Okay, I chose to venture into something different with this read. I’ve read a few ‘prison’ romances, but usually after the guy was out or escaped or something. This was the first one I picked up when the guy is still doing his time. Call it curiosity or what have you, but I grabbed it up and settled in. For the first half when it is indeed a real prison romance, I was totally into the story and you couldn’t have pried me away even though I saw hints from girlfriend that warned me she was going to disappoint me. And sure enough, she did so the latter half of the story making it not as engaging and tougher to read. And the ending? Well lets just say that I needed a bit more after all that this gal put me through. It had closure to a certain extent, but I still had questions. I think this is a standalone, but I’m not for sure so maybe I just need to be patient for the rest of the story.
The story opens with Anne, who is a librarian in a small rundown town, taking over as the librarian who goes out to the prison once a week to run literacy related classes and be a traveling librarian for the inmates. She has sort of lived in limbo for five years, much like some of the prisoners, due to walking away from an abusive relationship down south where she grew up. This is when she encounters the prisoner who lights her up inside and the strong attraction terrifies her.
They start up a lusty relationship through forbidden letter writing. Anne is in her element. She considers what she is doing safe since Eric is locked away. They both get carried away sharing desires and tiny little snippets about themselves. But then Eric gets an early parole…
Anne panics to know that things have just gotten real. Eric lets her decide about everything including whether to walk away. He’s understanding even though he makes it clear that for him, all they shared hadn’t been a fantasy; it had been real and he was committed. She dithers for a time and then decides to take it slow. However, she is consumed with the fact that Eric isn’t remorseful for his actions and refuses to give her the details that she feels she is entitled to. She knows it was in defense of his sister, but she seems to need more. In the meantime, events come full circle and push Annie hard to think through what they have, what she can live with and what she can’t live without.
I enjoyed how the author put together the general plot. This is no fairy tale and for that I’m glad. The reader and Annie are hit with reality and that’s the only way I could have connected with a story involving a prisoner and this situation. Annie’s early fear and caution made perfect sense and I was glad to see her exhibit that sort of caution. After all, he is a convicted felon and he could totally be playing her. So self-preservation? Good and smart.
Eric is a well-written multi-faceted character with flaws and strengths. Eric did what he was jailed for and he came from a rough background. He really is going for change in his life, but he is honest and unremorseful. It’s a theme of vigilante justice and how people feel about it. I was entranced by these aspects. He’s a different sort of lover in that he very much wants to love on and please Annie. He can get passionate- oh great sexual drought can he, but he’s not arrogant and alpha really. I found him refreshing in that way and unexpected since I would have assumed a guy who came through prison would have been edgier.
What I wasn’t entranced with was Annie after like I was with Annie before the parole. She saw the rough side of a man when he abused her and tries to tell herself that she doesn’t see every man that way and tries to tell herself a lot of other high-minded things. She’s big on seeing what she wants to see while not reconciling these hamster wheel thoughts with her gut and heart. This story is told first person from her side of things and knowing deep down that she didn’t believe half of what motivated her just left me frustrated and disgusted with her. Tinkle or get off the potty, lady, and quit jerking the poor guy around. She was so fixated on him taking the law into his own hands. I would have respect for someone if that’s a hang up because yeah, vigilantism can get out of control and off track fast, but if that’s how you feel then end it already. Ugh! Move the heck on, already. But instead, the second half of this story is her not moving on and yet holding onto Eric in a sort of emotion torture. It bogged the story down and left me just begging for it to end. Well, she does end up coming to some decisions so I don’t want to paint her all bad, but it took a heck of a long time so be patient I guess is the best advice with her.
So in the end, this book comes out likeable to average out how I loved the first half and struggled through the second. I still feel it’s a great read for those who want to see what a prisoner romance is like and hey, maybe Annie won’t be such a stick in the craw to others. I like the author’s writing so I’ll definitely check out more of what she’s got.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for an honest review.
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