel
Made of Steel (Made of Steel, #1) by Ivy Smoak Forged in Flames (Made of Steel #2) by Ivy Smoak Carved in Ice (Made of Steel #3) by Ivy Smoak

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5 stars
3,429 (65%)
4 stars
999 (19%)
3 stars
476 (9%)
2 stars
159 (3%)
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154 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 749 reviews
March 26, 2022

Worth the wait!

The following ratings are out of 5:
Romance: 💛🖤💜💚❤️
Heat/Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
Story/Plot: 📕📗📘📙📔
World building: 🌎🌍🌏🌎🌏
Character development: 😳☺️🤫😍😎

I am doing this review in a bit of a different format than I usually do since I don’t want to give too much away about this story. I will give away a bit about where the previous books left off, so if you haven’t read them yet, you may want to skip this review.

Brooklyn Sanders was in love with Matthew Caldwell and they got in a fight because she was hanging out with the Hunter Brothers in an attempt to get them to let go of old hostilities against Matt and be best friends again. They played a prank on Brooklyn’s psychotic half-sister Isabelle and Matt left saying she had gone too far. Before she could do anything to make up with Matt, her father basically stole her Kidney.

All her friends think she died, her father is a monster who tricked her into signing a contract to give him her Kidney, and is now hiding her away supposedly for her own good, while just about everyone she knows believes her to be dead. It is sixteen years until she gets back to her friends.

I never liked Matt. I thought he was weak in that he kept Brooklyn a secret for a long time because he was being blackmailed by Isabelle. His reasoning that he was protecting his best friend James from the truth was stupid to say the least and his treatment of Brooklyn was far from stellar.

However, I did start to like Matt a bit more in the last book, but I liked him for Kennedy. I still think he is unworthy of Brooklyn, especially considering all that happened to her. With her mother dying, then her uncle, then her psychotic half sister tormenting her, and her mobbed up father who is just as crazy as Isabell. I think Brooklyn deserves a real Hero.

Did she get one in this book? I am not going to tell. I will tell you that I enjoyed the book. It was a bit depressing at times, but it was also inspirational in ways and the story certainly pulled me in. Brooklyn has always been a strong character and even when she was in high school and so in love with Matt when I thought she should dump him, she had her own principles and he was what she needed at the time.

In this book Brooklyn finds herself which is the ultimate strength. Determining what you actually want out of life and going after it.

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

Profile Image for Lynsey Astbury.
26 reviews2 followers
March 12, 2022

I recieved an accidental arc for this book and it has left me feeling devastated. I am a hard-core Mattlyn fan and this book is definitely not something that mattlyn fans will love.
I advise all mattlyn fans to be prepared as this is brooklyns love story, but its not with Matt.
I found this to be a really upsetting read. I will not be continuing this series, this is the end of the road for me.
I feel that this book was written to try to justify matt and Kennedy.
I just can't see how an author would go so drastically against what their fans wanted.
You will find out who Jacobs parents are you will see how heartbroken Brooklyn is. This book for me has ruined the whole series even if Mattlyn get a HEA at the end it just doesn't sit right with me.
Seing Brooklyn fall in love with someone else is heartbreaking and has gutted me. Also there is no Matt and Brooklyn interaction at all so if you are hoping for that then you will not get it.
I also find all the teasers posted for this book are so misleading as they are in no way related to Mattlyn but Brooklyns new love.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kursed Reads.
436 reviews1,488 followers
March 10, 2022
Such an apt title. Brooklyn is notorious for running away from her problems both metaphorically and physically.

Still running, Empire High series book 5 brings us to Brooklyn recounting the days following her “death.”

Over time, Brooklyn finds happiness, but can never completely move on. Forever looking for the ghosts over her shoulder and fighting the demons of her past, she knows deep down they’re not gone, just in hiding.

Honestly, I’m not sure how to write this review without giving too much away. There were still some moments when I wanted to strangle Brooklyn, but I was so pleased with her growth and maturation. Even though I’m still ruminating with my feelings, all said, this was my favorite of the series.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Emotions: 🤬😳🙄😍😭
Burn: 🔥🔥🔥
Heat: 🌶🌶1/2

🗂 Genre: Contemporary Romance

⚠️ Safety Squad: (Fleeting) SuicidåI Thoughts, Miscarriage (Off-Page)

