Review: Unforgiven by Jay Crownover

Posted March 6, 2020 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 20 Comments

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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Unforgiven by Jay Crownover
Unforgiven

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
four-flames


Series: Loveless, Texas #2
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Western Romance
Published by Forever
Released on February 25, 2020
Pages: 433
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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The Delight

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.


Review

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.

View Spoiler »

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.


Challenges Met

New Release #22
Literary Pickers #43 BFF’s sibling romance
Romanceopoly #16 BFF’s House
Romance BINGO #17 second chance


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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.

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Debbie Haupt
Debbie Haupt
7 months ago

Oh I love hate those kind of characters Sophia Rose, so far off your own compass but still you gotta give them an atta girl right? Thanks for the great review I don’t think it was confusing and i love your phrase the elephant in the book really perfect for this review.

Sophia Rose
7 months ago
Reply to  Debbie Haupt

You cut through my confusing ramblings perfectly, Debbie. Yes, I had to search hard for common ground with Kody, but I really wanted her to heal and get her happy.

Mary Kirkland
7 months ago

Sounds like Kody has a big personality and shows several sides of herself. This sounds like a good book.

Sophia Rose
7 months ago
Reply to  Mary Kirkland

She sure does. I think that was what made the end especially triumphant even though it left things open for the mystery.

sherry fundin
7 months ago

i do enjoy a bumpy ride, especially when it comes to romance. 🙂
sherry @ fundinmental

Sophia Rose
7 months ago
Reply to  sherry fundin

Then buckle up if you grab this one, Sherry. 🙂

Lorna
Lorna
7 months ago

I so don’t like characters like Kody. But it sounds like she changes for the better in the end. I tend to run the other way from books with a cowboy on the cover as it’s just usually not my thing. I have read a book by this author awhile back and liked it. I’m glad you are enjoying the series-mostly.

Sophia Rose
7 months ago
Reply to  Lorna

Yeah, she was one tough cookie, but she does finally get a clue. It’s Texas and its small town setting, but he’s a Texas Ranger and the first book the hero is the sheriff so you’d probably enjoy these, Lorna. 🙂

Jenea’s Book Obsession

I have to say, from the sounds of your review, this would be something I would enjoy. I do like the flawed characters and watching them grow. I’m curious if my library has this series. Have a great weekend!

Sophia Rose
7 months ago

So glad to put you onto one that might be a perfect fit for you, Jenea. 🙂 She’s a pretty popular author so maybe your library will at least have book one for you to try.

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer

I enjoyed this one, but yes, she had some growing up to do. I am an adult and can handle things myself, but how she did it …eek gads.

Sophia Rose
7 months ago

Yeah, I felt shock so often. LOL But, she made it in the end.

Rachel @Waves of Fiction

It did give me pause when Kody hauled off and hit Hill, too. Not mature and not right just because she’s a woman. I did really love this story otherwise. I agree, Hill was awesome. I can’t wait for Shot’s story with the straight laced doctor!

Sophia Rose
7 months ago

I admit the hitting really set me off, but I did love this book. And, yes, need Shot’s story. 🙂

Anne - Books of My Heart

I really want to read this series. A romantic suspense western. I like this author too. Someday. I thought I might catch up and review this second book. Nope.

Sophia Rose
7 months ago

Yes, it was fun to see it blending contemporary western with romantic suspense. I really struggled with this one, but I can’t wait for the next book.

Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

I’m enjoying this series, like you, and can’t wait for Shot’s story and the suspense to continue! I can see why you struggled with Kody’s character a bit. I loved Hill, and boy was he patient with her. I didn’t like the way she treated him at the beginning, and my heart hurt for the way she blamed him.

Sophia Rose
7 months ago

Yay a fellow fan! 🙂 I can’t wait for Shot and the doc.

Yes, she was really lost for so long there and he waited all that time with no hope. That really great that she turned it around and he got his dream girl, too. 🙂

Carole Rae
7 months ago

Couldn’t resist in reading the spoiler. Oooo Kody. I love flawed characters but I know I would want to shake them!

Sophia Rose
7 months ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

I really did want to shake her until her teeth rattled. But, I figured I’d do a spoiler so people could skip my frustration details. 🙂