This gets a serious lip curl from me – I did not like it AT ALL. It’s very rare that I dislike a book so much within the first few chapters, but that was definitely the case here. I continued on because I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series, but things did not improve, and I ended up skimming a significant amount of the back half. There are SO MANY things that rubbed me the wrong way, and I honestly feel like most of the relationship development happened in the books prior to this. These two are already inevitable when the book begins – Hattie just needs to say yes… and Axl needs to stop sleeping with the girl he’s seeing.
Fair warning: there are several triggers in this book, from abuse to self harm to stalking to kidnapping – and beyond. The story follows Hattie and Axl, two people who have been dancing around their feelings. After Hattie rejected Axl, he started seeing someone else, but he still thinks about her all the time and butts into her life in a big way. This (toxic) alpha male just can’t seem to stay out of Hattie’s business, so when she starts receiving some scary messages and hanging out with a questionable guy, Axl is quick to intervene. Once Hattie starts letting Axl in, it’s not long before they’re crossing the line and starting up a relationship.
I just… didn’t like anything that happened in this. It felt SO, SO toxic, and very cringeworthy. I’m not a longtime KA fan, but I’ve always heard such great things about her work. Dream Maker WAS a pretty solid read, so I expected a LOT more from this. I skipped Dream Chaser because of the Dom/sub storyline, and apparently most of Hattie and Axl’s feelings must’ve developed during that book, because it certainly didn’t happen here. This jumps right in with Hattie befriending her former kidnapper (did I read that right?), and Axl trying to win Hattie over despite the fact that he already has a woman in his life. There are tons characters from past books included, and it’s just assumed that you’ll already know everyone. There was nothing good for me to latch onto here, so it was a total miss for me. I do enjoy KA’s unique writing style, but storyline-wise? No thank you. I received an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this suspenseful romance.
In this steamy and emotional contemporary romance from a New York Times bestselling author, two damaged souls must overcome the pain of their pasts to have the love they’ve always dreamed of.
Hattie Yates has finally met the man of her dreams. Yet years of abuse from her demanding father have left her petrified of disappointment. She’s already failed to reach her goal of becoming a professional ballerina—she can’t handle the terrible consequences of another dream becoming a nightmare. But when a stalker sets their sights on Hattie, there’s only one man she dares to hope can help . . .
Axl Pantera knows Hattie is the only woman for him. Yet despite the attraction burning between them, Hattie refuses to let him in. The former soldier is determined to woo her into letting down her walls. And when danger comes calling, he’s up against more than her wary and bruised heart. Axl will do anything to prove to Hattie that they’re meant to be, but first, he’ll need to keep her safe.
“Yo, Axe,” Hawk greeted.
“You got a minute?”
In answer, Hawk tipped his head to the chair opposite his desk and tossed his phone on the top of it.
Since Hawk rarely sat, the men who visited him didn’t either.
But for this, Axl closed the door behind him after he entered, moved to a chair, and put his ass in it.
Hawk watched this, and he hesitated, but then he joined him, sitting behind his desk.
“Is everything cool?” Hawk asked.
“I got a sitch. Personal. And I was hoping you might talk it through with me. Maybe have some insight.”
“Hit me,” Hawk invited.
And there was one of the bennies of working for Cabe “Hawk” Delgado.
He was a good boss, generous with his knowledge, gave credit where it was due, didn’t get in your face if you fucked up and held up your hand that you did…
And he had time for you even when he didn’t.
“I met Hattie’s dad last night.”
Hawk’s lips thinned.
His boss might not be in on their chats, but not much happened with his crew that Hawk didn’t know about.
So he knew about Don Yates.
“I got blindsided,” Axl told him.
“How?” Hawk asked.
“He loves her, Hawk.”
Hawk held his gaze a beat before he sat back in his chair.
This was going to be a conversation.
Hawk’s voice was lower when he inquired, “He loves her, and he hits her?”
Axl shook his head. “I got no excuse for that. Or the verbal abuse he keeps doling out. What I know is, recently, he called her a whore.”
“Jesus,” Hawk clipped.
“She didn’t tell me that. She told Ryn, Ryn told Boone. And I got it from Boone. But before…” He paused, then got to it, “I can’t step in with her dad. She knows their relationship is dysfunctional. She feels beholden. I could only have her back. Until I heard that. Then I shared I was going to have to have words with her father.”
“Good,” Hawk murmured.
“Then I got there, and the man was practically beaming, he was so fuckin’ happy Hattie brought her boyfriend over to meet him.”
“Fuck,” Hawk grunted.
“So we sat down. He gave me the ‘What do you do for a living’ and ‘How’d you meet my daughter’ gig. I answered. All was good. Then I told him I couldn’t have him upsetting Hattie like he did by calling her a whore. He tried to explain it by saying he was in a bad mood. I told him, in future, if he was in a bad mood, he needed not to take that out on Hattie.”
“On your first meeting,” Hawk noted.
“On our first meeting,” Axl confirmed.
“Which happened…what? How long have you been seeing her? A few days?”
“You laid down the law with your woman’s father the first time you met him after you’ve been with her a few days,” Hawk laid it out.
“Christ, Axe, you don’t fuck around,” Hawk muttered.
About the Author:
Kristen Ashley is the New York Times bestselling author of over sixty romance novels including the Rock Chick, Colorado Mountain, Dream Man, Chaos, Unfinished Hero, The ’Burg, Magdalene, Fantasyland, The Three, Ghost and Reincarnation, Moonlight and Motor Oil and Honey series along with several standalone novels. She’s a hybrid author, publishing titles both independently and traditionally, her books have been translated in fourteen languages and she’s sold over three million books.
Kristen’s novel, Law Man, won the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award for best Romantic Suspense. Her independently published title Hold On was nominated for RT Book Reviews best Independent Contemporary Romance and her traditionally published title Breathe was nominated for best Contemporary Romance. Kristen’s titles Motorcycle Man, The Will, Ride Steady (which won the Reader’s Choice award from Romance Reviews) and The Hookup all made the final rounds for Goodreads Choice Awards in the Romance category.
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