In this all-new novel from the author of Unbound, a woman with a rocky past finds romance in the last place she’d ever expect...
Annie Goodhouse doesn’t need to be warned about bad boys; good sense and an abusive ex have given her plenty of reasons to play it safe. But when she steps into her new role as outreach librarian for Cousins Correctional Facility, no amount of good sense can keep her mind—or eyes—off inmate Eric Collier.
Eric doesn’t claim to be innocent of the crime that landed him in prison. In fact, he’d do it again if that’s what it took to keep his family safe. Loyalty and force are what he knows. But meeting Annie makes him want to know more.
When Eric begins courting Annie through letters, they embark on a reckless, secret romance—a forbidden fantasy that neither imagines could ever be real…until early parole for Eric changes everything, and forces them both to face a past they can’t forget, and a desire they can’t deny.
You know how sometimes, you find a book and read the blurb and you just have to have it? And you think you have it all figured out – you know the kind of feelings it’s going to bring out in you. You know it’s going to just be a certain way….
Yeah – that didn’t happen with Hard Time. I just knew this was going to be an overly aggressive, too hot to trot, alpha male forbidden romance…..
And you know what they say about assuming….so there’s that.
Annie is a librarian, born and raised in South Carolina. Now as a fellow South Carolinian, I completely understand the way she was brought up. And becoming an outreach librarian for a correctional facility nixes every rule she has ever been taught….
“The rules were forwarded to me in an email. No makeup. No perfume. No jewelry. That brought a frown to my lips. Having been raised in the South, the request felt about as civilized as being asked if I could please shave my head bald. Where I’m from, a woman won’t flee a burning building in the dead of night before at least putting on some mascara and a pair of pearl studs.”
But, it is through this outreach program where she come into contact with prisoner 802267, Eric Collier. Eric has been sentenced to eight years in prison for a crime that, by his own admission, he would commit again given the chance. His appearance is rough and hard.
Shortly after starting the outreach program, Eric approaches Annie to have her help him with his writing, opening the doors to a fantasy romance that they both crave.
Through letters, they are able to communicate with each other privately, secretly. They develop a fierce connection quickly – and you watch it unfold word for word. Eric writes words of romance and expresses such tender thoughts towards Annie, that it had me falling in love with him in an instant.
“Everything’s so hard in here. And mean and ugly and loud. I know you want to hear dark things, but what I say about the romantic stuff I want to do with you, I want that so bad I can’t tell you. I want to be in a room with you, so quiet I can hear your breathing and your heart. A place so clean I could smell your skin. And with candles, all yellow and soft after the bright white lights they use in here. I want to be with you someplace that’s nothing like my cell. Someplace big and open, with a giant mattress a foot thick and the softest sheets. Someplace cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In a huge bathtub. On the grass somewhere. I want feminine things, because that’s what I miss. Because in here, everything feels hard and sharp and bright. I want to escape and go someplace dark and soft and quiet. I want to escape inside you.”
Annie has been hurt. Her past relationship left her weary of men – of trust anyone really. But this….thing… with Eric, it’s safe. Because it will never come to fruition. He’s locked away on the inside, damning any chance they would ever have at a real relationship – which provides her the confidence she needs to express her deepest desires that she has kept hidden for years.
“I want to make you feel a hundred things at once—powerless and aggressive, needy and pushy, grateful and greedy. Everything a man can feel with a woman.”
However, when Eric is granted parole, the fantasy is shattered. This romance becomes a living, breathing thing that will exists beyond the cement walls of Cousins Correctional Facility. Annie’s “safe bubble” is burst wide open and she has to make a decision on whether or not she can continue to have any kind of relationship with a convicted felon.
This book was so beyond the realm of what I expected. It was soft and sweet….almost innocent at times. But, then again, the thoughts and dreams that Eric and Annie shared with each other had me squirming in my seat. I was pleasantly surprised to discover all that was Eric Collier. Word by word, line by line I fell in love with Eric and Annie and their story. It was exactly what I didn’t know I wanted.
*4.5 Darling Stars*