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“I hate that I love you,” she said. “You left me.”
“I lost you, there’s a difference. Now that I found you, I intend to keep you.”
I’d tasted the sweetest fruit of temptation, and I wanted another bite. I had promised myself before, but once wasn’t enough. The savory flavor of her lingered long after I’d lost her. Contending with the pressure to return to the fight, in order to prove myself to my father and the world, I had to let her go.
It has been a year. Sofie Vincentia and I had played a dangerous game. For one night, we pretended, only to discover our farce was real. I’d lost her, but I hadn’t stopped searching, hoping for her return. I was used to getting what I wanted, so when she didn’t come to me, I had to go after her. This would be the greatest fight of my life.
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About the Author:
I’d love to say I’ve written for 10,000 hours, and that makes me a pro. But I can’t say that. What I can say is I had a story in my head that wouldn’t go away. I thought typing it in my computer would be the end of things, but it only led to another story and another. I love reading, so characters in my head isn’t something new. What is new is my creation of them. Hope you enjoy my favorites as much as I do. Happy reading!
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I fell in love with Ms. Dunbar’s style in her spectacularly written and highly engaging Legendary Rock Stars series. That series is a modernization of the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table legends. Such a brilliant concept and so well executed. I can’t deny the author’s assertion that if King Arthur was a product of the 2000’s, he would most definitely be a rock star! But I digress, this review is about the Cobra, Cain Callahan. I guess my actual purpose of the introduction reflecting on the reasons Cain and his brother Abel kept getting pushed down my TBR. My To Be Read list numbers close to the thousands these days – there are simply so many books that catch my interest and make me feel I just have to read them, and sincerely hope to read them all someday, regardless of any physical impossibility of getting to every last one. and these numbers don’t include the books by the overflowing handful of authors I beta read for, the ones I have signed up to review for other blogs, and those I have agreed to for my own two blogs. Yes, I am fully aware it is more than a bit of an addiction, but there are many personally fulfilling reasons for me to embrace all things books. But back to Cain….
Though I absolutely adore LB’s writing style, I wasn’t quite as excited about reading a series about MMA fighters. I actually used to watch MMA some, mostly with my dear friend I lost a number of years ago to a rare form of cancer. That actually may have been part of my reluctance. But after the first chapter or two of Paradise Tempted: The Beginning (which I highly recommend reading first) I was kicking myself for waiting so long. It was everything one could hope for in a romance, and so much more.
Let’s focus on Cain, as that is the book we are celebrating here, but more than that, I would like to discuss a bit about the man, The Cobra, Cain Callahan himself. Ms. Dunbar has outdone herself on this character. There are more sides to the main character, this hero, than there are wrong ways to solve a Rubik’s Cube (I don’t really care how much that remark ages me. It is an iconic puzzle of pure frustration. Seems appropriate for our Cain.) Seldom has a character shown so many different sides of himself, and evrn more seldom has a character drawn out more emotions in me, especially of the motherly kind. I am a mother, I love being a mother (okay, I have two teenagers, we could make that the large majority of the time.) But there are a couple of directions I can go from this statement that made those feelings quite surprising and alien to me. First, I don’t particularly see myself as one of those women who has that motherly instinct on overdrive. Beyond my two, it is rare. Just not in my DNA to want to be a surrogate mother to all I come across. But, if not more importantly, at least more topically, I feel we mothers who read romances do so to escape our real lives. I don’t particularly want to feel my motherly instincts kick in while I am reading (unless, perhaps, there is a puppy involved. Then all bets are off for obvious reasons. Because…puppies.) I didn’t mind it a bit in Cain’s case though. Such a big tough guy who felt so broken on the inside – it was nearly impossible not to cheer for him, and convince him of his worth outside of the ring. I am measuring my words very carefully as I don’t want to tread too closely to spoiler territory, but this man is just such a loveable, complex enigma. I tend to like my men with a more lithe, runner’s body, but it certainly wasn’t a big stretch to see him as an attractive man. I would have to say his internal struggles are where his true beauty lies though. Don’t get me wrong, he could be a spoiled brat with the best of them, and at times he could be as clueles as any man ever to walk the earth in action that his heart was in the right place. He was a very unique character to me in many ways, and most definitely one I will not forget soon.
And then there is Sofie. She is also a one of a kind character that I had no trouble falling in love with. Such a sweet girl, so devoted to the family she has left, and to her studies to eventually become a doctor. She has a wonderfully romantic side that she keeps well hidden most of the time, and self doubts that also brought out those dreaded motherly instincts. She could be quite a dichotomy at times as well, but overall I found myself quickly adoring her, and though I may not have always completely agreed with her actions, I could certainly understand them.
Her grandparents’ vineyard and getaway for the rich and famous was almost a character in and of itself, and I found myself longing for it to be a real place that I could add to that bucket list I will one day compose. It was so well described, especially the area Sofie referred to as Eden. I think we all could use a little r & r in this version of Eden. And Sofie’s great grandfather….I simply could not get enough of him! He was such a, well, character! I am sure he has plenty of stories from his many years to tell, and I, for one, would fight my way to be at his knee as he shared them.
Cain’s family, on the other hand, with the exception of brother Abel, certainly will not leave you with any warm and fuzzy feelings. The boys’ father is one of the most vile villians I have come across in the romance genre. Completely despicable is the nicest thing I can say about that man, but it is still a tribute to Ms. Dunbar’s writing skills to have created a character that brings out such deep emotion in me, even if they are all negative.
I haven’t even mentioned the deliciously steamy scenes. This is an area I feel Ms. Dunbar has always excelled at, so I will just say that these live up to the high standards she has set in her previous works. A+ work without a doubt.
My very highest recommendations, obviously.