A new Sylvia Day novel is like Christmas morning in my eyes, the same kind of anticipation, excitement, pure joy leading up to it, and that is why she is one of those rare authors whose books I devour the moment they are released. I have been waiting with bated breath for the conclusion of Jax and Gia’s passionate story ever since we first met them and fell in love with them in Afterburn, their intoxicating romance taking us on a whirlwind ride from the very first scene, and that is why my expectations of this second book were mammoth. And perhaps unrealistic. The very format of this two-part serial allowed it to be told at a particular pace, for the overall story to peak twice in order to accommodate both installments. But while some gaps in the storyline could be justified in the first part, implying bigger and better things would be on their way and leaving the reader only hungry for more, those gaps needed to be filled and built on in the second installment for it to give us a complete and satisfying story. Unfortunately, that was not the case for me.
“I am the big bad wolf, baby.”
At the end of Afterburn, Jax and Gia’s already shaky relationship came to a standstill after Jax put Gia’s career in jeopardy by ruining her first major business deal. But betrayal and disappointment are not the only feelings coursing through Gia’s veins at this point, her discovery of Jax’s true feelings for her only further complicating things and questioning her resolve to stay away from him. When confronted with either losing the love of his life forever or giving a genuine relationship with her a chance, Jax is unable to let go of Gia a second time in his life, knowing all too well that the pressures of living in his world would likely be their eventual demise anyway.
“I’m so afraid of f*cking this up. Of looking at you one day and finding that you’ve lost that light in your eyes you have when you’re looking at me.”
As Gia’s integrity is put to the test, she must decide whether turning into the kind of woman a man like Jax appears to need at his side is too high a price to pay in order to hold onto him. And Jax must finally embrace the man he wants to be, rather than the one he is expected to become. This is a story of love conquering all, regardless of where we come from or what we are told is best for us, told in Ms Day’s very unique voice that keeps us rapt from the very first page.
“What took you so damned long! Why now? Why are you fighting for me now?”
“Because you’re finally fighting for me!”
The unquestionable chemistry between these characters is only amplified in this second installment, their physical connection acting as a binding force between them, as well as a healing and comforting one. However, I could not help but feel that most of the actual plot happened between the sheets. There was no real string of events for us to sink our teeth in, and what we could latch onto felt rushed, foreseeable, lacking substance. The main characters made decisions in a hurry, secondary characters that could have added to the story were underutilized, elements that could have given more depth to the plotline were skimmed over or simply alluded to, and the story being told in such broad strokes left us not hungry for more, but rather feeling like we just ate a rice cracker when we had expected a whole feast.
I cannot say that I did not enjoy this story – because I did, start to finish – or that I was not captivated by every skillfully chosen word in it – because I was – but to me this was regrettably not the story that I expected or hoped to find.