It is always with great trepidation that I begin reading a novella penned by a much-loved author, knowing all too well that I will inevitably wish it were longer. And when it comes to anything written by Elle Aycart, no story will ever be long enough because I will never stop craving for more. Strangely enough, nothing about this story felt too short or too hurried, and from the moment I dove in, I was consumed. The story of a broken young woman desperate to find herself and the dangerous kingpin she unexpectedly falls for, this was yet another dazzling addition to a beloved series that I wish would never ever end, and just one more reason why this author will forever remain a top favourite of mine.
“You’ve got to understand this goes nowhere. I’m not the kind of guy who stays. I’m the kind who leaves.”
Everything about Paige Erlington’s brazen Goth appearance is designed to distract people from the vulnerable young woman hiding behind it. With a traumatic past she would rather forget, Paige no longer trusts others to know what is best for her, so when she finds a known drug cartel kingpin in need of saving, she listens to her gut alone when deciding whether to come to his rescue.
“What exactly happened to you?”
He took a second to reply. “A bit of a misunderstanding with some associates.”
“What kind of misunderstanding?”
“They believed I should die. I begged to differ.”
As head of one of the most ruthless cartels in the world, Nico Grabar always knew his life would be short, but he never expected a Goth bride covered in blood to be the last image he would see. Drugged and shot, he is found bleeding out in his car by a woman who looks strangely familiar to him, even though everything about her appearance makes him believe he is hallucinating. When he wakes up the next day staring into the eyes of the same beautiful brunette, he immediately recognises the woman he once tried to seduce. And it only takes one kiss for the fire between them to flare back to life.
“Should I be worried my lifeless body will be found floating in the sea as soon as you can stand?”
“I don’t know. Should you?”
No matter how quickly they grow attached to one another, they both know that loving each other is a risk they cannot take, even though their hearts have long stopped listening to reason. They lose themselves in one another, forgetting the world around them and healing each other’s wounds, but the longer they fool themselves into believing that their secret trysts mean nothing to either of them, the deeper they fall.
“What’s it going to take for you to recognize you have feelings for me?”
“What makes you think I do?”
He tipped her head up to meet his eyes. “You have to. I can’t feel this way about you and it not be mutual. If you feel even a smidgen of what I do, you have to love me.”
As their worlds unexpectedly cross paths, however, forcing them to consider a future they never dreamed of sharing, Paige and Nico allow themselves to dream of a day when they could love one another freely. Those dreams are short-lived, however, once enemies, old and new, come out of the shadows, threatening everything they hold dear.
“You have no f*cking clue what it’s like to wake up in a panic, terrified I said your name in my sleep and someone heard me. I dream about you every night and wake up hard and afraid. Hoping against hope no one will notice the change in me.”
From the opening line to the very last page, Elle Aycart’s intoxicating blend of humour and steaminess has us spellbound. She never fails to weave a story that is as emotional as it is exciting, with characters we cannot help but love, and even within the limited bounds of a novella, she manages to dazzle us. A truly delightful read.
“For years there was nothing in my life but darkness and thirst for revenge, whatever the personal cost. Nothing else mattered. Then you came waltzing into my bleak existence, with your quirks and your crazy hair and your lovely smiles, and you f*cking blinded me.”