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Peek Inside Shadows You Left

Erik’s been bouncing from city to city for years. Then he meets River. Someone so soft shouldn't be intrigued by his rough edges. But Erik isn’t the only one trying to escape a shadowed past.

Shadows You Left

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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 quiet. He had a simple routine.
Designing tattoos, avoiding drama. Well, mostly.
Then Erik comes along—scarred and dangerous, shrouded in mystery.
A mystery River can't resist trying to solve.
Maybe a secret as dark as his own.
Neither of them expected a relationship so complicated, so intense.
Neither of them expected...each other.
Erik and River are both trying to escape a shadowed past.
But the thing about shadows is: the faster you run, the faster they chase you.


A whirlwind romance with teeth and truth, this book is a stunner.” -T.J.D., Goodreads

“The emotion this modern-day love story evokes is raw and real. Seattle, with its forests and food trucks, provides the perfect setting. This story delivers the feels, while the dragon tattoos provide the kind of magic one can find in a rainstorm or an art exhibit.” -Susan J., NetGalley

“This romance is beautiful and raw.” -Kade G., NetGally

I loved the acute, lyrical metaphors and descriptions that were always right on point, leaving an ache from their precision but also inspiring awe from their beauty.” -I.M. H., Goodreads

Dark, dramatic, and gritty!” -What’s Better Than Books

Additional Details

ISBN: 9781640638136
Release Date: May 20, 2019
Page Count: 377
Imprint: embrace
Genre: contemporary, lgbtq, new adult
Tropes: one night stand, opposites attract, overcoming odds

Select Featured Reviews

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By Ariadna February 16, 2020

Prior to this book, I'd only read one novel by Taylor Brooke (Fortitude Smashed--which I'd liked fine) and none by Jude Sierra. I bought the novel sometime last summer and then it languished on my TBR...until this month. #Ooops FTR, I'd been meaning to read it, but it wasn't until the gentle nudge f ...more

By Leigh April 28, 2019

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 matter what Erik and River have to work through, hope and healing is at the center of this story and I could not have loved it more.

CW: addiction, codepen ...more

By T.J. May 09, 2019

(This review will appear on my blog on May 13th, 2019)

There is something to be said for laid back novels, such as Shadows You Left by Jude Sierra and Taylor Brooke, which offers up an intriguing plot and the potential for great character development, then delivers. It is the sort of book that can ke ...more

By Ela May 19, 2019

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 ...more

By Leelah🍁♋️ May 27, 2019

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 mak ...more

By iam May 13, 2019

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 ...more

By Bette May 19, 2019

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 ...more

By Cyn May 22, 2019

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 ...more

By Suz May 10, 2019

“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 re ...more

By Nicole May 07, 2019

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 th ...more

By K.D. May 29, 2019

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 ut ...more

By Moony August 26, 2019

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! ...more

By Raz May 15, 2019

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 ...more

By Violet May 09, 2019

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 an ...more

By Sherry May 26, 2019

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 me ...more

By BeingKris June 20, 2019

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 int ...more

By Alex May 18, 2019

*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 descript ...more

By Kelly June 29, 2019

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 i ...more

By Tena June 16, 2019

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 ...more

By Robin July 18, 2019

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 a ...more

By Charlotte May 29, 2019

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. Fo ...more

By Teach June 08, 2019

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 ...more

By A March 17, 2020

I honestly really like this book. It has all the things I love: fighting as a sport, angsty main characters who don’t emote well, and those same characters who get better at emoting. For a long time I wanted to read a book about a queer fighter and I’m glad this is the one that I came across. ...more

By Gail March 05, 2020

I had 3 stages of rating for this book; 1st 1/3 good, well paced and dual POV which is my personal fav; 2/3 Seemed to be moving glacially slow but I stuck with it; last third was like a different author kicked in and was super good. So I gave it a 3.75 rounded up ‘cause it left me happy. ...more

By Kaila May 21, 2019

this was good but parts irritated me.. each character had some flaws i just wanted to smack out of them lol. but it was all around a decent story and good plot. so i liked it ...more

Showing 1 to 25 of 25
3.96 avg rating
Jude Sierra

About the author

Jude Sierra

Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her most recent novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater was released in May of 2018.

Taylor Brooke

About the author

Taylor Brooke

After working in Los Angeles as a special effects makeup artist for many years, Taylor Brooke (she/they) turned her imagination back to her true love—books. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she’s traveling, hiking or reading. She writes #ownvoices Queer books for teens and adults. Connect with her on Twitter at @taysalion.

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