This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Indie/Self Published
Released on September 17, 2013
I love reading Tori’s stories about her skilled operatives who run coldly lethal when on the job, but heat up the sheets. Each new installment in this series offers up another example of a delicious twisty tale to make me hold my breath in suspense or make me fan my heated body after a passionate scene. I could tell from the outset that this one was going to be a little different from the others when it tells more of a personal story for one of the Black Opals. Not that it was lacking in the suspense department, but the suspense was not as strong of an influence on the story as the relationship that started in Jayce’s past.
The story opens with Jayce, the Black Opals’ demo specialist, taking his enforced leave by going home for his sister’s wedding. This puts him in a lousy mood that just gets worse when the woman who walked away from him with no explanation walks through the door of the bar right into the arms of his ex-bestfriend.
Alyssa can’t believe it. Jayce! The man she never stopped loving is there in front of her with all the pain of her betrayal in his eyes to see her in the arms of Brice. Just the sight of Jayce threatens to bring back all that she hid away in her mind from ten years ago, but he is a sight for sore eyes that she can’t help desiring more than ever. She wants just one more night with him and by his expression he still wants her too.
Jayce can’t believe that he agrees to be with Alyssa and not just her, but a shared experience with Brice. He’ll do this just once because he still wants her, but then he needs to get away from her before she manages to crush his heart into rubble a second time. Unfortunately, their night though passionate and wonderful only complicates matters and his plan to distance himself is nixed too when he discovers that Alyssa is in danger. Her office and home have been broken into and she is being threatened. It could be her shady client that sits in prison or the mobster that Brice works for or even an unknown. Least ways, he takes Brice up on his request to deal with their home security issues and calls in Kane, one of the Black Opals for help. And then things escalate both in Jayce and Alyssa’s fiery contest of wills over their past and the danger threatening Alyssa. Jayce may save her life, but only she can save their second chance at a relationship.
Alrighty- my thoughts on this book. I am really torn over what to say. Well first of all, the plot was tight like the others, the characters were intense and engaging and the romance/relationship was smoking hot. The suspense elements were a tangled bunch that left me surprised by the twists that were revealed in the end. In fact, that one twist that Jayce’s boss sprung on him was set aside and I hope it continues in the next book. The story is told from both Jayce and Alyssa’s perspectives.
Now as to what had me torn from giving this one my complete stamp of approval, it pretty much came down to how much I despised the heroine’s character and her choices and oh, let’s not forget the weak, enabling best friend, Brice. She was one of the most selfish, insecure characters I have read in a long time that wasn’t a villainess. It wasn’t just that she was flawed (I actually like reading about flawed characters); it was what those flaws are. For over 275 pages, she refused to do anything, but cry, wring her hands and jerk people’s hearts around. Alyssa had a terrible thing happen to her in her past, her parents blamed her as a result though it wasn’t her fault and that will do ugly things to a person forever. She made a stupid decision in her past to push Jayce away because her head wasn’t on straight. I get that too. But…it’s her present actions that disgusted me. She’s had ten years (yes, ten) to get things sorted, but she’s still a huge hot mess that is so far up the River Denial about her issues. Until she took care of the past and her issues, she had no business dragging Jayce’s heart and feelings through the wringer a second time. She loved him so it was okay to take, take, take and give a pittance. She could see what she was doing to him- saw it and acknowledged it, but went after what she wanted anyway. She even forced him to participate in a menage if he wanted to be with her ignoring that neither guy wanted to be with her and each other that way. Not that the menage was the problem; it was the reason for the menage that bugged me. She wouldn’t let him protect his heart and got mad and hurt when he pulled away so it ended up being Jayce who felt sorry for hurting her feelings. She kept grasping for more even as she refused to give him more. She carted her security blankie, Brice, around and that one I just didn’t get either. I’m with Jayce on that- she could tell Brice and lean on him for ten years, but not the guy who loved her. Makes no sense. She sobbed all over Jayce and Brice and went to pieces, but she kept holding information back making things harder for Jayce to help. Then when she’s in the thick of danger…’I think I’ll go for a jog all by myself because I’m suddenly tough girl’. Not.Bright. I got to the point where I thought Alyssa and Brice deserved each other and Jayce deserved a better woman who would cherish his loyal heart and not cram his best friend down his throat. Alyssa, the hot mess and Brice, the supposed friend who was too soft and infective, both drove me crazy. I didn’t like her for Jayce and not even the end convinced me. It’s a testament to the writer’s strong talent that she brought such intense emotions out in me in regard to her characters. Never was I bored or indifferent which is so much worse in my eyes.
Okay, yes, got that off my chest. It probably makes me sound like I hated the story. I didn’t. Didn’t love it to death, but didn’t hate it. I’m still insatiable for more from this series and am chomping at the bit for the next Black Opals.
Before I wrap-up, I do want to warn those who might have discomfort with rape that gang rape is in Alyssa’s past. It is not described in detail, but she does have flashbacks to bits and pieces.
All in all, those who love scorching hot and dark gritty romantic suspense where the romance and suspense are equally engaging really need to try this series.
Special thanks to Tori St. Claire for providing her book in exchange for an honest review.
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