This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Western Romance
Published by Forever
Released on February 25, 2020
We met them in Justified and their chemistry was off the charts caliente in spite of the fire of Kody’s anger and the dreariness of Hill’s guilt, but with her dad’s death, Kody’s rules for holding her hatred and anger against Hill are about to be broken by both of them. I was excited to keep going with a series and author I only just discovered for myself and she delivered on a rather tough unrequited love second chances romance.
Unforgiven is the second in the Loveless, TX series and flows right on out of the first book even though there is a new main couple. So, not the best place to jump into the series, but the reader could get by with it in a pinch.
Conrad Lawson has been murdered and his three surviving children have a tumult of feelings over his death. He was never a good man and never toward his kids, but even wildly emotional Kody wants his murderer found. But that means sharing a town with the man she has flung hate and vitriolic anger on for years because it was easier to hate Hill and blame him for his brother’s death and abandoning her than admit that she wanted him even before she noticed his brother, Aaron. She couldn’t bring herself to even try for Hill out of misplaced feelings that she didn’t deserve a good guy after the regular abuse she had in the Lawless family and knowing her dad was a crooked cop. Instead, she put all her messed up love into his brother who was just as broken and messed up as she was. Hill was the solid foundation that she and Aaron both leaned on for years even after Hill left and got his place in the Texas Rangers until inexplicably Hill slowly shut her out. He felt badly for having his own life and not being there for her and Aaron and she knew it was unfair to blame him, but it was better than letting her other feelings surface. If only that were the only troubles going on, but she was the wild Lawson and impetuous bad decisions were her forte. What would Hill think if he knew how she kept her bar afloat or that she wanted him even more than she hated him?
My review is going to seem contrary and maybe confusing. I felt the need to warn readers up front. Fasten your seat belts and prepare for a bumpy ride.
I warily hitched up my belt to wade into Kody and Hill’s story. I was well aware she was a hot mess times ten and it was never so evident as getting her point of view in this book. I thought I was prepared and would be able to handle it to get the story. I really wanted to see her heal and get over what was separating her from a man worthy to be trusted and her family who stayed loyal and understanding through her life and had even grown more so with her brother’s new loving relationships with their womenfolk.
The truth is without Hill’s narration and Hill’s strong presence, her family, and the ongoing series arc plot, I probably would have set this book aside. The author’s writing and the way she wrote her characters, relationships, and the surrounding story were just as fab as the first book.
But, back to the elephant in the book. From a technical perspective, Kody’s character and her story are amazing. I was awed by the genuineness and vibrant woman who stormed into the first book and stayed larger than life in her own. She is fully fleshed out and her flaws blaze forth as bright as her, at first, few redeeming qualities. The author achieved the quintessential flawed heroine that comes straight out of real life and there is not a whiff of soft romantic gestures or swoon around her. The fact is Kody is one of those difficult people and isn’t easy to get close to because she is prickly and closed off even while being a blustery loud mouth who struts her style and her stuff. Reckless about her own life and not giving a care about others half the time though she wasn’t lacking in heart or generosity when she gave a couple downtrodden people jobs and rooted hard for her brothers’ relationships.
I’m going to rant for a bit to explain why I had deep concerns about this heroine even though part of me aches for her and could appreciate her in the end so turn aside or skip down if you must.
So, the romance itself. Naturally, it takes more than half the book before any signs of actual romance take place and whew boy do this pair steam things up when they finally do cut loose. I will say that Kody really impressed me a few times after I’d all but given up on her. When she stepped up to be honest with herself about her feelings for Hill, she was careful with him. She came clean and had a hard conversation before starting anything lasting with him because she knew that he was vulnerable when it came to his feelings for her. She was so great about letting him set things up to keep her safe and that he had to rush off to work the case. She ended up being as strong and independent as she pretended to be back at the beginning of the book, but this time it was real. I thought that was beautiful how the author brought out that nuance about Kody.
Now, I can’t wait to get Shot’s story after that big ending involving a certain stiff and stodgy doctor and the charismatic biker.
So, this was a book I have mixed feelings about, but no doubt that it was a book I am so glad I got the chance to read. The writing was abso-fab, the characters larger than life in all their complexities, the sexy romance was hotter than a firecracker and just as explosive, and the ongoing suspense has me hooked in. I can heartily recommend the book/series.
My thanks to Forever for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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