For a few years now, I have glanced at this author’s books and thought they looked good, but didn’t quite get to the sticking point. However, I took one look at the blurb on this one and said, ‘It is time…’
Annie is consumed by fear and nearly broken by her past, but she lands in a dead-end trailer park outside a small unremarkable town in North Caroline and all she feels is relief and the hope of finally getting some peace. Then she answers a stranger’s phone that was left by the previous occupant of her trailer. The enticement of the forbidden yet safety of the anonymous wraps around her as she keeps up the sizzling encounters with the mysterious ‘Dylan’ over the phone. Dylan challenges her to embrace her wild side and step out of the box she has hidden in for so long. Dylan makes no promises and he warns her sharply not to let this go beyond what it is. She never planned to get involved. Not with Dylan and not with the others at her trailer park. Now she’s in too deep to go back.
Dylan is a monster and comes from a family of monsters. He has remained isolated on top of his mountain with only the cars and his crew of workers for company. One phone call with ‘Layla’ changes it all. He knows she is lying to him, but somehow he doesn’t think she is lying about her reaction to him or what they do and say on the phone. But she is pure and he will not taint that goodness. There is so much more going on and he will protect her from it and protect her from him.
I was sucked into this story from page one. It was an intimate story told in alternating first person point of view. It was hot and illicit and it made me squirm just from reading each new encounter between this pair. I loved how the anonymity of only connecting on the phone and both hiding anything personal ratcheted up the heat. But it got better when they started to crack and let each other in.
The minor characters were compelling. I particularly enjoyed those hard-bitten, but surviving folk at Annie’s trailer park. Much about Dylan’s life is still in shadows though several twists revealed a little more about him. I appreciated the gritty, raw, and flawed feel to the world of characters. They have their hopes, dreams, no-longer dreams, and living with the repercussions of mistakes- in essence, they are human. I found the treatment of matters such as domestic abuse and violence (which if these are issues for you be warned because it’s pretty much the theme of the book even if there are no direct violence scenes) for those in the situation and survivors was handled carefully, respectfully, but honestly. Annie doesn’t change overnight and not even close to that even by the end of this first book and there is a lot left to come when it comes to Dylan.
As to the romance, they might have spent most of it apart and resisting close contact, but whew! It was hot stuff. Annie’s education into the erotic side left me as flustered by Dylan as she was. That man has his issues, but he certainly knows how to give a girl a good time with just his voice alone. But as hot as it got, there was a strongly developing relationship. And about that relationship, I suppose technically there is infidelity and adultery as Annie is still married to the fiend who abused her. I put that out there for those who might find that problematic for their reading. These two fought and pulled away from having anything together, but it was there. This book shows the beginnings of them helping each other to heal and also the hope for another chance at happiness.
And that brings me to the part where I growl at the author. Yes, Virgina, there is a cliffhanger! I blame myself for nearly tumbling off that cliff. Sorta. I got so caught up in the story that I didn’t notice that I was running out of pages with no denouement in sight. But that last shocking scene? Give me the next book now!!!! How could you leave me like that? Good thing the second installment comes out soon.
All in all, this was riveting, scorching hot, and suspenseful. Not sure if this is romantic suspense, but it felt like it so I’ll recommend it to that crowd as well as the erotic romance lovers.
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.