In Book 2 of this phenomenal series, Rhenna Morgan does not disappoint. Her characters are so multi-layered: flawed, giving, loving, loyal, family oriented, protective, and badass. When she mixes these core characteristics together, magic is made. The Haven Brotherhood is now like family. I need to know: who, what, why, when, where, like right now. There is no second book slump here. Ms. Morgan seems to be hitting all my reader buttons and I love being on this wild ride. With Book 3 just on the horizon, I know I’ll be impatiently counting down the days.
Gabrielle Parker works as a mechanic. She loves her job and pretty much stays to herself. Gabe has some serious social anxiety due to her past and she’s built walls so high that it’s near impossible for anyone to get close to her. Since her dad died, it has just her and her brother Danny, and that’s the way she likes it. She has trust issues, thanks to her useless mother and some really shitty kids from school. Gabrielle also chooses not to take medication to help her with her issues. Gabe takes care of all her elderly neighbors because she truly cares, but also because they can’t hurt her. She binge watches romantic movies and lives vicariously through them. Meanwhile, Danny is working to become a brother at Haven. Gabe is taking care of her neighbor’s cat while the neighbor is out of town, and as she enters the house, she realizes things aren’t quite right. An intruder bursts out at her and knocks her pretty good into a table. She takes a hard fall and it breaks her ribs. She calls her brother Danny and, of course, the Havens Doc, Zeke Dugan, is on his way to make sure she’s okay, even with Danny knowing his sister will not allow strangers to touch her.
Danny explains the situation to Zeke on their way to his house, and so the good doctor uses his very good bedside manner. He treats Gabrielle with kid gloves and he is very taken with her. Gabe has a toughness about her – she has those walls up and they can be misconstrued as aloof. But behind that facade Zeke sees her fear and does everything in his power as a person and a doctor to slowly put her at ease. He promises her it will only take five minutes to make sure she hasn’t punctured her lung. She agrees.
“Five minutes,” he agreed. He could have done it in three, but he’d take the extra bonus. Then he’d figure out how to make the leap from stranger to someone worthy of coaxing the wild and sweet kitten from her corner.”
Zeke is infatuated with Gabrielle and makes sure he puts himself in her way. Gabe is having none of it. She’s literally afraid of getting hurt and people leaving her, but Zeke does love a challenge and he’s really interested in her. All his manly instincts are kicking in and he wants to take care of her and get her under him, over him, and anywhere else he can get her. He starts calling her gatinha, which is Portuguese for kitten. He keeps teasing her until she googles it. She asks him if he really thinks she’s a kitten.
“I think you’re a feral kitten. One who’s hungry and has a bowl of cream right in front of her, but can’t quite decide if she wants to lick it up, or hiss and hightail it back into the woods.”
Zeke is wearing her defenses down and asks her to join him to take pictures at a rugby match he holds with Trevor for underprivileged kids. Her inner voice that’s always negative amps up her anxiety and she questions every word, motive, and scenario that could happen. Of course, anyone who suffers from anxiety knows there is no reasoning with that inner voice. Zeke is very good at picking up on her anxiety and talks through everything. Which for someone suffering from this debilitating condition is a lifeline. That calm voice in the storm. Gabrielle is used to men having sex with her and then disappearing. She is wary. Zeke knows this and tries to put her at ease.
“I want to be clear on something. Clear enough that when I get out of this car, I do it knowing you’re under no more disillusions.”
“This is a date. A one hundred percent, man asks woman out, gets to know her, then kisses her stupid when it’s over date. What this isn’t is me being friendly with you in a purely platonic way.”
Have I mentioned how much I love Zeke? He is definitely protective, he’s fierce in his convictions, saves lives, and he is probably one of the best heroes ever written (Ken Karmondy from Out of Control still holds first place). But, dammit, Zeke is running neck and neck with him. Gabrielle, with all her issues, is probably one of the strongest heroines to ever grace the pages of a book. While she can be obstinate, she is also very smart and figures her life out with the help of Zeke and his brothers.
This romance is a slow burn. It’s exquisite and all consuming. You feel almost like a voyeur, intruding on this budding relationship that’s so sweet and thoughtful. Make no mistake, while the relationship is slow and sweet, the sex is off the charts. With all those ingredients, it’s one of the most satisfying reading experiences for me. There’s a suspense thread running through the book that doesn’t take up too much of the narrative. But it’s from this thread that Gabrielle takes a long, hard look at what’s important. Zeke slowly breaks down those barriers and she blossoms. I love when Gabe goes shopping for a dress to attend a charity event with Zeke and she feels confident enough to befriend the sales clerk April who helps her. I hope somewhere down the line we get to meet her again.
“I always thought love was a risk. One I wasn’t willing to take. You’re worth it.” Her mouth parted on a soft gasp and she tried to pull her hand free. Zeke tightened his hold and kissed the center of her palm.
“I can’t relax. I don’t… I mean, how am I suppose to interpret that?”
“It means I love you, gatinha. All of you. Just like you are.”
This is a slow and steamy read. By slow I don’t mean you’ll fall asleep. Slow in a good way, it’s all about the characters in this book. Believe me, you’ll want to take that time to spend with Zeke and Gabrielle and, of course, the other brothers. I love their friendships, their humor, their protective side, their family-oriented loyalty. I can’t wait for the next book and I can tell you I will be waiting with bated breath. Ms. Morgan, I am fan. I recommend reading this series from Book 1, but you don’t need to. You could read this book and not feel lost, you would just miss out on another really fantastic read. I wish I had a sticker that read “You will not be disappointed. Guarantee Read!”
Zeke Dugan is not a man who walks the straight and narrow. He may have sworn an oath as a trauma doc, but he has zero problem leveraging his medical skills outside a hospital if it means giving the Brotherhood—the group of men he calls family—an advantage. Blood before business. All that changes when shy Gabrielle stumbles into his life and ignites his protective instincts.
Mechanic Gabrielle Parker prefers the complexities of an engine over men. Her life wasn’t always quiet and well-ordered, but now that it is, she finds peace in the solitude. When a robbery in her neighborhood forces her out of her safe bubble, she never fathoms that a dangerous, cocky trauma doctor will fix more than her injuries.
Zeke doesn’t play by the rules that Gabrielle follows but knows that he’s exactly what she needs in her life. He’ll show her the fierce and uncompromising protection that comes from belonging to a man like him.
When tension outside the Brotherhood threatens Gabrielle, Zeke will do anything to keep her safe, and damn the consequences. No one will hurt his woman, even if it means putting the very men who saved his life at risk.
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: