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4 dark, suspenseful and romantic stars
This is such a great read! Yes, it’s a dark and suspenseful mystery/thriller, but it’s also an absolutely gorgeous second-chance-romance, and the two aspects of the story blend together perfectly. It’s very different from JLA’s usual books but I think she did a fantastic job with this one, creating an intense mood and a gripping story with a heartfelt love story that kept the hopeless romantic in me satisfied, and I loved it!
Sasha Keeton has returned to her home town after ten years away, and having had little contact with anybody except her mother and her best friend. She fled are escaping a nightmare – the sole survivor of the serial killer known as ‘The Groom’ – but while she may have survived, she has been left understandably shattered by all that she endured, and she has returned home to finally try and live her life, rather than just existing in it.
There were two types of death. Actual death, where the body and soul and everything was gone. Then there was the second kind of death – where the soul was stripped away, but the body continued on, going day to day, just existing in a shell of what once was.
So she moves in to her family’s Inn, to the property loves and once dreamed of running. And as she tries to pick up her life again, another huge part of it comes walking through her door – Cole Landis, the boy she was dating when she was taken, and who she left without a word after her rescue. She hasn’t forgotten him, and he certainly hasn’t forgotten her, and for all of his friendliness, gentleness and understanding, he’s a man who knows what he wants, and what he wants is Sasha.
“I’m not some random guy you just met. I’m not someone who doesn’t know that what’s at the core of you is worth working at, breaking through those walls for.”
Oh my God.
“People don’t get second chances often, Sasha, but we got one, and I’m not going to let that pass us by.”
This was such a beautiful love story! Cole is now an FBI agent, and he has been living with the heartwrenching guilt he feels over not being able to protect Sasha in the past. So when a new threat emerges he is determined to be there for the woman he loves, and his need to be there for Sasha, and his protectiveness over her, was absolutely gorgeous. But beneath all of that is their connection that was established ten years ago, and the feelings they had for each other which never went away, and are now back and more intense than ever.
“For a while I thought you were the one who got away. That one day I would somehow piece it all back together, but I was wrong. You were the one.”
I might’ve stopped breaking.
He curled the tips of his fingers around my chin. “You are the one.”
And Sasha blew my mind! The book is written entirely from her POV and the fact that she wasn’t a dribbling mess after all that she endured was amazing, but it was the strength she showed in carrying on and reclaiming her life, all the while dealing with the new terrors, that made me love her. I especially loved how she handled her relationship with Cole, and the confidence she had with him. Yes, she had been beaten, but she wasn’t broken, and I loved that she was an equal partner in what they were starting to build together.
“I know what I want.” I settled back and met his gaze. “I know what I’m feeling …” My chest rose sharply. “I want you.”
He lifted my hands back to his chest. “You have me, babe.”
But damn this book is creepy!! The serial killer aspect is really cleverly done via Sasha’s memories, through what is happening in the present and through glimpses into the mind of the new danger that is wreaking havoc on Sasha’s attempt at a fresh start. It’s frightening and nail-biting, but it creates just the right mood for this sort of read, and I easily lost myself in the mystery of ‘whodunnit’, and the heart-pounding tension that is balanced perfectly with the swoony romance.
Like all JLA books, there is a wonderful ‘realness’ to her characters and despite the seriousness of the story, there are lots of light and funny moments that help you to relate and fall in love with them. There is a great group of side characters, and I’m crossing my fingers that there will be a spin off book to continue on with a hinted-at storyline that I would love to see more of.
I really enjoyed this book. Scary, intriguing, thrilling and romantic, it kept me captivated from start to finish and proves again why Jennifer Armentrout is an auto-buy author for me – no matter what she writes!
An Advanced Review Copy of this book was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
See our Jennifer L. Armentrout Author Spotlight for more reads by this author.