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4 ‘Farewell to the ‘Burg’ stars
The ‘Burg series is one of my favourite of Ms Ashley’s, and I have been so excited for this book, while also very reluctant to say goodbye. And while this one is not my favourite of the series, there’s no denying, KA has finished it well.
Garret ‘Merry’ Merrick is the brother of Rocky (from book 3), a police officer and partner of the luscious Mike Haines (from book 4), and friend to the rest of the boys that we have come to know and love in this series. He’s also the “last good man standing” in the ‘burg, and the object of unrequited love for Cher Rivers.
Cher was once known as Cheryl, and was introduced into the series as the unsuspecting love interest of a serial killer. It was a dark time in her life, but she has moved on and with the help of Colt – the man who has stepped in to be a protective ‘big brother’ – she is now living in the ‘burg, and working at J&J’s, doing her best to raise her 10 year old son, Ethan. She’s not had an easy life, but she’s worked her ass off to get where she is, and she’s in a good place, so she regrets nothing and doesn’t let her past bring her down. She’s a kickass heroine who prides herself on being tough, hanging with the boys of the ‘burg, and as such, she has developed a close friendship with them, but it’s her friendship with Merry that she cherishes the most.
In previous books of the series, Merry has been struggling with his divorce from the woman he considers the love of his life. He let Mia go when he was in a bad place, and he always regretted not working harder to make it work, but there was always the expectation that they would find their way back to each other. But now, Merry has learned that Mia is engaged to somebody else. Devastated and hitting rock bottom, support comes from an unexpected source when Cher stands up for him, and lays it out in a way that finally wakes him up.
“Straight up. You got good, you don’t let it go. It lets you go, you hold on. It slips through your fingers, you pull out all the stops to get it back. You got somethin’ worth fighting for, you fight for it. You do not sit on your ass waitin’ for it to come back to you. You show whoever that is they mean something and you go all out on that, and the only way you go down is doin’ that shit swinging.”
“Any woman worth that kind of devotion, she takes her man’s back so he can stay standing. She does not wait for him to sort out his shit and then find her and kiss her ass.”
From this one outburst, I knew I was going to be a Cher fan and her outspokenness. Seriously, sing it sista! Merry obviously agrees and takes Cher home for a night of hot, drunken and unrestrained sex. The awkward follow up has them both planning on putting their night together down as a one-off, with them picking up their friendship as it was… Until trouble arrives on Cher’s doorstep and Merry decides that friendship is not enough and commences his pursuit. So, under the watchful eye of everybody in town, there’s a lot of back and forth as Merry determinedly claims that things are going to happen between Cher and himself, with Cher refusing, not wanting to have her heart broken by the only man that could destroy her if she let him. And it sets up the epic battle that KA does so well – in a way that doesn’t get annoying because you know it’s just a matter of time before the alpha wins, and you just sit back and take in all of the chemistry until that happens.
His phone sounded.
He grabbed it off his coffee table and his mouth curled up when he read, Kiss my ass, Merry.
Using his thumb, he returned, You want that, brown eyes, I’ll work it in.
She didn’t make him wait and shot back, Go fuck yourself.
Now, sweetheart, you know that’s not the way it works.
Then came, We’re done.
He ignored that and sent, Sleep tight. See you tomorrow.
Because it takes them a while to get on the same page, there’s a great sense of anticipation just waiting for them to get their shit together, and when they finally do, it’s sensational as always. Passionate, intense, swoony and sexy, Merry and Cher together are great, and there’s lots time spent with them developing things between them, talking things out, making each other laugh, a whole lotta hotness that had me fanning myself and all of those sweet moments that had me grinning and swooning like an idiot.
“We got a lot to talk about, Cher. We’ll get that shit outta the way… But I don’t want you dreading it, because, honest as fuck, we’re gonna get through it and we’re gonna get past it. I won’t make you promises again that I can’t keep. Swear that, babe. So when I promise right now that I know where my head is at with you and I want us both to give this the best shot we can give it, you can believe that.”
“While we ride this out, you don’t need that fortress. You don’t need it because you got me,”
And in the middle of it all is Ethan. Cher’s son is a mini alpha-in-the-making. I’ve gotta say, that some of the things that come out of his mouth surprised me for a ten year old (I have a 9 year old at home, and thought that Ethan was way too mature for his age), but whatever. He’s an absolute sweetheart who is fiercely protective of his mom and I love that he was included as such an important part of Cher’s life, and what was developing between her and Merry. And seeing Merry and Ethan together, and their growing relationship, was gorgeously heart-warming.
But, as always, there is trouble looming. And with psycho exes (not just one, but two!), Merry’s demons, Cher’s demons, a potentially dangerous neighbour and a looming threat that nobody expected, there’s a lot of drama going on, all building to ‘the 90% event’ – and yep, it’s big. But through everything that they endure, they don’t let it interfere with their relationship, and every hurdle that they face only works to bring them closer together.
“It happens,” he replied.
“What happens?” she asked.
He dipped closer and held her tighter.
“It happens,” he repeated. “For people like us, baby. It happens, eventually. Just as long as we hold on.”
It’s a beautiful love story, and I loved watching it all unfold. I loved watching both Merry and Cher find so much happiness together, and I love that, one again, KA gives us so many of the beautiful little moments that mean so much. She envelops you into the story, and involves you in a way that few other authors are able to manage, and I lap that up!
As a bonus in this book, there is a LOT of time spent with all of the couples from the series, and I love that! Merry and Cher are both much-loved members of the crew, so everybody is up in their business – there to help with the dramas, provide relationship advice (wanted or not), and nobody holds back on giving their opinions on the unfolding relationship.
I looked at Colt.
“You gonna give me shit about goin’ out with your brother in blue?”
“Gave Merry shit already,” Colt returned, and my stomach clutched. “He shoved it back.” My stomach unclutched and I beat back a smile. “Not sure which one a’ you is more fucked in the head, him for takin’ on your shit or you for takin’ on his. Just know I’ll kick either of your asses, you fuck the other over.”
I’d been blathering for the last twenty minutes about all that had been going down with me… I didn’t leave anything out.
“Vi,” I snapped when she still didn’t say anything.
“Quiet,” she returned. “I’m trying to stop myself from slapping you upside your head.”
“You should be a therapist, Mike. Open your own clinic. Call it ‘Don’t Be a Dumb Fuck Treatment Center.’”
And then there’s that epilogue! Hot damn, it was awesome! From the POV of almost everybody featured in the series, we get glimpses into the future of each of the couples – and their kids, and It. Was. Epic! I love the strong theme of family and the sense of closure that it provided, and I read it with tears streaming down my face.
“No lie that this is the proudest moment of my life, gettin’ to walk you down that aisle.”
I will admit, though, that I didn’t love this book as much as I was hoping. Cher and Merry are great together, but I didn’t fall in love with them as much as I did with some of the other couples in the series. I also found this one a little excessive in the KA-speak – not only with Merry and the rest of the boys, but Cher speaks exactly the same, and with all of their combined dialogue and monologue written in the same overly-wordy style that KA has, I did find it a bit much at times. But I still very much enjoyed the story, and am happy with the way it all played out.
KA has finished off her series beautifully with a great love story, lots of time spent with characters that we love dearly, and she’s given us multiple happy endings to finish it all off beautifully. This series remains one of my favourites, and I look forward to many rereads in the future.
The ‘Burg series
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