BOOK REVIEW ~ WITHIN THESE WALLS BY J.L. BERG

Within these walls, he became my solace, my sanctuary and my strength.
I am not strong. I am just a survivor of circumstance.Isn’t that what we all do? Survive?
Each of us has our own set of circumstances to muddle through. Mine are just more…complicated. Born with a severe heart defect, I’ve seen the inside of a hospital room more than my own bedroom.
I was drowning, a prisoner to the illness that owned me, until he appeared. He thinks he’s blocked out the world with his tattoos and hard exterior, but I see the real Jude, the one he so desperately wants to forget.
But is he the answer to my prayers or will he break my already damaged heart forever?
My name is Lailah Buchanan, and this is our story of hope, redemption and sacrificing it all for the one you love.

This was such a sweet story! While I didn’t totally love it, both main characters were adorkable, the message behind the story was uplifting, and the romance was heartwarming. After reading this book and this author’s Ready series, I notice that all of her books make me fall in love with the idea of love. There are clichés and her stories are definitely sugary sweet, but ultimately, it’s just impossible for me to not enjoy her books on a certain level. For me, her books are the perfect ‘feel-good’ romances that are bound to put a smile on my face and leave me with warm, fuzzy feelings. This book was no different.
The heroine Lailah Buchanan was born with a heart defect, and her entire life has been uprooted by her condition. She’s spent most of her time lying within the walls of a hospital. Now at 22, she’s finally looking forward to being discharged and living life like she’s always intended to.
“My life has been nothing but surgeries, procedures, and living from one test result to the next. I’ll gladly trade all that for a little normalcy. Give me a terrible prom and a hot, sticky day at Disneyland. Let me fall in love even if it means I’ll get hurt in the end. At least then, I’d know that I’m living.”
But unfortunately, things don’t go the way she planned and once again, she’s stuck inside her white-walled prison.
The hero Jude Cavanaugh is a nurse aide who harbors immense guilt after his fiancé died. Working as a nurse aide in the same hospital where Lailah resides, he’s a complete loner who gave up his lavish lifestyle in a twisted hope that walking the same halls where his fiancé once was would bring him closer to her. He believes he doesn’t deserve forgiveness and working as a CNA is his atonement.
“Healing required the desire to do so. I didn’t want to heal, and I certainly didn’t want to move on.”
I don’t want to spoil exactly how, but the way Lailah and Jude meet is SO cute and completely melted my heart, like awww-worthy.
Though the romance didn’t develop until later on, there is an underlying mutual attraction and I still felt that it was more insta-love, especially considering the number of years Jude shouldered his guilt and refused to move on from his ex-fiancé he fell for Lailah pretty fast. But because I really did love both of these characters who are just completely charming, I didn’t mind too much that they got together quick.
There’s a part of this book I have to mention. Lailah had this list, a Someday list of things she wanted to accomplish but couldn’t because of her poor health and whenever Jude would help her finish one of those goals, it completely melted my heart. Just the dedication and conviction behind Lailah’s desire to complete each goal and Jude’s determination to help her achieve them all made my heart feel so full. It also served as a step towards their relationship development as well so in light of that, the insta-love at the beginning really didn’t bother me too much.
Though I could have easily given this book 4 stars or more, the fact remains that the last 20% of the book was slightly disappointing and I flat-out disliked the decisions these characters made.
“Two broken hearts – we would destroy each other before we even had a chance to begin.”
Throughout it all, I felt like this conflict was unnecessary because as quickly as it was introduced, it was resolved just as fast and didn’t offer any significant plot development, only served to make this last portion of the book too sugary and rushed. But taking the book as a whole, this story was a solid romance read that is bound to warm any romantic’s heart.
Within These Walls is a NA contemporary romance that is NOT tragic. Though it’s written as a standalone, there is an upcoming book titled Beyond These Walls that continues this couple’s story and there’ll also be a spinoff book for Jude’s brother who is introduced in this book. Personally, I can’t wait for that one! It’s bound to be darker to match his character…
Rating: 3.5 stars!