Series: Aftershock #4
Published by Harlequin on 2014-06-01
Amazon US • Amazon UK • Nook •
The more you trust, the more you risk…
When plans for a wilderness retreat with her teenage daughter Brooke go awry, Abby Hammond reluctantly pairs up with Brooke's stepbrother and his dad, Nathan Strom, for the weeklong trek. The only thing Abby has in common with the bad-boy former pro athlete is that their exes cheated with each other. That…and a visceral attraction that's growing more complicated with every step through the picturesque woods.
Nathan's wild-card reputation lost him his career and his family. After years of regret, he's ready to fight for what truly matters—and that includes Abby's hard-won trust. When Brooke goes missing, Nathan knows he's her best and only hope of rescue. But the deeper into the rugged mountains they go, the more dangerous the territory will prove—for their safety and for their hearts.
FTC : I requested this from NetGalley as I have with all of this series.
This book was unexpected. Unlike the rest of the series (which I would have tagged Suspense with a romantic sub-thread) this was Romantic Suspense. It has fantastic characters, fantastic dialogue and very tense suspense plot, just like the rest of the series, but that is where the similarities end. It didn’t feel like an Aftershock book but that isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy it. With more characters, there is more switching POV’s, which can be a little dizzying although the actual switching does flow very well, and there is also a NA romance thread. I need to clarify that, although the characters Brooke and Leo are technically Step-brother and Step-sister, there is no blood relationship. They have different parents but, as some reviewers have found this relationship questionable, I thought I should point it out as they have been Step-siblings for 7 years.
Although the main relationship mentioned in the blurb is the one between Nathan and Abby, I didn’t notice any extra time given to their relationship. In fact, there is time given to all four relationships (The hero-heroine romances and the parent-child relationships), this book probably felt more romantic as half of the relationships in it are romances.
I liked the Nathan and Abby relationship. Both have been burned by love and are have put any future love interests on hold. The main priority for the both of them is to work on the relationship they have with their child and they struggle with keeping this a priority throughout the book. I loved the way they helped each other develop as a parent; Abby tried to help Nathan with his relationship with Leo and Nathan tried to limit Abby’s protective over-mothering of Brooke. I also enjoyed the openness they had with all of the other characters in the book. Whether it is professing their attraction to each-other or Nathan disclosing facts about his past relationship with his father to Leo, both of them seem to have no time for half-truths or confusion and I love characters like this. When their relationship evolves into a more sexual one, it seems to take on a new depth and I enjoyed it even more. The sex scenes were on-page and hot as hell by the way 😀
Brooke and Leo were a different kettle of fish as, like true teenagers, their entire relationship was built on half-truths and misunderstandings. Both wanted each other, both didn’t know what to do with those feelings and neither had bothered to ask the other how they other felt about this. They were defined, before they ever had romantic feelings about each other, as Step-Siblings and it was a relationship Leo struggled with especially. This was made harder for him by Brooke.Brooke was constantly flaunting her sexuality at Leo, making him uncomfortable and I’m not sure she quite understood what she was doing. Another reason I loved the character of Abby was that she took the time to explain to her that what she was doing was wrong and harassment (if only this was a conversation more parents had). I did respect the fact that Brooke took onboard what was said to her and thought about her actions. It was a sweet relationship but I can understand people’s objections to it, especially when Brooke was constantly trying to flirt with Leo whilst referring to him as “step-brother” minutes later. I was hooked by their story, wanting to know just what the heck was going to go on between them (if anything!).
My favourite plot is the fraught relationship between Leo and Nathan. Nathan has been a shitty, absentee dad with alcohol abuse issues but, now clean and sober, he craves a relationship with Leo. He has no idea what is expected of him and his frustrations made my heart bleed. Having no positive Father role models, he has no idea what to say or how to act. He also has to learn the hard lesson that being a sperm donor does not give you parental rights, that being an actual parent gives you the right to respect and a voice of opinion. Abby facilitates this relationship by being the voice of an experienced parent but it is Nathan himself that puts the time and effort into the relationship and I hoped Leo could stop being angry with him.
The suspense plot was as creepy as I have become to expect from Jill Sorenson. It was there to fuel all of the relationships and it was fantastic. The ending of that plot was pretty unexpected and I can’t help but hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of a particular person.
Overall, this is a very different story to the rest of the Aftershock books and, unlike them, I think it could be read as a standalone. With complicated family relationships, complicated young love and a refreshingly uncomplicated romance, this could be one that checks many boxes for many romance readers. The incredibly creepy suspense plot helped keep my interest too 🙂