📣 Runaway is book five in the Empire High series and ends on a cliffhanger.
3 reviews1 follower
March 7, 2022
**Spoiler Alert** As a diehard Mattlyn fan this book was a depressing novel to me which once again gets off track to the original beautifully anticipated Matt and Brooklyn HEA and felt like just another rabbit hole away from where the series started out in the first 3 books. I truly hated that aspect of EHR and definitely felt as a diehard Mattlyn fan having to read a love story between Brooklyn and a man that is not Matt takes away from the Empire High series. I respect others that loved it so please respect my right to have an opinion and not like it. I was able to get an advance copy to read because the author and ARC team accidentally sent out a copy. I call that Karma for their bullying of devoted Mattlyn fans. So this review is genuinely 100% honest.
Profile Image for DME.
41 reviews29 followers
March 10, 2022
This book is so off track from the established timeline set up in other books, if you are a Mattlyn fan, I don't know how you will not be disappointed. This review will be a total spoiler so if you care, stop now... :Disclaimer: I know an author can write any kind of book they want. And I as a reader can review it for its content anyway I want. Take the spoiler warning seriously....

So I'm going to start my review at the end with the Author's note from Ivy. She states that this is the most selfish book she has ever written and I have to agree. She writes that she lives in a bubble with her husband and while she never intended to write this book the way she ended up doing, she couldn't stop herself from wanting to give Miller more... In doing so, she basically sells Brooklyn, Matt, Miller and every single fan of any of them completely short. Not to mention, every teaser where she alluded to Matt and Brooklyn was really about Miller. Matt has no voice in this book. The entire thing is in Brooklyn's point of view. Before I get into the actual book, let me preface that while I am a Mattlyn fan, after book 4 of the series, I definitely would have been okay with the scenario that Brooklyn picks Miller. However this is NOT how it should have went down... We start off right after the end of book 3. Daddy P did in fact take her kidney and has faked her death. No one knows she is still alive. She is shipped off with only Miller as her body guard. Miller is 22 I believe and Brooklyn is 16 and a sophmore in High School. Right after her Dad fakes her death, he shows her photos of the boys looking happy, Kennedy is sitting with Felix and Matt with his arm around some girl. The book is only Brooklyn's pov. Miller is Brooklyn's only support. Eventually Brooklyn is able to plan their escape from her Dad and She sets up a lake house for Miller and intends to go back to Matt. She dyes her hair and heads back to New York where she sees Matt having sex in his pool with someone. She sits in the dirt crying then goes to the tree house at James' and lies on the floor crying looking at the photos of the boys growing up. She never sees or talks to anyone and definitely doesn't confront Matt. She then heads out to California with her fake ID and lives alone for a few months working as a waitress and a housekeeper. She's of course lonely and hurt and decides why shouldn't she be with Miller. Remember, Matt doesn't care anything about her as we will hear time and time again, even though B knows he thinks she is dead. She decides she may as well go back and joins Miller at the lake house. I have read reviews calling this book joyous and a beautiful love story, but I definitely don't see it. Poor B has lost EVERY SINGLE PERSON SHE HAS EVER CARED ABOUT! Matt's crappy way of dealing with his grief destroys her and so she seriously spends the next 16 years thinking Matt doesn't care anyway. Guess she may as well be with Miller. This is what she tells herself with every single step forward she takes with him.. Oh they live their bubble life, and I will admit Miller does love her, but at most for B, it is clearly a default relationship... by writing them into this "Bubble" B never experiences ANY relationships of ANY kind outside of Miller. It borders on stockholm syndrome and I truly believe Miller deserved more... eventually they get "married" in their back yard as again, they live in the bubble and can't get legally married. Brooklyn gets pregnant and they have Jacob from Scarlett's novella.

