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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
For those of you who read Drawn, you know we were left with a massive cliffhanger. Who will Etta choose? Well the beauty of this series is that we get to choose. We get a different sequel for each guy with completely different events. This is Damien's book. Damien has spent the past three years in prison for the fight he caused the day Etta left him for good. A fight that landed a dozen people in the hospital. He knows he fucked up, but he is more determined than ever that when he is released, he'll find her and make it right. Etta is trying to make things work with Aaron. She knows he is a good man and he's always been there for her, but part of here still craves Damien. Can she continue to fight her desire for him when they come face to face or will she give in?
Okay, before I say anything, I need to tell you that I am wholly biased. I am Team Aaron and at no point have I considered jumping sides. Anderson stated at the beginning of this that she meant to make Damien un-redeemable and though she tries to fix it here, she did that jobs too well. For me, Damien is beyond salvation. I'm sure he deserves a happy life, but he needs to find it elsewhere. Even with him on his best behavior, I didn't want Etta anywhere near him. Some things cannot be undone, you know? With that being said, here's my take.
I had a rocky relationship with Etta in book one. I liked her but Damien makes her stupid and I hate girls like that. I hate girls who allow men to rule their lives and dictate their worlds. We've all met that girl who only ever talks about her boyfriend. No matter what topic you try to introduce to steer the conversation elsewhere, it always ends with "well he says blah blah blah." Etta turned into that girl in Drawn and I was hoping to see her come out of it here, with the prolonged absence from him. She both does and doesn't. She moves on some but still longs for him even though he was a controlling assface to her. And the minute he shows up showing the least bit of improvement, she more or less jumps in the sack with him. Which perturbed me. You have a child to consider now and him saying he's changed doesn't prove shit. You cannot have that around your child. For me, she just forgives him way too easily. They go through the semblance of a trial where they are separated and work towards making a better relationship. She seems a bit selfish here. I understand to an extent that she has still never really been on her own and made her own decisions but when she chooses to move away from Aaron, essentially cutting her ties with him, I saw red. This amazing man helped you when no one else would have and he has stood by you throughout your bullshit and loved your child as his own and THIS is show you repay him? There are not words for my feelings on that subject.
Damien himself was much improved here. He's medicated to help his obsessions and manic behavior, but it's not enough to make up for past mistakes. I understand psychological disorders have a great effect on people, but I don't understand how people can ignore them to such an extent or refuse to seek help because of bad side effects. Do you not realizes that there are hundreds of medications for bipolar or mania or whatever disease you have and the side effects vary depending on what and how much you are taking? If one doesn't work, try another! I like that he does see the light and realize he needs help, but I think Etta should be lost to him. He fucked up beyond recovery, cut your losses and move on. If you are very lucky, she'll let you see your kid but that's as much as you can get.
The plot and writing and pacing of this are as good as the previous book. It's everything I was expecting in a sequel, with a story enthralling enough to compel me to finish it in a single day which is a feat for me. I will say that Lilliana has an amazing way of making you care for the characters you don't even like. I really despise Damien and yet I found myself sympathizing with the selfish asshat. That was both amazing and infuriating because I didn't want to sympathize with him. I wanted my hatred to prevail. Even though I'm 100% Team Aaron, this book made me wish just the tinniest bit that there was some hope for Damien.
All you really need to know is that if you are Team Damien, you'll love this. You get to see him redeem himself in a lot of ways and attempt to earn Etta's trust. He actually has a swoon-worthy side when he wants to and I can sorta see the attraction. If you are Team Aaron, then you'll be angry at the way Etta treats him much of the time, but he gets his happy ending here...even if it wasn't the one I was wishing for. Now I'm off to read the ending I was wishing for. Aaron, here I come!
****Thank you to Lilliana Anderson for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****