by Anne Jolin
Series: Rock Falls #4
Pub. Date: Mar. 2, 2015
Peyton Callaghan is a fighter, a survivor, a warrior. When it was kill or be killed, she didn’t hesitate. Now, she’s the only one left standing, haunted by the ghost of a dead man and plagued with the guilt of having taken another person’s life. The upheaval of her life to start over in Rock Falls has been rocky at best, her worst nightmares and wildest desires colliding with each other. Terror tortures her nightly, breeding fear inside her dreams, and in every waking moment, she fights against the lust that threatens to drown her.
Jayden King harbors secrets beneath his outward playboy demeanor. The women who warm his bed lay claim to nothing—you can’t lay claim to someone who doesn’t have a heart. His wit and charm are exquisite means of deflection and distraction from the turmoil roaring inside him. He’s hidden in plain sight, a mask of humor keeping the sadness at bay. The only real reflections of his soul are in the artwork he creates, pieces of him muraled on the skin of others. If tattoo artists could have a calling card, the etch of pain and suffering in each design would be his. Because when the lights go out and the women he’s satisfied have gone home, he’s alone with every fear he refuses to face.
After suffering from a brutal attack at the hands of her roommate’s stalker, Peyton is forced to live with the object of her affection. Without intention, she breathes love into his starved heart, and although the mere thought of that terrifies him, Jayden would burn the city down to keep her safe, causalities be damned.
Some people you have. Some people you hold.
She can have him. She can hold him. But can she keep King? Or is it impossible for Callaghan to keep something that was never really hers to begin with?
I read this whole series within about 24 hours. These were quick reads about a group of tattooed alpha males who seemingly all had maaaggic sticks (if you know what I mean). Anne Jolin writes some very unique alpha males in that they all have a healthy dose of vulnerability.
This book coincides with the ending of Breaking Bennett, where Peyton was attacked in her condo by Beth's creepy stalker dad. Peyton is a tortured heroine, which was eluded to in previous books with her nightmares and reserved personality. In this installment, we uncover Peyton's past and her reason for moving to Rock Falls. I liked her character, well, I have liked all the heroines in this series. She is a survivor, and I liked that she was willing to step out of the box and go after Jay. But I was missing a bit of a connection with this one, which I will explain below.
In previous books, Jay was the jokester of the group, always flirty and fun. He is an alpha male tattoo artist who provided the comic relief. However we now learn that his outward demeanor is hiding old wounds from a tragic event that happened when he was a teenager. Jay is totally different in this book - no more joking Jay. He is serious and vulnerable. Very vulnerable. There is alpha male ugly crying again like in Chasing Rhodes (but for different reasons obviously). I'm still not sure how I feel about weepy alpha males - they make me uncomfortable.
So there were quite a few purple passages in this one that took me out of the story, which is what caused the disconnect that I mentioned above. For example, this is our alpha male speaking to his intended in a conversation:
I refuse to live my life buried under the weight of mediocrity. I refuse to be adequately unremarkable in a world rich with awe-inspiring possibilities. I will take advantage of every breath and every moment I steal from the sun and borrow from the stars. The day I met you was the day the stillness in my heart shook, the hope in my chest waking, and with time, you've breathed love back into my soul.
While I don't always mind purple prose, these types of passages threw me out of the alpha male tattoo artist world. I just don't think people talk like this and, while it may be poetic and pretty, it seemed out of place in this type of book. I know it works for some people, but it didn't work for me in this instance. The series had a few of these purple passages in the last book, Breaking Bennett, but I was able to overlook them easier because I loved the hero so much. In this one, Jay did not grab me as strongly so I didn't have that laser focus and was looking around a bit.
I still love the series and am happy to have found this author. I am also looking forward to reading the next installment, Saving Steele, next year. There is a bit of a cliffhanger for Jackson's character at the end of this book and I am really excited to see where that is going.