A couple of years go by and she has a miscarriage. After a bit she does want to try again, but is unable to conceive. I swear this girl has had to experience almost every crappy thing life can throw at a woman! She seems to be struggling with depression, but it isn't talked about... IMO the bubble they live in keeps Brooklyn from any kind of realistic growth. She is basically just surviving with only Miller and eventually Jacob. B ends up getting what Miller thinks is paranoid and she thinks she sees Isabella. This prompts Miller to put a Google alert on Isabella's name. You think this would have been done on everyone back when they first ran away... but what would I know about living in a bubble? 🙄 Anyway, they find out Isabella is dead. Until then, Brooklyn has never looked them up which I find strange but "bubble" remember? At this time Miller does asks her if she would want to know about all of them. She does see that James married Isabella and wonders what the heck happened, but tells Miller she doesn't want to know anything about them. 😳 a few more years go by and a storm disables their alarms and Miller is late for his job as a cook at a diner. B's car is blocking his truck. He goes to move her car and B and 4 year old Jacob watch as he is blown up. It's very descriptive and I will say this part of the book was heart breaking. B grabs Jacob and they run to Kennedy. Somewhere along the way B did consult an attorney as she wants Kennedy's Mom to raise Jacob if something happens to her. She is sure that her Dad is behind the car explosion and plans to kill him. Poor B, who at this point just lost what she had decided was her written in the stars love, and who has to be borderline crazy by this point, ends up at Kennedy's front door as many of us suspected. We are now at the end of book 4. B tells Kennedy she is so sorry and Kennedy says she is sorry too, but doesn't say what she is sorry for. B asks them to keep Jacob. She tells them if she isn't back in an hour, to read the note she is leaving and they will understand everything. She jumps in a taxi and leaves. I mean I definitely don't expect a girl who's basically emotionally arrested at the age of 16 thanks to everything she has been through, to make great decisions, but wow...The book ends with her arrival at Daddy P's front door. There are some other things that bothered me a bit. There is a scene where B is 17 and Miller is 23 and involves the word "skeet" that was a little cringe. Miller continued to call her kid even after they are sexually involved and B likes it because it reminds her of her uncle calling her kiddo 😳 Jacob hates clothes from birth and on his first birthday has stripped them off and makes "the face" letting his parents know he has to go to the bathroom. Miller runs but he doesn't quite make it and Jacob tells his Mom sorry he had an accident... At 1...Also, because he doesn't like to wear clothes, especially shirts, when he gets a little older he thinks he is an "Indian". You know because Native Americans don't like to wear clothing...🙄 Since TSSP joked about rape and insulted the lbgtq community, I guess I shouldn't be so surprised. Those holding out for a mattlyn hea... I'm not sure how Brooklyn comes back from all this trauma and Matt recovers from the fact he never truly moved on and denied himself a family for 16 years within the 6 month time frame referred to in Tanner's novella. Whatever does happen, I feel Brooklyn was loved but denied growth and has to be suffering from PTSD. Miller was a default, because "Matt didn't care" and Matt is going to be horrified at the very least. Ivy didn't "destroy" us as readers, she destroyed her own characters. Since Miller is out of the picture, I know many are hopeful again for Mattlyn in book 6, but how is Brooklyn going to remotely be ready to walk down the aisle in the established timeline? And Matt forgives her for not coming forward before giving the rest of her firsts to Miller? Where will Kennedy come in? Ivy's "selfish need" to tell this story has really left everyone screwed. IF this book was a stand alone, I would feel alot different, but the fact remains it isn't and Ivy's blown her timeline, her characters and story up along with Miller.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ivy Smoak.
Author 64 books6,487 followers
May 10, 2022


Ah it's finally here! And I can't wait to see what you think of the next installment of Empire High ❤

Grab your copy today for FREE in Kindle Unlimited:
Amazon US > https://amzn.to/3mqoDb7
Amazon International > mybook.to/EHRunaway
Hardback > https://amzn.to/35llHWN
Paperback > https://amzn.to/3GiKI1r
Alternate notebook cover paperback > https://amzn.to/3Hb8ixu

To the first boy I ever loved.

I intended to keep my promises to you. I swear. I loved you, Matthew Caldwell. With my whole heart. I think a piece of me will always love you.

But it all came crashing down when I realized you didn’t keep your promises to me.

I refuse to take any of my days for granted. I learned that the hard way.

So I’m sorry. But I can’t keep my promises to someone who didn’t keep theirs.

-Brooklyn Sanders

Are you freaking out as much as I am?

Don't forget to add it to your Goodreads TBR: https://bit.ly/3Eh7KF8

Also if you're a TikToker, Bookstagrammer, or Blogger, it would mean the world to me if you'd like to participate in any of the Runaway release events. You can sign up here > https://forms.gle/Sb6dRMfkys98EFNQ6
1 review
March 6, 2022
If this was a standalone book I would have rated it much differently. However knowing it’s part of the EH series it’s devastating and completely derails Brooklyn & Matt’s love story.

Ivy destroys many of their “firsts” and portrays Matt quite frankly as a loser in this book which isn’t fair.

Their love story will have a nearly impossible hurdle to overcome at this point. Also I expected a lot more drama with her dad or the mob or someone and there’s nothing. I expected more, it fell short.

This book was not needed in the series.
546 reviews44 followers
December 31, 2021
I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to write this review.

