I couldn’t put this book down
It’s taken me several books to get the instinctive ‘shudder’ out of my system when Mark is mentioned or appears: it wasn’t that he was scary or inherently bad, but there was a remove between the human, flawed side and his acceptance of that. His iron-clad control and persona that he put forward as ‘uber Dom’ felt false, he was projecting an image more than actually being that which he strove to achieve. And yes, for some it worked, and his remove from the messiness that emotions, love and vulnerability creates was working for him. For a while.
But truth and emotion are funny things, and personas crack and dissolve, no matter your desires. Everything you fear, everything you don’t want to acknowledge demands attention, and will get it. Bit by bit, Mark’s walls are crumbling, and he is all the more attractive and engaging for it.
Lisa Renee Jones has brought us to this point of unmasking Mark, as the world he so carefully sought to build and uphold through sheer determination is crumbling. You can’t pick this story up without having read the others, while it will be an engaging read, you are missing clues, cues, and information about the players and their relationships and connections that inform almost every element of this (and earlier) stories.
As a character on the verge of losing everything, Mark engenders sympathy: his reluctance to let go of the guilt that hounds him, and determination to not allow anyone else to be harmed are almost his undoing. While he is facing the loss of his mother through a particularly aggressive cancer, he doesn’t extend his guilt trip to being responsible ‘for’ it, but the relationship between he and his parents is wonderful to see; even as he ‘uses’ Crystal to support and protect them, and be his eyes when he is elsewhere.
Mark and Crystal are an interesting dynamic: Mark is certain his love for Rebecca led to her disappearance, Ava had no reason for her behavior otherwise. But Mark won’t take the chance with Crystal. But she challenges him, defies him, refuses to bow her head and submit: her submission is a true gift from one who brings a strength and determination to control. She isn’t just a conquest though: quick, observant and very intuitive, she sees the tumult and turmoil, understands the conflict and guilt that Mark is consumed with, and demands that he be honest, if only with himself, and allow the emotions to have their say. She is the first real “challenge” to his domination or heart since Rebecca, and when the stakes are raised yet again, she is in danger.
Ava is omnipresent in this story, even though she isn’t a character that we have seen much or nor do we know her reasons for her behavior. Well, there is the fact that she was a crazy and delusional woman with and obsession and an accomplice…and we LEARN who that is, and the why. But the continuing thread FINALLY coming to an end, and getting the answers to questions that just multiplied with every installment was a bittersweet moment. The series is winding down and coming to a close, and it seems threats and dangers are resolving for most of the major players.
These are stories told in first person: the ties to the characters feel more present and palpable, and the tension as we await the unveiling of everyone behind the plots to bring Mark down through any means possible is gripping. I couldn’t put this book down, and can’t wait for Sara’s final update on where she and Chris are.
I received an eArc copy from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.