Well, if you’re going to end a series, end it with a huge cymbal rattling bang. With this series, I was never sure who was getting their story next. But once the blurb came out on this one, I was anticipation itself. Ivy was that character that was a jarring note since the moment she was on the scene in the first book. Ivy is Ivy and one in a million. I couldn’t figure her out so getting her story and her perspective was like being handled a treasure trove to delve through. And if Ivy’s story came from a hero that was equal to such a person and the situation was tension-wrought and dire?
So, this was book four in the Burying Water series. It can be read as a standalone just as the others before it. Some of the characters and references are recurring, but the plot thread is new and trust me, Ivy was a mystery even though she has been around since book one.
The story opens with Ivy now living in San Francisco with her crusty uncle and working with him in his tattoo parlor, Black Rabbit. He is tough to love, but then so is she. That said, Ivy does love Ned and for once is considering putting down roots. Then her world goes up in flames when Ned is murdered and Ivy is there hidden in the back to hear and see enough to leave her shaken. Her tough girl persona sees her through some of it, but she is definitely in over her head. That is, until she lets a near stranger past her defenses and trusts Sebastian to help her and so much more even though she knows he is keeping deep, dark secrets.
Sebastian has been a contract killer since he left the military, but still doing the job of keeping people safe through his work. His handler is a man who is like a father to him so when Bentley calls him back to the States for a delicate job, he doesn’t hesitate. But from the moment he hears the assignment and sees the file, he is uneasy. Bentley isn’t his usual self either. Retrieve the compromising tape and clean up any loose strings including the blackmailer’s niece. Sebastian goes into the assignment like any other and won’t let Bentley rush him. He recons Ivy Lee and all the places Ned might have hidden the tape. He isn’t convinced Ivy knows anything more than what the police think- a robbery gone bad or something to do with the local motorcycle club. He gets close to her and soon feels an unwanted attraction to the prickly independent woman who reminds him of himself the way she seals everything off behind her indifferent facade. Sebastian must keep Ivy from learning the truth even while finding the tape to get Bentley and the two bruisers he has sent in besides Sebastian off her back. He now wonders if he might be able to lay his ghosts to rest and come home.
This was a humdinger of a story. It grabbed me in and wouldn’t let go from the first chapter. I think I only put it down once. Whether it was the suspense situation, the intriguing characters, or the even more intriguing romance, I was hooked.
Ivy is the key in this one. She is one tough woman. If she were a plant she’d be a cactus. She’s all bristly and painful to touch on the outside, but soft and vulnerable on the inside. She makes any overtures toward her a hard fought thing. Only the few and strong get past her guard to the real Ivy underneath. The average person probably wouldn’t put the time in with someone like her. Fortunately, Sebastian isn’t average. He has gone through so much that it sucked the life out of his soul. He understands Ivy on a level that she doesn’t even understand herself. He needs her as much as she needs him. Unfortunately, she has no idea who or what Sebastian is and he wonders how bad the fallout will be when, not if, she discovers the truth. Can she still care about the real Sebastian?
Well I don’t know about Ivy, but I sure could. He’s one bad hombre that is hot as sin to boot. He is cold and lethal whether it is ex-military operatives or big bad boy bikers. He wades in and lays them to waste. He takes Ivy’s jabs and tangles her up so that she can’t resist him. He will do anything to keep her safe and protected. Oh yes, Sebastian is a great hero.
Like book two, there is that whole Sword of Damocles thing going on. Sebastian has secrets and Ivy isn’t dumb so as the reader I kept waiting to find out at what point it would all come out and just how awful things would get. I also wondered how Sebastian was going to handle his ‘stuck between a rock and hard place’ assignment. He doesn’t want to let down the man who supported him after everyone else pushed him aside when he left the military including Sebastian’s own dad, but his moral compass won’t let him kill an innocent even for a cover up. He can’t walk away and let others put down an innocent, either. There was so much going on with the situation surrounding that volatile tape. I love how the author slowly unwound this story until the whole truth was out.
In the end, I had that bittersweet taste that I get whenever I thoroughly enjoy a book and it just happens to be the last one in a series. This series of New Adult Romantic Suspense are ones that I highly recommend even to those who don’t read New Adult. The characters are mature, the plot has originality and complexity, the romances are complicated and take their time, the suspense is nail-biter type, and the overall impact can be breath-taking.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.