Ivy knocked this book out. This book is absolutely brilliant. Don't worry Ivy will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions like she always does. Buckle up

A million stars on this one! It's a beautiful story and I promise it's worth the wait. ♥️♥️
Profile Image for Sandra .
6 reviews
March 10, 2022
You know the TikTok that goes “It is so bad, I want to give you a 0, but that’s not possible so I give you a 1.” That’s how I feel right now rating EHR. Highly disappointed with this storyline. It’s disgusting. I said what I said.

March 8, 2022
**Spoiler Alert**. Both my wife and I are huge Mattlyn fans. Go Team Mattlyn! I think my wife Hated EHR even more than I did if that’s possible. Her reasons for not liking it are not the same as mine. EHR is weirdly placed in the middle of the EH series just like EHM was and instead of focusing on what many fans have asked for (a Mattlyn love story) the author admits at the end of EHR she wrote EHR to satisfy her own selfish desires. I lose faith in an author that stops writing for her fans because she needs to drag Brooklyn down to the same muck level she did with Matt in EHM to justify the Matt and Kennedy trash in EHM. I buy a book an author writes for their fan base and not for self-serving needs they may feel. All I am going to say is this is a Brooklyn and Miller love story that in no way creates good vibes for a Matt and Brooklyn HEA. Reading EHR left me feeling the same kind of rage I felt after reading EHM and I don’t read a HEA novel so I can be left hurt and angry after reading it. This might have been a good book if it was a stand alone non Empire High related book, but sadly the author seems unaware or uncaring that this novel only takes away from the Matt and Brooklyn love story. I would not be surprised if Book 6 is a Brooklyn and Felix love story because this author seems to enjoy writing anything except a continuing Matt and Brooklyn love story.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sara.
39 reviews3 followers
March 11, 2022
Absolute garbage. What happened to the original plot of the story?

The whole big thing in the FIRST THREE BOOKS were Brooklyn giving Matt all her first.

Ivy literally wrote this book because she didn’t like the team Brooklyn girls and she wanted to piss them off.

This book should come with a trigger warning. This is child grooming. Miller is older and Brooklyn always ran to him when things went wrong with Matt. She made it clear she loved Matt. He literally groomed her into falling in love with him. It’s disgusting.

This book is trash. Only Ivy could take an amazing series and make it this bad.

She doesn’t possess the capability to write strong characters.

Her dumb love triangle and miscommunication plots are over used.

Ivy is a wash up.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Gmama.
5 reviews2 followers
March 11, 2022
This book was such a letdown I don’t even know where to begin. I feel like there was so many better angles this author could’ve gone with but decided on the worse one. I wasn’t excited to read this book after how Matchmaker turned out but I thought it couldn’t get worse than that right?! Ivy said, “Hold my beer” and came out with this book! To all the people giving this book 5 stars and calling this a sweet love story, ya’ll were all wearing beer goggles the whole time reading this entire book.

First of all, I hated the way her father was portrayed. The fact that he actually took her kidney and faked her death because he interpreted her words literally about getting her out of there was unnecessary. It should’ve been as simple as just keeping her away from Isabella. To me her father is this over protective paranoid dad who wanted to keep her out of harms way the way he knew how. He tried to control the situation by lying to her about how happy everyone was without her so she can move on for the time being. Yes, he had Miller beat up but if your vulnerable 16 years old child is getting noticed by your 22 years old employee, wouldn’t you want to make an example out of him in front of the other employees to not touch your daughter. It’s terrible but you can’t expect anything less from a mafia boss father.

Moving on to Miller and how he basically did what Mr. Pruitt intended to do to Brooklyn. It was just a sugar coated version of Mr. P’s plan! He kept Brooklyn for himself the whole time and the “bubble” was the same as what her father was trying to do to her. Miller was just sneaky enough to use love and his body to lure and keep Brooklyn. He had a way with words so that every wrong thing that came Brooklyn’s way he responded with what she needed to hear. He got her to trust him because it was easy to do so when her father was more the image of a villain. He was able to get her to love him along the way because at her lowest, he made sure to be her only savior and source of love which Brooklyn craved throughout the book. She was told everyone was happier without her so it meant they didn’t care and love her enough so here comes Miller who chose to be in this situation with her made him the knight and shining armor. This got her to keep going back to him everytime. If that’s not a form of grooming then I don’t know what to tell you.

