Each new release in this series leaves me in awe of the raw emotion they evoke in me. They are powerful, engaging and passionate from cover to cover. This books brings it on home for two characters that have been about since the first book.
Sofia Tres Santos the youngest of the three battered children of the monster Carlos also has the additional burden of being a rape survivor. She is like fragile glass and this is her time to take back what someone snatched away from her. No more piteous looks or ‘poor Sofia’s for her. Killian O’Brien has loved Sofia since she was the little girl across the street begging him to be her friend. They grew up together and he was there for her until that one time. Now he has a new chance with Sofia when she walked into his gym offering her help to jump start his business. He will do whatever it takes and move as slowly as he must to work his way past her fears and tortured mind to her heart.
This is the third book in the series and could be read out of order, but seriously, don’t. They are all beautiful, fantastic covers and so worth getting all of them. Plus the presence of Sofia’s family and their situation will make better sense.
The story opens with Sofia agreeing to help Killian set up a website and computer programs to help him with his business after he bought a gym for MMA fighter training and to act as his own training facility. He is in fine condition and she can’t quite believe it when he shows a decided interest in Sofia. She’s a shy, quaking mess at the best of times, but Killian is patient and his interest doesn’t wane. No matter how many times she trembles and freaks out on him, he sticks with her and she starts to believe they are building something strong. His big, warm, loud and supportive Irish family are right there for her too especially when his world of big Atlantic City and Vegas bouts are scary things to her and she is a bundle of nerves that he will get hurt. He also pushes her to learn from his sister how to defend herself insisting that it will help her get a bit of her own back. All is going well, but she knows that she is keeping dirty, dark secrets and Killian has a few of his own. Unfortunately, such secrets are the kind that will rip good things to shreds and leave two people aching for the chance at love they have lost.
The story is told first person from Sofia’s point of view until the epilogue when it switches to Killian. This is both good and difficult. Sofia was physically abused by her father as a child and is a rape survivor and she went to a dark place after that happened. She trembles with fear and hates herself for it. She hates being treated with pity, but can’t seem to show the world a different person that is strong and confident. She definitely doesn’t see herself as someone who can ever get intimate with a man again even if the man is Killian.
But this is a story of triumph and it is shy, gentle Sofia’s story of working through everything. It’s tough because a lot of it is baby steps and her mind is full of ugly thoughts that drive her to put a spin on how she sees things particularly with Killian. Though to be fair, Killian has some issues too.
Killian for all of being weighted down by guilt and remorse still manages to be the strong, bright, shining star for Sofia. He is her anchor and he pushes through all the roaring fury and fear in her mind. He knows how to apologize when he screws up and he can handle her fearful rebuffs when he just wants to love on her. It shatters him to see her terrified of him and so many things so he works to help her find her own strength- the strength he knows is already there. He truly is a champion and not just in an MMA octagon ring. He is also a passionate man and figures out how to bring that out of the hesitant and innocent Sofia who desperately wants to know how to be with Killian. Wow, I really loved their romance and individual triumphs.
This book is a bit of a transition piece as it shows the shift in which direction the story is turning. I say that because Killian’s five brothers and sisters were a hoot. The O’Brien siblings were a huge part of this story and I am so excited to know that they will get their own stories in a spin-off series now that all the Tres Santos siblings are done.
All in all, this one squeezed my heart, but felt so good when the end came. It was a hard fought gritty battle for love and I was satisfied to see it come in the end. This is New Adult Contemporary Romance and it is some of the best out there that I have no problem recommending to those who already love the genre and those who just get into a deep, captivating contemporary romance.
My thanks to Loveswept and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #188 NA
Cliché Klatch #107 ‘arm-flailed on the inside’
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