Three and a half stars
Soldiers and team-mates, Ridge Gates and Cale Easton are closer than brothers and serve together in the army, watching each others backs. When Cale is killed in a mortar attack in Afghanistan, Ridge wishes he could have died instead. However, he made a promise to the dying Cale to look after his twin sister, Avery, and he intends to honour that. He’s been in love with Avery for years – as long as he’s known Cale – and he’s long since accepted that Avery deserves better than a Grunt. Especially one as damaged as him. He has no idea that Avery is in love with him.
The night Cale’s body is brought back the US is hard for both of them and they meet up in a hotel. Avery needs Ridge, and no longer as just a friend.
Everything he’d ever wanted was right here in front of him and he’d be a bastard for taking it, or a bastard for refusing.
Avery looked at him. “Pretend I’m someone else if you have to. Just give me this.”
After possibly the best night of sex ever, for both of them, Ridge slips out and leaves while she’s asleep, starting a pattern that lasts throughout the story.
She’d thrown herself at him, practically begged him to take her and God, she’d had to force him with her thoughts.
Shame. What she’d done to him was shameful and degrading. She’d even told him to pretend she was someone else if he had to. Did she really believe he’d want her after all these years of him basically ignoring her? What a pathetic dope she was.
“He used you, Avery.”
“No, she said. I used him.”
Their feelings for each other are complicated by a strange psychic connection that Avery shared with her twin – one that seems to have now transferred to Ridge. It takes her a while to tell him about this, during which time he thinks he’s losing his mind.
“I can’t believe this,” he muttered, looking as though he wanted to run. “So you can invade my head at any time?”
Invade, the word cut through her like a hot knife. He made her sound like a villain in some science fiction movie… it wasn’t like that.
“I don’t invade your head,” she answered calmly.
“Then what the fuck do you call it?”
Their on-off relationship is complicated by the addition of local cop, Kevin Stone, who takes a liking to Avery – and an instant dislike for Ridge. He joins the story when Avery’s house is broken into and all her belongings smashed up. Avery’s life is suddenly in danger and it has to be connected to the final, doomed mission in Afghanistan. Ridge’s memories are hazy – had Cale done something – or found something – that he shouldn’t?
This story engaged me and annoyed me in equal parts. Avery and Ridge grieved and loved and fought, with buckets full of emotion, but it became a little repetitive. They’d make up, have sex, then Ridge would run away again. True, he had his reasons, but I’m annoyed with him for behaving like that – and for Avery putting up with it. Even more irritating was when she played with Stone, dangling him and his interest to boost her bruised ego. Stone made the situation plain to Ridge:
“That woman is hurting, and most of the hurt is coming because of you. Either cut her loose and stop dangling her or step up and be a man. As of now, she has options. Keep that in mind.”
It bugged me that Stone fell for Avery so quickly, he seemed too rounded a character to fall head over heels in love with a woman on Day One. And while his dislike of Ridge seemed genuine enough, it was obvious they’d become friends.
So…. It was a good read, but not brilliant. 3.5 out of 5.
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