I was not sold on their so called “love story” because of how it came about. Brooklyn chose Matt again the way she did before. Unfortunately Matt couldn’t keep it in his pants longer and pushed Brooklyn to Miller’s waiting arms. No matter how you spin it, Brooklyn only chose Miller because she was hurt by Matt’s actions. Matt didn’t wait but Miller did so she chose to leave her life with Matt behind and move forward with someone who’s been there the whole time. The fact that he did everything right and said all the right words made her decision to pick Miller easier. She felt loved in their little “bubble” or what she first called it her cage because he was there providing her what she needed. Her feelings for him was borderline Stockholm syndrome at best. He may not have kidnapped her but he kept her away from society. There was so many red flags with this man that it baffles me how many people love his character. First, she was only 16 and he was 22 when they met and he was already obsessed with her then. Miller latched on to her in a subtle way and made himself available whenever people disappointed Brooklyn. This man also slept with her when she was only 17. Yikes! And what’s up with him calling her kid the whole time? Who did he think he was… Mr Big?

Yes, he seem like he truly loved her but in an unhealthy way, borderline obsession. There was this part where he was pissed that Brooklyn gave her virginity to Matt and wished Brooklyn gave all her firsts to him instead. Hello, Matt claimed all that before even Brooklyn agreed and before Miller came in the picture. Then there was this part where Brooklyn kept saying “I Love You” and he wouldn’t return it back. He waited until she was practically begging for him to say it back to return the words. I swear he liked the control. He didn’t even let her get a job on her own but hey he got her a baking job from where he worked. Where she can bake at home and just deliver the baked good to the restaurant.

This book had so many holes in it that I just had this confused face the entire time I was reading this book. You’re telling me a ruthless mafia boss who was capable of faking 2 deaths and hiding them from everyone couldn’t track where these two went? You’re telling me Brooklyn stole millions, bought a house, and rented 2 cars but couldn’t buy a burner phone to call Matt? After making it a priority that her father contact Matt in front of her. That’s nonsense!

There was so many "what ifs" from both parties where all of this drama could've been avoided. What if Matt just answered the calls. What if he just dealt with his grieve in a healthier way and not slept around right away. What if Brooklyn just confronted him in the backyard instead of leaving.

I swear the only thing that made sense in this book was Ivy admitting that she was selfish for writing this book this way but not because of her reason about being in a “bubble”. She wrote the book this way and slapped it in the middle of the series because she needed to justify the mistakes she wrote in Matchmaker. If you don’t see how parts of this book mirrored the mistakes Ivy wrote about Matt and Kennedy in Matchmaker then I don’t know what to tell you. She wanted this great love for Brooklyn to overshadow the way she wrote Matt with Kennedy because people weren’t happy with it. It’s unfortunate that this book single handedly cheapen what Brooklyn had with Matt and takes away from what they may have in the future because at the end of the day, Miller was with her for 16 years compared to what Brooklyn described as 1 season with Matt. RIP Mattlyn it died alongside Brooklyn in book 3. Even if this is endgame, it’s already tainted!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
8 reviews1 follower
March 12, 2022
Not the direction ì wanted this book to go so disappointed.unsure if I will read the rest of the series. I will wait to see the reviews on book 6 before I decide. It's like you wanted to rip out our hearts and drive over them so sad. Seeing brooklyn fall for miller almost killed me. I do have to mention the word skeet makes me feel so sick please use another word it's just awful. I changed my rating gave 4 stars it's not badly written I just would prefer mattlyn. Hopefully one day it works out but then I would feel bad for Miller he loved her and always put her first it would feel like she was sullying his memory. #mattlyn 4 ever.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
3 reviews
March 10, 2022
I loved and hated this.

***This review does have spoilers***
*This review is my personal opinion*

I loved Millers character, and he needed his HEA, but not like this. He could have had a standalone book for his love story and that would have been a hit. A lot of people love Miller but to do him like this in this book makes the series a trainwreck now. If you are looking at a Matt and Brooklyn's HEA, then I don't know what to tell you..it could happen..but it would be so unrealistic for the two of them to get over everything they've both been through for the past 16 years. Granted I know the whole series is fiction and this is all make believe, but it was fun to picture myself in this world in the first few of the series. Even the scenes with Jacob were unbelievable. How many kids can run around on their first birthday saying big words and understanding everything that's being said to them? A bit more research on kids would have helped a lot. I feel like there were no good answers in this book. Yes, we do know wheres she's been all these years but it was just another love story that yet again breaks Brooklyn's heart. I've been dedicated to Ivy and all of her books but I think I'm done with Empire High after this. We waited for no answers and a unnecessary book.

So I loved how Miller was able to be truly happy with someone he loved.
But I hate how this was portrayed and became a story within a series that was never needed.

