The Friday I finished this was a very long Friday for a few reasons, one of them being that I was hooked on this book and really wanted to finish it. Fellow readers may know the struggle of being 95% done with a novel only to be unable to finish because lunch break is over and you have to go back to work. The struggle is real! But I finished it shortly after getting home and was then struck by that sad feeling of finishing a really good book that you didn’t want to end. This book drops on June 23, and I think the sequel is supposed to come out soon thereafter. I hope so. I really want to read more of this series.
Never Loved by Charlotte Stein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Shy, awkward Beatrix grew up being emotionally abused by her father. Her life is spent walking on eggshells and worrying about the approval of others while at the same time worrying about her brother Tommy. While the abuse drove Beatrix to an education and the attempt at a better life, it drove Tommy to drugs and a rough crowd. While looking for her brother, she meets Serge, a man who’s size and tattoos make him look dangerous, but Beatrix finds herself attracted to him despite her fear. Serge is also damaged goods with a bad past, and he fights his own attraction to Beatrix because he doesn’t want to bring her into what he considers a rough and dangerous life.
The synopsis sounds simplistic, but the plot is a little more complicated than that. Well…maybe not complicated. More in-depth? There are layers to this plot, including the love story (of course), but also the story of a couple of very damaged people who find each other and start a sweet relationship. Also, danger. Yes, there is some danger/adventure type stuff thrown in at the end with some small twists. This part of the plot comes after a slow trip through the rest of it. Normally when I say slow, I follow it with boring. However, this book was not boring. The slow pace is sensual, and the titillation of the story itself kept me hooked.
I liked these characters. I liked how damaged they were and how there was more to them than what their exterior would indicate. I also liked them together. I thought the dynamic between them was nice and steamy. I don’t always go in for the meek girl/bad boy tropes. I’ve read a few that were really forced and it can be painful, but I didn’t experience that with this book.
The romance factor is high with this one. Though the pacing is slow and sensual, the love stuff happens quickly. As with any romance, I have to suspend disbelief and temporarily believe in love at first/second/third sight, something I don’t mind doing when immersed in a good novel. Serge and Beatrix are made for each other, and I loved how sweet they were.
The heat is high with this one. These are some super steamy sex scenes made only better by the amount of foreplay which lasts the whole first half of the book. When they get down to business, it’s pretty explosive. The plot is there, but it’s definitely secondary to the sexy times these two crazy kids are having.
The writing was solid and I found very few technical mistakes in my ARC digital copy, which is always nice. The author used a few techniques that took some getting used to. The POV is first person from the heroine, and sometimes we don’t get the dialogue in normal dialogue form, we get her monologue of what he said, and there were times when I wondered if he really said it or if it was just in her head.
Besides getting used to that I really don’t think there was much I didn’t like about this book. I usually prefer a little more plot and conflict between the 2 main characters, but I think the conflict in this one worked well with it being mostly with each character and their pasts and self images.
If you like steamy and slow, check this one out when it releases in June. I will definitely be adding more of this series to my Goodreads list.