Five years ago we lived in the same house. He was the ultimate bad boy. And my foster brother.
Now he’s back. Tougher, harder, meaner. All of it aimed at me, because I was the one who sent him away. It’s payback time. He wants his pound of flesh, and I am helpless to say no.
Readers who like their stories steamy, with plots that aren't cookie cutter, and characters that are complex and full of inner conflict will be drawn to this dark and angsty read. It's a read that's not always easy as it deals with intense emotions and the darker aspects of life, but it's one that pulls you in from the first page to the last.
Though this book is the second installment in Ms. Warren's Stripped series it can stand on its own as the author, from the very first page, jumps right into the action through the heroine's viewpoint. Through this heroine, Lola, we discover a tale full of pain and sadness that's made her who she is today. Being stuck in the foster care system as a child led to a lot of dark moments that have given her trust issues along with lots of painful memories that have hardened her heart. The only bright spot was the time she shared a home with Blue...and even that ended badly as her lie sent him away. She's a survivor though, a woman not proud of being a stripper but doing what she has to to care for the woman who represents family to her. She always saw Blue as her savior but his becoming bouncer at her club makes him a threat as she suspects he's back for revenge for her long-ago words. It's ultimately a dark revenge he's after focused on her body that leaves her conflicted as she understands his anger but is still drawn to him. As their sexual encounters become hotter, past feelings bubble to the surface blurring the lines between revenge and love. Through it all Lola remains a strong-willed woman you can't help but root for after all she's survived. Her conflict over Blue's attentions to her are understandable as their connection is crackling and full of sexual tension that had me hoping they'd find HEA.
Blue is the quintessential anti-hero as he oozes darkness and rage early on. Being around Lola leaves him conflicted though as years of anger have made him the brutal and dangerous man he is today. His words towards Lola aren't always kind but remembrances of the feelings he once had for her leave him protective of her and wanting the only man touching her to be himself. Blue's not always likable, with words sometimes cruel and hurtful, but he's larger than life and his mere presence drives this story and kept me captivated despite his bad behavior. It's his flashes of care and concern towards Lola, along with his posessiveness, that had me hoping for their HEA and his intense sexuality and talent for taking dirty that had me fully immersed in their deepening relationship. From start to finish readers will be intrigued by Blue despite his obvious flaws as there's a good man hiding behind a mountain of pain. His journey towards self-acceptance and moving past years of pain and anger is a rewarding one made richer with the possibility of sharing it with the one woman he truly cared for.
My rating for this is a B+
*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.