For the series.. this should be a one star rating..but since I loved Miller, he deserves a star on his own. Especially since he won't have his own standalone book now.
Profile Image for N..
14 reviews29 followers
February 3, 2023
I’m truly disappointed. Plot issues and inconsistencies aside, this book glorifies child grooming.
Profile Image for Courtney.
100 reviews2 followers
March 10, 2023
** Spoilers Ahead**

I loved the first 3 Empire Books. I felt so connected to Brooklyn and her wild life, she felt like a part of me almost. Book 3 devastated me when she died. I was so torn over her death. I then read book 4 "Matchmaker", though the writing was good, I couldn't stand that book. I used to love Matt. BUT, his character and inner thoughts about his best friends wife were so cringey and gross and then the worst happened when Matt decides that he could be in love with Brooklyn's best friend after seeing her for 4 days. Kennedy asked for a sign and Brooklyn shows up, alive at her door ( there's your sign Kennedy). Back to Runaway-
I was hoping for some backstory in EH5, hoping to understand why Brooklyn was gone for as long as she was and that question was thankfully answered. HOWEVER, this book was so far outside of the path of the first 3 that I am left thoroughly confused as to what the point of the series was. What was meant to be Matt's story has somehow turned into Brooklyn's story without Matt. After reading EH4 and knowing how Matt has slutted it up over the years, I would have been fine with Brooklyn being with someone casually as well but that is not at all what happened here. Brooklyn and Miller became the epic love story instead.

I loved miller's character in the first 3 books and believed he deserved a HEA but not with Brooklyn. I've wanted a Matt with Brooklyn HEA since book 1 and now I have no idea how that can happen. It can't and be a realistic storyline. Even Matt's little fling with Kennedy can be moved passed but how could Matt ever get over Brooklyn having an entire life of 16 years with someone else, loving them, "marrying" them and having a child. And if that's the direction the story goes eventually then what she just moves on that quickly from her life and love with Miller? In TSSP there is a line about Matt being married to the love of his life 6 months after this book ending. If that's Brooklyn, that's an awfully quick time to move on after losing Miller. And if he marries someone other than Brooklyn...

Honestly, I felt so disconnected with this entire book. If it had been a standalone, the story was nice. But as part of a series that I was already so invested in, it felt like an afterthought and not even part of the original storyline. I felt no emotions for the story, just confusion. I don't get why people are saying this is the book we needed. We needed the answers as to why she left and didn't come back yes, what we didn't need was another love story to completely overshadow the original and make it damn near impossible to realistically walk back to a Matt and Brooklyn reunion.

Ivy is a great writer, I love her world creation and character development. I love how she can make me love or hate a character so intensely. I wanted this book so bad, I obsessed over theories for the 9 months we waited for this book and I'm so disappointed at the lack of direction and answers to get this back on track. It has left me with very little hope of the story continuing its path from books 1-3.

If I had known that Matt and Brooklyn ended this way, I don't think I would've started the series. I'm invested at this point, so I will read EH6 when it comes out to see if Ivy somehow tries to put them back together but honestly I don't see how. If Matt gets with Kennedy in any capacity moving forward then I'll be done with the series. It's not the story I wanted or needed unfortunately and I'd rather tell my brain that the series sadly ended with Brooklyn's death in EH3 and that will be my ending.

I love tragedy and drama as much as the next person but hope is more so important and EH4 and EH5 took the hope away. Very sad.

UPDATE- I've decided to edit my review to 3 stars instead of 2. After digesting the information from this book, the writing is great as always. I still feel all the things are valid from my above review however, I do acknowledge that we needed some struggle to match things from previous books and time spans. Just because it wasn't how I would've liked to see the story go, doesn't mean the book was any less powerful or written well.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for BookishJibberJabber.
468 reviews5 followers
March 9, 2022
What the actual Hell?! I do not know Why I even bother with this series. After every book I am disappoted, but know... I am totally cutted. I knew she was alive, but I hoped she would end up somehow with Matt. But nooooooo!I just hate this, I really do.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Chelsea •chelseas.bookshelf2•.
380 reviews6 followers
March 9, 2022
This was AMAZING! I don’t want to spoil anything, but all I want to do is talk about this book! This books explains so much. All I want to do now is reread all of empire high and a few other of Ivy’s books that connect to this. Mind blown. 🤯🤯🤯

I loved this so much. Such a beautiful book. I thought I would be angry, but I loved it. Ivy is a pure evil genius. It is amazing how she can tie together all of her books and timelines together. I know Ivy loves her readers, but she also truly loves her characters. I 100% needed to read this book. If you read the author’s note at the end Ivy explains where she originally wanted to go with this one. I really do not think I would have been prepared for what is coming in book 6 if this entire book did not take place. This was just a perfect book. I know not everyone will feel this way, but for me this was the only explanation that made sense
Profile Image for XxnightxowlxX74.
775 reviews3 followers
March 10, 2022
After reading Empire High Runaway, the 5th book of the Empire High Series, I felt like my heart had been through the wringer! I was speechless!

