While this book isn’t perfect, it’s the best Modern I’ve read in a while. I seem to have had some bad luck recently in my category reads. Either the book hasn’t engaged me or it’s contained elements I don’t enjoy or I haven’t been able to believe the initial setup. This one does what a category romance does best – it introduces two characters I feel invested in and want to know more about.
Jacob returns to the family home in Texas after being invalided out of his army career. He lost an eye and has scars to show from his time flying Blackhawks in war zones. He feels useless and ugly and is suffering from PTSD, which tends to manifest itself in his dreams. He arrives home to find a party going on to welcome him, and there is the family’s new neighbor, a New Yorker named Addison. She seems to give him the come-on, and that makes him mad, so he confronts her and then storms off. He turns up at her place later, and after an initial confrontation they end up in bed and in love.
I liked Jacob’s grovels and his full acknowledgement that he’d been beyond grumpy and treated her badly, and I like that he doesn’t quite know how to say sorry or make it up to her. He comes from a good family background, except for his problematic father, a general, who is so busy with his career he doesn’t have much time for his children, of which there are many. But Jacob is welcomed back, and apart from a few gasps when people see his badass scar and his eyepatch, they accept him fairly well.
Although Jacob is traumatized, he’s refused to go for therapy, and since he’s left the army (one-eyed men can’t fly Blackhawks), there’s not much anyone can do to make him go. Needless to say, he is carrying a huge burden of guilt. I say needless to say, because most of the heroes I’ve read recently are wallowing in the mud bath of guilt, usually over something they couldn’t have changed or foreseen. Jacob is no exception to this one.
Addison has inherited the old ranch from a friend and arrives to find the place run down. She’s from a trailer trash background (her words) and has worked her way to the top in the legal world in New York. It’s her mentor who left her the ranch in his will, and he bought it from a catalogue, so when she sees it, she’s appalled and resigned and she sets to work, with a view to improving it and then selling it. She fights her attraction to Jake from the start, being immune, she thinks, to charming cowboys. She has a wicked reputation, because everyone is assuming that her much older mentor was her lover.
Not so fast. In saunters Jacob.
Addison has adopted that name, after ditching her birth name, Adoré, but Jacob likes it and uses it in their more intimate moments. A built-in pet name, but I find it sweet rather than cloying, and a way for Jacob to express his feelings before he’s ready to articulate them.
Most of the story takes place in a very short space of time. Too short, I think, as they don’t just connect and have rampagingly hot sex (and my, is it rampagingly hot!), they fall in love. However, the inevitable black moment sees it all crash apart. I’d have liked a longer time frame, because although they talk and talk as well as bonk and bonk, sometimes at the same time, I find it hard to believe that they knew each other at a level deep enough to fall in love.
I like both characters and Marton helps the reader invest in each. Although the book starts with one of the biggest clichés around, that of Jacob driving to the “surprise” party, thinking his backstory to himself, she manages to pull it off for the most part, mainly because she goes deep into Jacob’s head, and we read his personal reaction to events, rather than a recital of the events themselves. I did get a bit tired when the next scene was Addison at the party doing her own backstory, but by that time Marton had me interested, so I read on.
During the opening monologue, the reader is led to believe that Jacob is completely hideous, so it’s a bit of a surprise when Addison finds him beautiful. However, I rolled with it, and added Jacob to the list of scarred heroes I’ve enjoyed.
Jacob Wilde lived a fast and furious life of reckless abandon…until his wild streak put a cruel end to a life spent in pursuit of pleasure…The Texan ranching grapevine is legendary, so Addison McDowell has heard all about Jacob Wilde’s shameless past—and his scarred, solitary present. But her only focus is her future—which won’t include this impossibly arrogant man!
Addison is no Texan wallflower—when Jake starts a fight, she’s more than capable of finishing it! However, a searing attraction to a man she knows cannot love her back? That she has no idea how to handle….
Read an excerpt.