I’ve always had a fondness for moody, well-written characters with a dangerous side, but a full-blown bad boy can make me weak at the knees. And that is just one of the many reasons why this series has been one of the most electrifying sagas I have ever read. Book after book, Penelope Douglas has kept exploring the grey area separating heroes from villains, delving boldly into the inner conflicts of her characters, and pushing the envelope further and further. But this time around, she has not only kept pushing— she unequivocally stomped all over that envelope and then burned it to ashes by delivering a story that is the very definition of an intoxicating page-turner. Douglas’ talent for keeping readers on their toes is on display as ever in this wild, crazy, even chilling at times tale of revenge, atonement, and second chances. And every time you might think to yourself that she won’t go there one way or another, think again—she will and you will love every glorious minute of it. And I’m not just thinking about that pool house scene, I swear.
I’ve done so much more than what I went to prison for—and far worse. Winter has no clue how bad this can get.
Thunder Bay’s most infamous son is back in town, and he’s got only one thing on his mind—getting revenge on the girl who sent him behind bars five years before. But prison has not only fuelled Damon Torrance’s thirst for revenge—it has also twisted him into a man with no scruples or remorse, a man who has never made peace with the demons from his past, but rather allowed them to turn his every waking hour into a wasteland of moral depravity and pure rage. And from the moment we get into his head, all we see is red.
“And in your bed tonight, when it’s late and dark, and the rest of the house is quiet, except for my wife’s moans down the hall and you’re pissed and angry, because you think you hate me, but you slip a hand under the covers anyway, because no one will be the wiser if you indulge yourself in the memory of me, I just want you to also know…” I lowered my voice to a whisper, “that’s what red feels like. Anger and fury and heat and need so strong you’re a fucking animal, Winter. It’s primal.”
Trusting the wrong boy twice in her young life has cost Winter Ashby a lot more than just a broken heart, but from the moment Damon Torrance walks back into her life a third time, she knows the worst is yet to come. After ruining her father’s reputation and then taking away every single thing her family has ever owned, Damon is set on making Winter’s life a living hell by toying with her cruelly and mercilessly.
I’d changed her forever. I’d bent and twisted and broken everything that made her the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me.
But behind Winter’s delicate exterior lies a young woman in possession of a remarkable combination of courage, willpower, and fierce tenacity, and for every act of provocation that Damon throws her way, she keeps adapting and fighting back. And while having Damon back in her life is a constant reminder of all the pain he has caused her over the years, it also serves to fuel the loneliness inside her, stirring up old memories, and reminding her that the only man who has never treated her as an inconvenience or ignored her is the very man set on destroying her.
I hated him. He was everything bad that happened to me. But he was the only time—other than dancing—that I felt alive, too.
The constant shifts back in time slowly shed light on Damon’s true character and the events that cost him three years of his life, but they also show his connection to Winter, and all the ways they have changed one another over the years. We watch them hate each other while loving one another still, and that complicated, messy dynamic between them is what makes their story such an intense, unputdownable race to the end.
I always saw Damon Torrance’s raven eyes in my head, even before I knew my ghost was Damon Torrance.
Penelope Douglas pulls out all the stops to create a story that is exhilarating, unpredictable, engrossing, and shocking in all the best ways. By giving us characters that are unique, complicated, and uncompromisingly imperfect, she has us turning pages in a frenzy, desperate to process all the twists and turns coming at us from all sides. There were moments where the story might have benefited from a more compact narrative, a slightly faster pace, or some details even hitting the cutting room floor, but none of those moments took away from one of the most gripping reading experiences of my life. Yet another brilliant addition to a truly phenomenal series, this is the kind of book you find yourself reading with a mix of trepidation, elation, and utter awe because you never know what the characters might do next—and again, I am not just talking about the pool house scene.
“Don’t let me go. No matter what you hear or what they say, don’t let me go.”