The version I bought came with a 88-page prequel novella titled Let You Leave that creates the foundation Layla and Landen's love that takes place eight months prior the first book. So I'll review that one too. Reading the novella helps readers understand the depth of their relationship and their home/high school life back then, though it is not excluded to be mentioned in Keep Me Still. Situations mentioned in Keep Me Still can be understood without reading the novella.
Let You Leave opens up with Layla going back to school for senior year, and she gets by unnoticed. And not necessarily by choice by being a shut-in or closed off, but because the students remembered what happened to her freshman year in Chemistry class that pegged her the nickname Freaky Flaherty. Then we get a glimpse of Landen's life from his point of view as he moves from Colorado to Georgia where his and Layla's lives collide. He's an army brat to a brutal Colonel who beats him at home, and forces him to take up football. Landen's dream sport is soccer, and his father degrades him of that. Not to mention that his father talks down to him, and pushes him while he's down.
On his first day at a new school, Layla's third week back, Landen can't help but notice her. He actually sees her and think he's seen an angel. It may sound cliche, but it's actually cute that a guy like him thought of the sight of her that way. Landen seems to be the only one paying attention to Layla, and she's the only one he sees. As they fly past platonic to something deeper, she knows that she can't keep hiding her condition from him. The cats out of the bag once a loud sound at the Homecoming dance triggers a seizure right in front of Landen. Humiliated, Layla pushes him away. She thinks that he will treat her the same way the school treats her, but he doesn't. He goes to see her everyday for a couple weeks until she gives in and gives him a chance of continuing their friendship, and maybe start a relationship. He genuinely cares for her and wants to keep her safe, keep her still. You get emotionally involved with both of them at this point, which sets things in motion for Keep Me Still.
Keep Me Still picks up eight months after Let You Leave leaves off. Layla starts her freshman year in USC and decides to shed the dead weight of her past and actually live life. After what she went through at thirteen and then on, I applaud Layla for the effort she puts in for putting it all in the past where it belongs and live. She's no crybaby even though she has the obligations to do so. She's stronger and bolder than she was eight months ago. Finally deciding to move on, all caution goes out the window when she sees Landen there at freshman orientation. Their reunion is rough due to unresolved issues when he left her months ago. There's a lot of pushing and pulling, but they get through it. Even though she's more out of her shell than ever before, Layla is still the milkshake (with extra cherries) loving girl that Landen fell in love with eight months ago. Speaking of which, the food play in this was hot. Might not be original, but since it involved Layla's favorite choice of dessert it maintained it's spot on the steamy factor. Points for Landen for sensual creativity.
Layla thinks that Landen's intentions are a pretense of her being a charity case to him. Or a prank by the jocks, cheerleaders, and maybe the whole school. That was back in high school. In college, she believes that Landen is there for another go with her. But as Layla finds out why and how he landed himself in the same college she attends, her belief of being a charity/pity case hits her again. Hard. Landen has known all along that her condition has gotten worse, and Layla believes that he is there out of pity because she doesn't have much time left to live. He kept in touch with her aunt all this time behind her back, which is how he found out the latest results of her EEG. Again, she pushes him away after finding out that he's been lying to her about his intentions which turns out he's not. Her Aunt Kate might have pulled some strings and striked a deal in order for him to follow her to California, but Landen genuinely wanted another chance with Layla. However, Layla doesn't see fit for a while in which Landen tries to let her go by leaving to go pro in Spain. In case I didn't address this earlier, Landen plays soccer.
I applaud Landen for being a gentleman in such a serious scenario when everyone else judges her as the school freak show, even though he is anything but when it comes to his lust for Layla. As much as his green eyes and dimples can make any lady swoon, he's a walking erection. Any body language, touch, words that come from Layla, all thoughts do straight down to his male anatomy extremity. It's quite hilarious to see him fight off his urges as if it was the devil. He is redeemed by his gentlemanly charm and his Good Samaritan deeds. A big redeemable quality is him turning down the offer of going pro in Ecuador to follow her to California. For being a jock with a history of sleeping around, he is not like those arrogant jerks we all see in movies or have seen firsthand in high school. Given what he endured when growing up as the Colonel's son, he strives to be better than his father ever was.
Skylar is hilarious as he is insightful. He's more observant than he lets on. As much shit he gives Landen for being whipped over a high school sweetheart, he cares about his friends feelings for her. Just as he cares for Layla's roommate, Corin. He may be a player, but he's got a weak spot somewhere that Corin knows where to push. Both Skylar and Corin are grade A supporting characters, and I'm glad they are heavily included in the story. Not only for comic relief, but being in the lives for their friends.
As much as I adored that they found their way to each other (again!) and flew off into the sunset -- okay, well Spain -- there is no epilogue, but Quinn rewards us with a sequel novella. Even without the sequel, it's easy to tell how their life continues as Layla goes with Landen as they jetset to another country together. Landen followed Layla to California to pursue her dreams, and in return Layla follows Landen and his dreams across the pond. He left her once, and he's going to prove that not everyone leaves. He's not only keeping her still, but keeping her forever.