In Runaway we learn the back story of where Brooklyn has been and with who. It was heartbreaking, heart mending and heart pounding! I laughed, cried and gasped in shock.

God Ivy Smoak knows how to create a world that embraces you and holds onto you for dear life, never wanting to let go.

Brooklyn’s back story will have your heart aching for all the things she has and was put through. The lies, manipulation, heartbreak and finding the strength to start a new life will have you feeling every emotion possible.

Oh man that ending was heart wrenching and I can’t wait to see what Brooklyn does in the next book of the series!
A little revenge anyone? Yes! Please!

Ivy is still the reigning queen of killer cliffhangers!!!
Profile Image for Sariah.
68 reviews2 followers
March 13, 2022
I don’t understand why this book is ranked so high.
This book was not necessary to this story line. Ivy has said multiple times that this is Matt’s story.

So why the actual hell do we have a love story dedicated to Brooklyn and someone who isn’t Matt??? Make it make sense.

A big part of this series was that Matt would give Brooklyn (all of her firsts) and Ivy took away every first he could give her.

Also Miller?? Really?? He GROOMED her. He has wanted her from the time she was 16. 16. SHE WAS A CHILD!!! He MANIPULATED her. This is not a beautiful love story. It’s disgusting.

Extending a series unnecessarily and doing injustice to your characters for monetary gain is always going to be a bad move.

Ivy turned what could have been an amazing series. Into something that is straight garbage.

Ivy said this was the most selfish book she has ever written. That is the only thing in the book I can agree on.

I would give this negative start if I could.


Do better Ivy. Don’t sexualize Grooming it’s low and disgusting.
Profile Image for Siobhan.
4,490 reviews468 followers
March 12, 2022
I’m going to start this review with compete honesty. I’m not usually the type to leave a series unfinished, but had I not agreed to read and review the entire series thus far, I would have quit this series way before now. The first book was addictive, the second book I was less interested in because it was repetitive, the third book failed to interest me, and the fourth book completely disgusted me. The only thing that kept me reading Runaway was to see how many details I had correctly predicted.

It turns out, I had correctly predicted them all. While many will enjoy Runaway because it offers an insight into the mysterious sixteen years that have passed, it did not work for me. The pacing was all over the place for me, and there was no real development for time that had passed. Although I did not hate this one to the same degree that I hated book four, I could not bring myself to give it a higher rating. It’s a one-point-five-star read instead of a one-star read, and the only reason it is rated half a star higher is because I was not disgusted by the male lead in the way I was with book four. Despite the lack of disgust, the story did little to move the series forward, and I feel this is just being dragged out pointlessly.

As with my feelings toward book four, I’m clearly in the minority with my feelings. Most fans of the series seemed to love this, but this has confirmed the fact that I am done with Empire High.
Profile Image for Lynne Dale.
9 reviews
March 10, 2022
So this series started off amazing couldn't put them down but book 5 has actually put me off totally, won't be continuing with the series. Expected so much more felt like it was a pointless book and ruined her character.
27 reviews
March 11, 2022
I love Ivy but this was a total flop for me. I was not anticipating an entire book about what happened to Brooklyn during the 16 years, a few chapters on it but not an entire book. I think her relationship with Miller was ridiculous. I felt like her relationship with him was similar to stockholm syndrome - although he was not her captor he was the one making sure she stayed put. Their relationship made me cringe honestly, I could not get into any of it. There was a reason she was putting off marriage to him...until she accidentally got pregnant. I really hated everything about the way this story turned.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Julia Brumfield.
53 reviews4 followers
March 4, 2022
Just when I thought Ivy Smoak’s writing couldn’t get any better along came this book that pulled me into it’s world and tugged on my heartstrings. It wasn’t the story I was expecting but it’s still absolutely amazing. The ending had me absolutely devastated and left me a blubbering mess and absolutely speechless.
January 20, 2022
Miss Ivy has never ever disappointed me in any way on any book she has ever written. She is releasing it two days before my birthday so a win,win for everyone and the book. This is time we get to hear more of what Mr. Pruitt put Brooklyn through and how everyone is going to handle it. Should be a bumpy ride hang on and enjoy 😉.
Profile Image for Misty  Carlson .
34 reviews
March 3, 2022
Empire High Runaway was an emotional roller coaster . It has left me confused on my feelings since I don’t even remember when . My heart is aching and I really don’t know if I should cry or laugh .

