NOTE: The book reviewed contains themes only appropriate for those above the age of majority.
This was finally a dark romance that met all my expectations and more.
For starters, the plot with its twists and turns was well-thought through and made sense as did both main and other characters’ choices – there was a good reason behind every decision and outcome.
It was actually dark, as in the criminals really were criminals, and there was kidnapping, murder, and very dubious consent involved, among other things.
And yet, the solid development of the romance angle made me root for Abby and Grayson so hard from the very beginning, because their connection was virtually tangible on all levels, from physical to intellectual and spiritual, and they (as well as other characters) felt alive, fleshed out in all their badness, goodness, and everything in between, with their backstories getting slowly revealed in exquisite pieces in just the right spots over the course of the story.
I loved Abby, who is smart and brave, but also very aware of her anxieties and limits. And my heart broke for Grayson and his ‘crew’ even when they were darn terrifying. And speaking of his crew, they are such a rich ensemble of supporting characters that aren’t just stock chess figures but come to life on the page even with their limited time and roles – and I am so looking forward to reading more about them (as I see there is at least one more book already out, and hopefully more to come.)
And, as the cherry on top of it all, the book is not just well, but beautifully written.
The ending is not your traditional hearts-and-flowers HEA, but is still very much a happily-ever-after in a way that fits these two characters (even if not one we would want to imagine for ourselves.)
So, both gutting and heart-warming, this is an exceptional, clever story which I would highly recommend for those not of faint heart who want a look at the dark side of romance.