Top positive review
the book I was waiting for
Reviewed in the United States on March 3, 2019
First things first - re: the trigger warnings - Shayla, our h, had an abusive husband and there are some vivid flashbacks of the abuse. They're all in italics and obviously flashbacks, so maybe it's not enough to trigger anybody, but they're in there.
This is the story that I've been waiting for since book 2, when Shayla showed someone pictures of her days as a ballerina as evidence that a delicate woman could become a serious fighter. I thought he (Fuzzy) was going to be her H, but this was so much better.
It's a fabulous second chance story about her first love, Zack, who left her behind to go after his fighting career with the intention of becoming worthy of her and coming back. Unfortunately, he was still quite stupid and didn't consider the repercussions of actually leaving her to follow his career. Or even, you know, telling her that he was coming back for her. He just broke her heart in one of the coldest ways possible. It was a really stupid move, and one of the few things I didn't like about this book, but I get that the story couldn't have been angsty without angst. I loved that Zack was utterly devoted once he found Shayla again, but while actions speak louder than words a girl can sometimes really need those words, and he was still occasionally TSTL.
I loved Shayla, honestly. I really loved Amanda in book 2, but Shayla may have knocked her out of Redemption's top h spot. At the very least they're sharing it. I thought she reacted to situations realistically, and in most cases really intelligently. She may have gotten a little emotional (with good cause) but her only flaw was maybe letting him back in too easily.
Since the whole book is his struggle to get back into her good graces, that doesn't sound right, and yet it felt like he kept making stupid mistakes and getting forgiven. I wanted him to really buckle down and come clean, tell her what his problem was instead of keeping his ego intact.
His ego was quite possibly the main antagonist of the story. He had to become a good fighter to believe himself worthy of her, he had to train her because he was the best, he was the one who knew everything, yadda yadda yadda. You can be the best and not rub your ego in someone's face, Zack.
This book did feel a little shorter, wrapped up a little neater and faster, but I didn't mind. It took me a few weeks to finish because I took a break when Zack irritated me and then I read some books in between.
If there was anything that was wrong with the actual writing, I can't even remember and apparently it wasn't worth highlighting to point out in a review. Good grammar, good editing, good writing all around. It could have used a little bit more polish and depth, maybe a bit more about their past and how her brother interfered with their relationship. There were lots of large jumps where their relationship grew in between, so you didn't get the wonderful feeling of watching it happen.
I love a good survivor story, and the kind of second chance love that didn't end because of cheating.
I would have loved an AU where they were happily together and she supported him through his rise to fame, too, but I'm so happy that Shayla got such a good story.