At the end of Matchmaker when we found out Brooklyn was alive, I was so angry with her for staying gone all of these years . Matchmaker had me team Matt and I didn’t care about where Brooklyn had been I only cared that she stayed away . I cared that she broke Matt and she didn’t have a care in the world to see how badly he was hurting

Prior to the release of this book I had a feeling this book would show us where Brooklyn had been the past 16 years, and that it would end with her on Kennedys door step .

I was almost 100 percent correct . This book picks up right after the surgery that took place in Betrayal . It will then follow Brooklyn the next 16 years.

The journey Brooklyn went on over the next 16 years has made me change my stance . I am no longer mad at her for staying away . After seeing her side of the story and how hard she fought you can’t really be mad at her . My heart breaks for her for having to endure everything she’s gone through from the first 3 Empire High books to the events that take place in this book.

I’ve said this before in my reviews, and I’ll say it again .. Ivy is an exceptional world builder . She just has this way of writing these characters that draws you in and makes you feel like they are real people . You read these books and the next thing you know you are in the Smoaksters group arguing about who Matt should end up with .

I think my favorite thing about this book is the Easter egg that was left in Scarlett. It’s such a huge thing and maybe gives an insight on the future . After reading Runaway and reading Scarlett I am convinced one of three things happen in the future and I cannot wait to find out how it all plays out
Profile Image for Tessa Dotson.
17 reviews
March 4, 2022
Laughter and happiness. Sorrow and tears. Fears and worry. Ivy some how makes you feel it all. And let me tell you I felt it all! Some questions are answered as new ones appear. Just when you think you have it all figured out and that peace is on the horizon something else happens! Will Brooklyn ever find her peace? And will that bring her back to Matt? A beautifully tragic story that’ll keep you on your toes right to the end! Runaway did not disappoint!
Profile Image for Kira.
2 reviews1 follower
March 10, 2022
I am so angry because of this book. This was my favorite series by Ivy and I have read all of her books. Even if this book was a standalone I wouldn’t have liked it. It was a series of time jumps that told snippets ranging from every few months to every year. Miller deserved better than this and so do the readers.
I was so excited for this story only to realize very quickly from how the book was progressing that Miller was going to die. I even found my thoughts wandering imagining how she would kill him off. I thought maybe a car accident or falling into the frozen lake. I know it’s morbid but I just was not connected with this story. I kept looking at the percent read on my Kindle thinking his death would come soon so we would see her with Matt. The further along I got the more I realized that wasn’t going to happen in this book.
The teasers for this book were so misleading. I feel like we were being teased Matt and Brooklyn. Right? Am I alone in this?
I won’t be giving up the series or the author because I’m hoping Ivy has something up her sleeve to turn this around. I hope that something isn’t Kennedy.
I realize these stories are what the author chooses to write and she can’t please everyone. I just feel as empty as Brooklyn right now.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
March 12, 2022

After devouring wholeheartedly all of the Hunter-Caldwell brothers books (and every side story too), I’d been waiting with bated breath for Brooklyn to get her happily ever after…with Matt of course. I’d set alarms & calendar reminders months ago for this very day. But I regret reading Runaway 1000%.

I really liked Miller & this could have been a lovely standalone book if not for the previous Brooklyn storyline. But there’s no way that this was the best direction. I will NEVER believe that Matt moved on so quickly, especially after seeing the torment and grief from Matchmaker. Or that Brooklyn wouldn’t reach out to at least one person from her past before going on the run.

This is the book equivalent of a Game of Thrones ending where nothing from the previous story matches up with the final chapter. It is outrageously unforgivable, and I’m just left angry & extremely disappointed.
Profile Image for Priscilla.
66 reviews
March 12, 2022
This is tough review to give. I have loved the series so far. I may of given it more stars if it would of released before Matchmaker. Unfortunately, it did not, which made this book very predictable and a bore. There is ZERO character development of Brooklyn. She knows her father is a liar yet she believes those lies. She’s hurt and and instead of healing/becoming a strong independent women she relied on someone to save her. When she got away from her Dad she should have looked into him and found away to be safe. Miller did his best but knowledge is power and Brooklyn stayed ignorant thinking her family would never come back to haunt her. Two books of past and the only things I know is that a good man is dead, a little boy doesn’t have a father and two people who loved each other 16 years ago still love each other but haven’t matured enough to do anything about it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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