Quick review for a much longer read than I anticipated. I’m struggling to put into words what I thought of this book. It wasn’t that I thought it was bad, but underwhelming to me. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve visited this series, but when I realized that this “trilogy” wasn’t really a trilogy anymore and ended up getting the latter books in the series, I came back to it to have context in terms of what to expect in the latter books.
This book picks up where “Claim Me” left off, with Damien Stark in Germany undergoing the trial with Nikki at his side. Both of them are dealing with their respective issues – particularly noting Damien’s tormented past – while still exploring their relationship with each other. There are plenty of steamy and bluntly explicit scenes in this story, but the come across as repetitious and plodding for many places in the story, really not building upon the dynamic that the two share. Add in the very thin plot of a mysterious person that threatens Nikki by sending her ominous messages and you get something that’s mimicking tension and conflict rather than something that has more palpable weight. (Also, if you’ve guessed the perpetrator like I did within the first third of the book, your guess is likely right. I felt the mystery really dropped the ball and had not much pull in the heart of this installment.) This book does touch on conflicts of self-harm and mental issues of the characters within, but the way the narrative throws them together really didn’t do justice for the plot or characterizations. I could tell they had weight for the characters, but I didn’t feel them because they would only be introduced during moments that were meant to be tense for the characters, but then taken away when the sensual scenes came about. And much of it was the two using each other as ways to work in denial of their pain, so…there’s that.
I think if this were truly the final book in the series with the way the book rushed its ending, I would’ve been more disappointed. I like parts of J. Kenner’s writing, and I’ve read books in her latter bibliography that actually work a bit better for pacing, but this to me didn’t showcase as much of a compelling story or interest in the characters as it aimed to portray. I got the intention, but the execution didn’t grip me.
I definitely plan to read the rest of the books in this series since I have them, and there were a few side characters that I liked reading about, but unfortunately there wasn’t really much in the way to develop or showcase them more here. I’m probably not likely to return to the first three books in this set and just look at either the latter books or the spin-off series instead.
Overall score: 1.5/5 stars.
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.