I was looking forward to that same rock and roll vibe I got from the previous book in the Caldwell Brothers series, Morrison (I haven’t read Hendrix yet, but it’s on my Kindle….so someday). It was there, though not as strong, as was the same dark, damsel in distress theme.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
An MMA fighter wants to save a young girl from the harsh abuse of her father. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
Not Really a “Meet Cute”
Like Morrison, Jagger rides that line between hard edge and completely heroic. When he first meets Tatiana, she’s being beat by her father. Jagger beats the man, only to be arrested. Determined to be her savior, Jagger keeps an eye on Tatiana and sneaks her gifts (including food because she’s not fed enough), staying hidden because of the restraining order the father took against him.
Too Young to Know Better
Tatiana’s abuse is brutal, but she stays because her father has insinuated that she’s not a real U.S. citizen, and she’s terrified that without his protection, she’ll be sent back to Russia. When she realizes that Jagger has been leaving the gifts for her, she finds hope that things will get better, and when she finally gets the courage to leave her home, he’s the first one she goes to.
Off to a Rough Start
From the start, their relationship has challenges. First, Tatiana is only 17, so Jagger makes sure he keeps his distance until she becomes legal (only three days from the day she runs away, which I guess is convenient). Then, when Tatiana finds that he makes his living by beating people up, she freaks out, scared that she’s attracted to a violent man. When she first runs away, there’s some confusion as to whether Jagger is even single, and that confusion is made worse by a fighter named Cobra, Jagger’s nemesis, who “befriends” Tatiana and proceeds to fill her head with lies about Jagger.
The whole thing with Cobra is a little weird. The guy is an abuser himself, but he doesn’t hurt Tatiana. Instead, he has this weird, creepy need to both protect her and use her to piss off Jagger. Tatiana’s feelings towards him are conflicted as well. She spends most of the book calling him a friend, and he’s portrayed as this bad guy character who you’re supposed to sympathize with even though he admits to having beat his girlfriend. So that was unsettling.
Family & Rock ‘n’ Roll
There were a lot of things I enjoyed about the book. I liked the dialogue and writing, and I enjoy the Caldwell brothers as a family. I also like the Caldwell wives from the first books, Hailey and Olivia, who welcome Tatiana into the family and reach out to take care of her. As for side characters, which I tend to be a fan of, there were a lot of feels with some of the emotions came from those relationships. Also, a character named Kid was introduced, and I feel like he needs at least a novella.
What didn’t quite ring true for me was the instalove between Jagger and Tatiana and the intensity of their feelings after having “known” each other for just a short time. I can see a justification in that maybe he was her savior and so it would be natural that her feelings would be super strong towards him? I think I wanted more buildup and development of their relationship though.
Fast Recovery Time
Tatiana’s personality later in the book also didn’t seem to match with her being an abuse victim. At first she’s scared and timid, and that was understandable. But she seemed to recover fast, and once she was living with Jagger, there seemed to be a lack of any of the psychological side effects that this abuse would have. It was mentioned she had scars, but her mental recovery time seemed quick. Also, I had a hard time with the characterization of her father. He was an abusive drunk who seemed to hate her, but he’s also stashed away a half a million dollars to give to her? It was just odd, and some of these details, though small, sometimes took me out of what was otherwise an enjoyable read.
The Romance Factor
Even though the intensity of the feelings between Tatiana and Jagger seemed to happen a little fast, I enjoyed most of their moments and found them sweet. Most were pleasantly dramatic, though there were a few points where things got a little too melodramatic. 3/5
The Steam Factor
Once Tatiana gets legal, Jagger is all up on that. Their sexy times are raw and dirty, but they don’t get into any weird territory. I feel like Tatiana’s virginal and sheltered innocence could have been played up a bit more, but Jagger’s edginess made up for it. 4/5
Even though there were little things that bugged me, when I got to the end of the book, I still came away with a satisfied feeling. The word flow of these books is so good and melodic, and I feel that even the drama, when looked at in the context of the whole story, fits in with the general tone the story sets.