I was primed and ready after reading Killian’s story. I wanted more O’Brien family and happily got it with the start of a whole series about the rapscallion family of brothers and their sister. This is Curran’s story. Curran has an irreverent mouth and he’s a good cop, but something happens leaving him with a darkness in him and a loss of confidence. He is really floored when his hot one night stand from college turns out to be his brother’s intern and Declan has Curran act as part of her protection as they handle a big case against the mob.
This is book one of a new series and can be read just fine as such, but it is a spin-off series to Shattered Past and acts more as a continuation in my mind particularly as characters from books two and three make appearances in this one and refer back to shared events.
The story opens when Curran is put on leave from his regular patrol after the shooting of a rookie cop he was mentoring. His brother, Declan, is an assistant DA and handling a high profile case against the mob. Declan has police protection and wants Curran to be part of the team put on his research assistant intern. Curran isn’t happy, but has no choice. Things begin looking up when he sees that the buttoned up stick up her butt intern is none other than the wild girl in the bedroom back in college that he never forgot. He is amused by her standoffish behavior and blushing glances so he sets out to provoke her out from behind her pretenses and show that woman who tied him to the bed with her argyle socks and made love with wild abandon.
Tess Newart has a goal to finish her law degree and hopefully snag one of the new assistant DA posts opening up. Just six months and she can escape the control of her abusive, but powerful and rich father. The man verbally and emotionally abuses her while controlling everything from how much food she eats, to what she wears, to whether she gets heat in the winter. She is not allowed to form her own relationships and doesn’t even get a cell phone or car. She needs out. But now Curran bursts back into her life. He’s tougher and there is a darkness to him, but he’s strong and capable. She wants him more than ever, but knows she can’t have him. Unfortunately, her resolve weakens as they spend so much time together while he guards her. Now she wants to help him get past what happened so he can heal and maybe in the meantime Curran, his big boisterous family, and the love blossoming can help her heal and find her way out from under her father’s thumb.
Like the Shattered Past series, this one runs deep, but the characters are adult instead of new adult range. The story is still told with first person perspective alternating narrative so it has the same feel. The author takes the time to make the setting of Philly, the O’Brien family, and the new situation really come alive. The local color is there, but not pounded over the reader’s head.
The plot is a combination that includes character development, romance, and a certain amount of suspense. They are interlocking and never over-balance each other so that it works as a whole bit of storytelling and not shifting from element to element.
As to the characters, their flaws and strengths, and their situations, this is where the book shines. The camaraderie of family is strong and I love that it is since the series theme is the O’Brien family. They all went different directions with their lives, but they are still all connected. This is Curran’s story, but Declan, Killian, Finny, and Wren are right there in the background as are his brothers and sisters in blue. Curran is a loud, obnoxious, over the top type that makes me grin because for this bluff Irishman, it works. He is rough and so blue-collar that nobody can see him with a girl like Tess, but when they are together, it really works. He wants to be tough and not admit he needs help for his PTSD, but he finally goes because he wants to be whole again and have Tess’ proud of him and love him.
At first, I was not impressed with Tess. At. all. She was such a timid mouse, but also a little snobby, too, at first. I was aware that she grew up with a controlling father who still worked his fiendish power over her. But as the story progressed, I was able to slip more and more into an understanding of just what it is like for a person who is abused with such finesse, if I can put it that way for how that beast worked her over. She was broken down and re-made, never being allowed to get away from it so that she drank the Kool-Aid. She doesn’t have the skills or the self-confidence to strike out on her own even as an adult though even if she did, her father had contingency plans to keep her in place. It angered me enough to feel homicidal by the time things really hit the high point in this book. I credit the author with the deft way she changed my feelings about the heroine.
So put it altogether and I was most definitely as pleased as could be with this new spin-off series start. Curran is a hot O’Brien brother and I loved to see the beginning of Declan’s thread. Can’t wait for more. Those who enjoy blue collar passion-filled deeply emotional contemporary romance need to give these a try. Start with Shattered Past series if you can.
My thanks to Loveswept for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.