Saturday, December 27, 2014

Undefeated (Bomb Squad #2) by Melissa Cutler (@BerkleyRomance)

Yoga instructor Marlena Brodie is always up for a challenge, and her new job of snapping Bomb Squad out of their rut is definitely that, even though it means being in close contact with Liam McAllister, her high school crush gone bad. She can feel the damage pouring off of him—but also a wild and sexy strength that calls to her.

The Army turned Liam McAllister into a man, but as a combat medic, he saw far too much to ever be whole again. He’s not interested in the civilian world beyond his job as a carpenter, but he never stopped wondering what might have been with Marlena—and it isn’t long before she’s crashed through his carefully constructed walls. He longs for a new beginning with her, but to be the man she deserves, he’ll have to step out of his defensive zone and score the most important play of his life…

Type: Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 out of 5
Rating: 4 out of 5

Amazon | All Romance | Goodreads
So. Sometimes you start out a book and all you can think is Run, hero, run!! Your heroine is crazy tunes!! But! Then things settle in and it turns out she's got a lot of awesome behind her as well. That was totally the case with Undefeated for me as Liam and Marlena--who have known each other since they were kids--realize that maybe...just maybe...that the person they need to help heal themselves from past traumas is each other despite a hard past together weighing on them and their two very different lifestyles.

So the quick of it is that Liam and Marlena are both pretty dang broken. By different things, in different ways. Some ways they don't even realize until things between them start to heat up and some freak outs come into play. And those are things they're going to have to deal with and work on since she'll be working with his hockey team in a very intimate way for the time being and they'll be unable to escape each other.

  • Right off the bat I loved Liam. This man is broken and working hard to mend himself after coming back from the war. He's harsh and a loner and has a hard time with civilian life and civilians in general after his time serving overseas and the traumas he went through. He suffers severe PTSD and is working through that with therapy and gah I just loved everything about him. His strengths, his struggles, his crassness. He's a good man just trying so hard and it can easily make him come off as a harsh careless person but he's doing what he has to to survive each day. Each hour. And keep going. 
  • I loved the set up as well for the book/series. A group of wounded veterans that have been brought together by a hockey team and a man who helps them work through their physical and mental struggles coming back to civilian life giving them a safe place and somewhere to work as well. Men who have been through hell and are true warriors. That have lost limbs and have deep emotional wounds but are there for each other and making new lives for themselves. I loved all the guys. They're interesting and unique and I just enjoyed seeing them together and working through their personal shit.

Really this was just one BIG thing...
  • I did not care for the women in this freaking all. I eventually did fall for the heroine (though it was real rough going the first 1/3rd of the book) but the rest of the support women--her friends, his sister--nope. Hell fucking nope. I could not stand them and really not sure I want to read their stories though maybe they'd surprise me. So my beef was things like Liam's sister calling him a monster and warning Marlene away from him because "he'll hurt her" and is abusive to women. And then in the next breath moaning how she's so hurt he won't spend time around her. She loves him! Why won't he love her too?! I really wanted to lay into her. Might it possibly be because you're always going on about how horrible he is?! Gah. No. I didn't care for the women at all.

There were a couple things I wasn't entirely on board with at the beginning but by the serious reader love....
  • Marlene and the romance. Marlene was a hard sell for me at the start. She does something--totally flips her shit--to Liam that I had a hard time getting past. She started out almost feeling bipolar. I got it eventually and what she was dealing with/causing her crazy but I still had a hard time with the connect on it. Though putting that aside once things were out in the open and being dealt with I did grow to really love her as a heroine. When she'd stop listening to her friends and would really see Liam and what he was going through. She could be very caring and exactly what he needed and in the end I really adored her.
"I love your mother. I used to wish she was my mother, too."

He reached his hand up her skirt, worked his fingers under her panties, and took a firm hold of her backside. "That would have been really inconvenient for me."

She wouldn't thought that the staggering number of orgasms he'd wrung from her body that weekend would've tempered her need, but seeing him dressed up like a wolf in sheep's clothing and the uncouth liberties his hands were taking had her hot and bothered in an instant.

She fingered the collar of his dress shirt. "I thought your mother told you to be a gentleman tonight."

"This is me being a gentleman. Otherwise, you'd be on your knees right now." He gave her ass a squeeze. "You'd better lock up so we can get out of here."
  • Their romance was interesting. It's not all sweetsy. That's just not something Liam can do anymore or has any desire to do. The nicieties of civilian life after coming back from the war are just too much for him. Small talk, typical dating outings, etc. He just can't do them. But the things they do share and go through together. How they help each other with their deep down tear-you-apart pain was incredible and you could really feel and see that bond forming between them. How they'd do anything for each other and to protect the other. That...was amazing to see happen and exactly the way his romance needed to go.
Overall though it took me a while to get into it I really ended on a good note with Undefeated. It's not your typical romance and the things Liam goes through are just incredibly heartbreaking but there's also a good bit of humor and some seriously scorching scenes that keep the book from being too "heavy". I don't know that I'll go on with the series--again I just didn't care for the women--but maybe one day. I don't know. They could end up surprising me like Marlena did. One can hope.


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