My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4 Fantastic Debut Stars!!!
"Love Conquers All"
I apologize in advance for what may be a long-winded review.
Izzy West and Holt "Axel" Reid were high school sweethearts. They were happy and they were in love. But their happiness would be short-lived. Axel signed up for the marines and left Izzy alone with a promise of course that they would be together after basic training.
What happened to Izzy after Axel left was a tragedy of epic proportions. She lost both her parents and due to miscommunication and a set of pissed off poster parent, lost Axel as well.
Forward to years later, Izzy's bad luck continues. This time, an abusive husband was bent on breaking her spirit. After a horrible confrontation that almost resulted in her death, Izzy was finally out of her abusive husband's clutches.
She moved on with the help of a couple of friends, Dee and Gage, and tried to piece back her life together. Just when she thought, she was finally free of her nightmare, the specter of her abusive husband once again intruded into her life. And this is where Axel comes in…
Now onto my proper review…
You know the saying, everything is bigger in Texas. Well, this book, while it's not set in Texas, is you would call "big." Bigger than life characters with a lot of going on their lives. There is nothing tame about this book especially when it came to lead male character. Axel is big. Please, get your minds off the gutter right now because I'm merely talking about his muscles. (Yeah, right.) Seriously, Axel is your typical alpha male with a dirty mouth and a slightly caveman personality. In spite of that, I totally fell in love with him. He was, in my opinion, what every girl needs, gorgeous, hot, bossy and sweet, in other words, totally lovable.
Izzy on the other hand was a tad whiny for my taste and immature. Considering she was 30 years old, some of actions were more like actions of a 16 year old girl rather than a 30 year old woman. Case in point, she just saw Axel after believing he was dead and believing he had abandoned her, but do you know what she did? Yup, she ran away and absolutely refused to talk him. I mean, any normal woman who went through hell like she did would have railed against Axel and ASK HIM QUESTIONS!!! Like hello? Why did you not answer my letters? Or maybe she could have kicked his ass but no, Izzy chose to run away.
And not only that, she totally acted out like a spoiled 16-year old and she got upset when Gage called Axel to fetch her. She really tried my patience. To be honest she almost pulled my rating for this book to 2 stars. It nearly did. It wasn't until the very end that she earned points from me after going badass on her ex-husband.
Izzy's badassness aside, there one point though that really made me like this book as a whole. Aside from Axel, which was a given, I loved the way Harper Sloan handled the sensitive topic of spousal abuse. She was spot on especially the part where Brandon, Izzy's ex-husband had slowly but surely isolated her from her family, her friends until she realized she had no one altogether. So when the abuse started, she was stuck. Brandon made her dependent on him and without friends and family, the abuse just festered until Izzy herself felt helpless to get out. It reminded me a little of The Blue-eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas where the heroine, Haven also suffered abuse in the hands of her husband. So to me that added a realistic layer to the story.
The secondary characters for me were okay. I liked Greg but I didn't fall in love with him. He reminded me too much of Tex. LoL! But Greg is supposed to be hot but to me he was too cuddly. So yeah, reminded me too much of Tex so he didn't do anything for me. Maddox on the hand, I can totally see myself falling in love with. We get a glimpse of what might be in store for him in the future. I'm totally all for that whole tortured hero shit. Plus, factor in Emmy who totally had a crush on him which Maddox doesn't seem to return, I'm hooked, baby. I'm a total sucker for the unrequited crush/love story trope.
In spite of the sometimes excessive drama surrounding the characters, this for me is still a wonderful story about second chances. If you enjoy that type of trope, then this story is for you. And one more thing, if you're looking for a polished book, then you would be disappointed with this. The writing style wouldn't work for everybody but what it lacks in sophistication, the author's voice strong enough to carry the whole book. Yes, you do get echoes of Kristen Ashley's style but given time, I feel that Ms. Sloan can and will develop her own distinct voice.
Overall, not bad for a debut. Not bad at all. ♥
ARC is provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.