on June 7, 2016
Genres: Adult, Dark, Suspense
Callaghan. A name synonymous with power and fear. A family of untouchable criminals.
As a teenager, Gabriella Forte had no intention of getting to know the town's most dangerous brothers. Once Dustin set his sights on her, she was trapped. There was only one way out of her personal hell.
Declan was determined to break away from his family's shadow. Until he fell in love with the one woman he couldn't have. She changed everything.
Life isn't always kind. Love can hurt. Sometimes you need to sacrifice yourself to protect the people you care about.
It's been twelve years since Declan did the unthinkable and went to prison. He promised to stay away from Gabby and his nephew. That's one vow he can't keep.
Things aren't always what they seem. Facts are only as credible as the person stating them. The truth doesn't always set you free.
Warning: This is a dark romance. If domestic violence bothers you, if you can't read violence in literature, or you are looking for a light and fluffy read, this book is not for you.
I don’t read them often, but when I read a darker story with strong mysterious themes, I want to be so immersed in said story that I forget what’s happening in the read world, and Carina did just that. I find it difficult to put a dark book down and come back to it. Once you get in the mindset to read it, I just want to devour it. Carina kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire ride. There’s plenty of mystery with unanswered questions, questions revolving around certain events, figuring out who can each character trust, will anyone die, etc. but it’s also quite suspenseful as well. There’s a lot of information to take in, but so well worth it. Carina will keep you guessing until the very last page.
“You’re supposed to be afraid of me, Gabs, not afraid for me.”
I need to preface this review by saying that I liked the book. Like, really liked it. I picked up on some small thing that I think need to be addressed (I know some readers who this would drive them bonkers) but do not take these points as dislike for the story. Ultimately, they’re small details where as the story in its entirety is extremely well done and completely compelling.
This is a very nitpicky detail, but it’s small things that tend to bother me the most. More so near the beginning of this story, I had a hard time trying to fire out how old the characters were. It was originally hinted that they were a few years into their thirties. But then at one point, it was mentioned ‘on that fateful day when everything changed,’, but the characters were 18 at the time. After the hero being in prison for 12 years, that would make them thirty. But later on, it said thirty five. And after that, finally seemed to settle upon thirty six.
There was one conversation between two characters that was repeated almost verbatim after a flashback. I sat there for a moment trying to figure out if I was having déjà vu or if I had in fact read that conversation before. Same topic, some of the same sentences and very similar descriptions.
Being completely honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending. I felt like there were still too many things left to talk about or left unsaid. The loose ends weren’t tied up. You’re just left with an ‘oh?’ Kind of feeling. At least there is an epilogue, however, I had a few faults with that as well. First off, the time jump needed to be specified to set the scene. I was a few pages in and confused as hell before there was even a hint as to how far in the future the epilogue was taking place. It was too big of a time gap for me to wrap my head around. We literally got 3 days of the characters together plus some flashbacks, and then this big epilogue (don’t worry, no spoilers). My last thought regarding the ending was that it was too pretty and too cookie cutter. After everything these two had been through, this specific scenario seemed forced to me. I understand wanting an HEA for the couple, but it didn’t fit the couple nor the story, and kind of came out of left field. I would’ve liked to see the ending come to more of a conclusion and the epi be a happy, relevant, brief glance into the future.
“[…] bad guys can be good, and good guys can be bad.”
There was a time or two when there were simply too many characters in one scene. Or at least, discussing too many characters in a scene. This person did this, while this person said this, and they discussed two people and what they did just to try and figure out someone else’s motives and how they might retaliate on person one and their brother. A little confusing, right? There’s a lot of characters included in the flashbacks to keep track of, and it occasionally slipped from being an intense memory or confrontation to a tad bit convoluted.
Can I just talk about the writing in general of this novel really quick? It’s awesome. For something so out of the ordinary to not only immediately catch my attention, but then keep it through some dark and twisting times is a true testament to the author. Bravo Carina, I can’t wait to read something else from you!
“I almost turned away, not wanting to see what happened next, but I was a glutton for punishment.
If I’d looked away, even for a moment, I would have missed the second I fell in love with her.”
With how intense this story is, I expected one Cracker Jack explosion of a climax, but then… Nothin really happened? I can understand the natural progression of the story, but considering all of the suspense, mystery, secrets and build up, I expected something huge. Compared to the rest of the book, this element seemed a bit lack lustre.
I appreciate the connection between these characters and how they’ve never had their chance together. When they were younger, you could just tell they loved each other but unfortunate circumstances kept them apart. It’s long overdue, but they’re both so cute about it (I know, I know, who the heck uses ‘cute’ to describe the relationship in a dark themed novel? I do, apparently!). And I loved the little bits of humour here and there to help break up some of the tension.
“How about you?” he asked. “There some chump wondering what time his girl is coming home tonight?”
“God, no!” I laughed, shaking my head. “Men tend to run away from me as fast as they can.” He didn’t laugh with me, his eyebrows sliding into a frown.
“Probably the same reason you’re single.” I muttered.
“You’re socially awkward and uncomfortable around women after spending a dime in prison too?”
I really enjoyed the setting that the flashbacks created for the present, but some of them seemed to be too long. I understood that the heroine had been beaten, but unless each and every moment of every flashback is adding something new, it may not have been completely necessary. I really wanted to see more of the main characters together, but that couldn’t happen with all of the flashbacks. Perhaps this could have even been made into a duet instead? I’m not sure. I enjoyed it, I really did, but I wanted a bit more present time with the MCs and this is the only place I could think of. Along the same lines with the flashbacks, the formatting needs to be spot on. I’m not sure if it was specifically the early copies, but in some scenes, most of the flashback would be italicized, and some not. Or there would be a small one, all in regular font, nothing italicized. This took some time to try and decipher on more than one occasion.
It is 100% obvious how much work Carina put into this book. With all of the intricacies between the family network, the characters, the business, the rivalries, prison, domestic violence, it’s evident that Carina did her homework, and she knows what she’s talking about. I never once doubted anything she wrote. It takes a ton of time and dedication to pull off this kind of story and this author has definitely done it. Carina grips you from the first page, shakes you around for a while before finally letting you float back down to the ground. It’s like a roller coaster ride, you get off thinking ‘Can I do that again?’, and I definitely would. I not only want to, but will be reading Carina’s other work. I’m off to Amazon now to see what trouble I can get into. 😉
Buy it here: Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK
*An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.