Review: Caged in Winter by Brighton Walsh

Review: Caged in Winter by Brighton WalshCaged in Winter by Brighton Walsh

Series: #1 Caged in Winter
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance
Published by Berkley on November 4, 2014
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
four-stars

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A very enthusiastic booklover made it clear that this was a must-read and so I took a look at it. I’m usually a blurb reader and for once, that wasn’t the big decision maker here. It was the title that grabbed me. Oh, the recommendation, the debut new to me author and the blurb were factors, but it was the title. I just knew I was going to get a moving story. And I did. That title? It totally has some profound significance too.

The story opens with a poor college partial-scholarship student juggling a full-load and full-time work to finish out her senior year so she can finally break free and reach for those seemingly unattainable dreams and goals she has. If working in a sleazy get-up at a bar frequented by college students keeps a roof over her head and food in her belly, so be it. She puts on that fake smile, deeps with the guys ogling and grabbing at her and deals to get the tips until one night a big behemoth misguided knight in shining armor steps in when a jerk gets grabby and the end result is the lost tip that would have bought groceries. She explodes on him with all her pent-up frustration and anger. She thinks that is the end of it, but it’s only the beginning.

Cade takes a rare night out with his friends for a beer and some pool to decompress. He’s coming down to the wire to finish up school, he’s working hard and caring for his sister and his niece. It’s a heavy burden, but he gladly accepts it instead of taking off to pursue his culinary dreams. He sees a pretty waitress being harassed and steps in. He noticed her before because of the way she didn’t engage and just went through the motions like she was dead inside. What would make a girl be like that? Man does he get the shock of his life when his rescue action is rewarded by fire in her eyes and near hate for his interference. Her explosive response makes him take a hard look and he recognizes what drives her. He recognizes it because that stubborn pride and need to do it all on her own is just like his.

Winter learns that Cade isn’t going to give up no matter how hard she pushes him away. And after a while, she doesn’t want to push him away and that scares her. No letting herself want- even when she sees his little family. No hoping- no matter how consistent he behaves. No attachments! But Cade doesn’t get the memo. He’s patient and chips at her walls a bit at a time. He’s going to leave her or toss her aside, they always do, and then where will that leave her.

The heroine, Winter, started off a bit iffy for me- okay a lot iffy if I’m being honest. Her tough, flinty ‘I am an island-stay out of my space-you don’t know jack and I own all the rights to pathos’ attitude just smacked me in the face from page one. That sort of stuff never appeals to me in general and there are few stories that pull it off for me. I can deal with that if- big if, here- the attitude ends up justified or is at least explainable for me. So the more attitude that swirled off her and the harder she made everything for herself, I truly doubted I’d find the reason worth all that. Getting her first person narration just brought me in that much closer to all this so I didn’t get a break from it.

It was looking pretty bleak for a time and the only thing that kept me reading was the magnificent guy that was her hero- such a hero in every way. Cade also got to narrate and it was like a chance to take a deep breath and relax away from Winter’s edgy emotions. Cade had come through his own losses and was forced to become a responsible man earlier than expected. He’s such a contrast between his outer bad boy image, his chosen career as a chef and his strong, caring nature that just loves on his girls- his sister and his little niece. He has such a big heart and is the only guy in the world that would have seen through Winter’s dead, cold eyes to the potential beneath all the layers of ice. When she couldn’t rescue herself- even if she would have considered herself as needing rescue- Cade was there. He was spring to her winter.

I kept reading because I really wanted her to break down her own walls and grab for that big slice of home-cooked happiness that hadn’t given up on her while she was at her scared, distrustful worst- which yes, I decided would make anyone of us behave in such a manner. She was a survivor and this was a survivor’s triumphal story in a way.

Tell me then! I’m standing here right now waiting for you to tell me. I’ve been here for two months waiting for you to catch up. I’ve been patient; I’ve never once pushed you. Well you want me to push? Fine, I’ll ********push. You’re the one who’s keeping a lid on it, Winter. You’re the one with the key to your own cage. You’re the one keeping yourself locked up tight.”   p. 220 Cade from Caged in Winter

 

I didn’t think it would feel like this. In all the times I’d let myself go down this path, indulge in this daydream, I thought there’d be waves of panic, a crushing weight on my chest, shackles chained to my ankles from being connected to someone. From being the receiving end of someone’s love. There’s too much responsibility, too much faith lying in your actions, too much possibility of heartache.

I didn’t want any of it.

And then Cade came, sweeping his way into my life, imposing and relentless and persistent, and I’m not the same. p.142 Winter from Caged in Winter

 

With a deep sigh, she says, “I’m not right for you, Cade.”

“How about you worry if I’m right for you. Let me decide about the other.”

And then before she can stop me, before she can utter another word of opposition, I slide my hand up her arm, over her shoulders until it’s wrapped around her neck. With my other hand, I swipe a piece of hair back with my fingers, and then lean in, brushing my lips against hers. p.81 Cade from Caged in Winter

This was definitely a feelsy story and the heroine isn’t easy, but she was worth it. The hero? Gah, I was sold the moment he stood in that kitchen and cooked for her. I’m eager to see what happens in the next story for the two intriguing side characters who were doing a bit of dancing around each other in the background.

This one is for those who love a New Adult level story that is emotional, scorchy and a offers a tough fought romance.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

About Brighton Walsh

Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with writing. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Shari Delighted Read

    While I think I might have liked this story, the first person narrative put me off right away. I want to like New Adult stories, but they seem to like this first person narrative style and angsty characters. I want Cade. He seems to be a man dreams are made of and Winter needed to get her butt in gear. I probably will never read another NA book. Unfortunately they just don’t grab my attention any more.

    • Yeah, Winter is a hard sell. She is so caught up in her head and expends tons of energy making her life into a dramatic mess. Cade has gone through some tough stuff too and there is a distinct difference in how they both came out of their separate trials. This one is quintessential NA so yeah…probably not a good one to even attempt trying the genre again.

  • While this isn’t my genre or type of book I appreciate the review.

    • Why thank you, Mary! I know NA isn’t for everyone. It isn’t always for me either. I have to break it up with other stuff.

  • You know I’m not a new adult fan but I have to be honest I am excited to read this one.

    • It’s good, but its also tough. Gird up your patience! I hope you like it.

  • I love the tough win romances…they are at times hard to get through but by the end they are so satisfying!!

    • You nailed it, Renee. This was very satisfying at the end b/c of how hard they had to work for it.

  • This is one I just kept putting off Sophia and could give myself a kick for. I’ll have to pull it up to my Dec read list and give it a go. I’m liking that the title meant something!

    • We talked about this one so you know I pushed it aside for a while too so I was in the mood for how tough her growth arc was going to be. Yeah, that title caught me too and I loved finding out the significance later in the story.