Ethan Stone, lives by one mantra “fight or die”.
The army is his life, his men are his family. So
when an injury sends him home from Afghanistan, the nightmares of what he’s
witnessed, can no longer be kept at bay. The alcohol he drowns himself in every
night only sinks him further into depression’s abyss.
Waking after one of his benders, Stone is greeted
by a tiny, knife wielding firecracker and one destroyed bar. Saddles, was meant to be her escape. A new start
away from an abusive relationship and a way to fulfill her daddy’s dying wish.
But all the bar has brought Shannon is debt collectors and pushy buyers
threatening to destroy her. And to top all that off one drunken, gorgeous idiot.
The last thing she needed was a handsome, angry
ex-soldier to distract her.
All he wanted, was to pay for the damages. But
when she refuses there is only one thing he can do. But when a familiar face
from his past changes everything, can they learn to work together?
Will they find salvation in each other’s arms?
She turns over in bed and I look at her, expecting to see regret in her eyes. Instead, I see understanding. This woman, this . . . angel, has come to me in my greatest time of need. I swallow past a sudden lump in my throat, too overcome with emotion to speak. She doesn’t say
anything but leans over to kiss my cheek. I turn my head at the last second, capturing her lips with my own. This kiss is different, though; it’s softer, gentler. I nibble lightly on her bottom lip and feel her smile. Her hand travels down my chest to the waistband of my jeans but instead of pulling them off like I expect, her hand disappears beneath my shirt. I tense, not ready for her to see that vulnerable side of me. I’m too scarred; she’s going to take one look at my body and run. I grab her hand and pull it out of my shirt, but she’s felt them. The scars. I can see the horror on her face. She’s going to leave. I brace myself for the rejection I know is coming… But it doesn’t. I flinch as
she pushes my shirt up, exposing my scars to her gaze. The light from the lamp casts our shadows on the wall, and I choose to look at that rather than the horror on her face. She’s silent. Too silent. What the hell is she thinking? I risk a glance, and my heart almost stops beating from what I see. Tears. She’s fucking crying. For me. “I’m sorry,” she cries, wiping away her tears. I want to fucking laugh. She’s crying for me, and apologizing for doing it. “Don’t.” I smile, leaning up and capturing her hand in my own. I press my lips against it, tasting the slightly salty tang of her tears on her fingers.
“Why are you crying?”
“Look at what they did to you,” she whispers through her tears. “Keets told me you were captured, but he never told me this.” Keets told her? I should be angry, but I guess a part of me is glad she knew. It would explain why she didn’t run the second she saw the scars.
“Will you tell me?” she asks, but I shake my head. I can’t do it. She’s opened a part of my heart tonight that I thought would lie dormant forever. But this, this past that I come from, this weight that I carry . . . it’s mine. I can’t burden her with it. She understands. I don’t even have to say anything. I swallow past another lump in my throat as she kisses the long, jagged scar on my ribs. I have a tattoo there,
covering the worst of it. I’m covered in tattoos, actually, most of them on my chest and arms. All designed to hide the imperfect body that lies beneath them. But she makes it bearable. Her kiss is soft, fleeting. Not enough, though. Never enough. This time, when she tries to take my shirt off, I let her. This time, we make love. It’s gentle, slower. I want to show her the same kindness she’s shown me. She takes me to heights far beyond my fear and insecurities.
This time, I make love to her as Ethan, the man . . . not Stone, the injured soldier.
The cover of this one sucked me in. I am truly a cover whore in every sense of the word and this cover is HOT! Ans a story about an bad boy soldier…yes please. So, I was lucky enough to be granted a very early ARC of this book and I dived right in.
There were things I really liked about this book. I was definitely invested in the characters and I found myself needed to know what was going to happen to them next. And I liked the overall story line, I love a damaged soldier desperate for connection and finding solace in a relationship he wasn’t looking for. That’s a favorite trope of mine.
Where this book lost me was in the pacing. So much was thrown at the reader so fast that parts of the story seemed unbelievable. And unfortunately, many of the things thrown at the reader are only mentioned a single time, never to be revisited or resolved. Without spoilers, I will only say there were several plot points left completely unresolved in this one. Also, there were a few character actions, in particular things done by Stone, that seemed out of character and really hampered my overall enjoyment of the book.
Lastly, I thought this book wanted so badly to be deeper than it was. It attempted to take on very serious issues including alcoholism, but then, in my opinion, failed to deliver the attention to detail and the realism needed when approaching such an important issue.
Overall, I think the author definitely has the chops to deliver a great story and I would pick up another one of her books. I’m just not sure this book reached it’s full potential.
dark and strong, with just enough vulnerability to make you believe you could save them. Her women are tough, beautiful and can hold their own.When not writing, Cherry can be found indulging her other obsession, watching horror movies.
Australia, with Mr. S, her three children, three cats, three dogs and 4 hermit crabs.