It’s rare for me to venture into the realm of contemporary romance and even rarer for me to open an NA book, but this blurb sucked me in. I’m usually all about a tortured hero, but in this case our heroine is the one who is deeply damaged and she finds a chance at an entirely new life with the powerful, Irish boxer who falls in love with her.
Emily is trying to lay low with a new identity, now that she has escaped from her sadistic and abusive step-father. She does everything she can to blend into the scenery and scrape by as she works on her degree. But somehow she has caught the attention of Cormac O’Connell, a mountain of a man who could have any woman he wants at the drop of a hat. It isn’t just any woman he wants, though. He wants the shy, innocent, and kind young waitress who his boxing trainer Danny spends his morning with.
It isn’t long before Danny offers Em a job, handling the books at his gym. She accepts because the old man is one of the first people she has trusted in ages. The gym puts O’Connell constantly in her orbit and slowly he begins to work his magic on her, breaking down the walls she has spent a lifetime building. He makes her feel safe, first as his friend –and later, as something much more.
I loved O’Connell for how much he loved Emily. I loved his patience and care with her. And I loved that he worked to make himself a better man for her. Em has been through so much, it was so gratifying watching her find her self-worth; watching her believe in someone and eventually, herself. There are times these two are a little dysfunctional. But who would believe it if they weren’t? They’ve both been kicked down, abandoned, and betrayed, so they both sort of roll around in their iloveyousomuch iwoulddiewithoutyou thing. They are damaged, but together they are more than the sum of their parts.
Emily’s recounting of her abuse is pretty rough stuff. You should know that there are passages that are very difficult to read. But that’s the point. She had to live it and it defines her. Until it doesn’t anymore. And then you know she has won; which is the book’s great triumph.
The secondary characters are also well drawn. I loved Danny and the father figure he became to everyone. And pool of friends like Nikki and Kiernan enriched the story… and made me interested in learning more about what happens to them one day. In the meantime, I am happy to hear Con and Em are getting another book. The Aftermath is out in December.
Overall, I’d say this one is worth reading. It’s dark at times, at others, it’s sexy and sweet. But more than anything, it’s engaging and satisfying. Worth a read.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
by RJ Prescott
Original Release Date: February 10, 2015
Re-Release Date: July 13, 2015