RELEASE DATE: MARCH 14 2017
STEAMY/DARK/GRAPHIC? HELL YES!
Watchmaker. Car thief. Heartbreaker extraordinaire.
Rooke Blackheath has spent enough time in juvie to know that he really doesn’t want to go to jail. The food sucks, the clothes itch, and there are absolutely no women in sight. Well…none he wants to fuck, anyway.
He should probably stop boosting cars, but the money is stellar and the high is out of this world. And why should he turn his back on something that sets his soul on fire anyway?
The answer to that question comes in an unexpected form: a petite five-foot-three firecracker named Sasha who refuses to give him the time of day no matter how thick he lays on the charm.
Rooke’s not easily deterred, though. Just like the watches he builds from scratch, Rooke knows all too well how women tick. Women are a game to him. A game he always wins.
Sasha doesn’t stand a chance.
Sasha Cross’s life has been permanently derailed since her son died five years ago. You wouldn’t know it to look at her, of course. She has a great job, a beautiful house, and caring friends. Every week, she hosts a book club featuring the sexiest, most romantic stories on the planet, and every week she falls for a new fictional knight in shining armor.
Fictional men are perfect, though. They don’t hurt you. They don’t break your heart. They don’t cheat on you after your child dies, and they rarely ever leave the toilet seat up.
When Rooke Blackheath shows up at Sasha’s workplace, it’s clear he’s nothing like the men who grace the pages of Sasha’s favorite books. Dangerous, arrogant, sharp-tongued and sarcastic, Rooke’s not the kind of guy she needs in her life. Not to mention the fact that he’s eleven years her junior.
They don’t live in different worlds. As far as Sasha is concerned, Rooke lives in a different galaxy altogether. She’d like to keep it that way, but fate appears to have other plans.
When Cinderella lost her shoe, Prince Charming showed up at her door.
When Sasha Cross loses her book, an entirely different kind of rogue comes a-knocking.
As the story opens, Sasha is essentially frozen in time although she does her best to put a game face on each day. The past 5 years have been a blur of self inflicted punishment for the accident that resulted in her son Christopher’s death but left her breathing if not actually living. She hasn’t been able to move forward and won’t absolve herself of guilt for what was clearly an accident, and every day is a reminder of her failure living in the same house with his room preserved in a time warp shrine exactly the way it appeared the last time he walked out of it. She has no interest in having a man in her life again either despite her friends’ urging to the contrary, preferring the book boyfriends discovered on the pages of their book club reads instead.
Her job is the one thing that brings her any semblance of joy anymore, and she certainly never expects to cross paths with the strikingly handsome, dark, and dangerous Rooke Idlewild Blackheath there.
A rook is a chess piece, but it’s also a kind of crow . Dark, mysterious, clever, wily and brazen. I can already attribute all of these traits to the tall man standing next to me and I only met him a second ago.
They briefly spar in one of the corridors, and while Sasha is left vaguely unsettled by the impact this younger man has on her emotions, Rooke just finds himself intrigued. He has learned to live in the moment and lives for the rush of an adrenaline high, but he has some emotional scars of his own. He recognizes a fellow damaged soul and wants to get to know her better despite the clear mile high walls that she has built around herself. When she inadvertently drops her current book club read with her information tucked inside it, she opens the door for him to cross her path again.
Rooke made me laugh when he started reading the book to see what type of story she is carrying around but that quickly turned to a few moments of needing to fan myself too! When he shows up on her doorstep to discuss the book with her friends, Sasha is floored as she is torn between anger and embarrassment. She is deliberately stubborn, rude and abrasive to Rooke to try to push him away and keep the walls firmly in place around her heart but he is made of stronger stuff than she anticipated. She finally gives in and grants him one date, thinking she will walk away afterward without a backward glance. Oh Sasha, you poor silly woman underestimating a force of nature like that!
Rooke has made his mistakes and paid the price in the past, and his parents shunned him after his time in juvie, particularly his father. He knows that Sasha is already looking for any reason she can think of to push him away, so he decides to lay all his cards on the table. He covers everything ranging from her concern about the age difference to revealing his checkered past to his extracurricular activities liberating autos to taking her to a restaurant and club owned by an acquaintance who just so happens to be a mob boss too. Yikes! He leaves her no option but to hear him and face her fears rather than running to the nearest corner to hide and shut him out – and he doesn’t pull any punches when laying it out.
“You think the amount of days I’ve been alive on this planet has any real bearing on how well I can fuck you? You think the date on my driver’s license means I won’t be able to make you come? That I won’t be able to love you? That I won’t be able to make you happy? If that’s the case, then you are the child here, not me. You’re clinging to this age bullshit like it’s a life raft that’s saving you from drowning, Sasha, when it’s the only thing dragging you under. This moment, here, right now… this is the only time when our ages will ever really matter.”
There’s that fine line between love and hate that he carefully walks with her, but his gamble pays off – and dang, does it get hot and heavy, in more ways than one! He discovered the source of her pain although she has yet to share it with him, and he has his work cut out for him to break through her barriers enough to see that she can trust him with her secret and her heart. Rooke has the ability to see straight through to the heart of her, and she simultaneously loves and hates that one person can see her so clearly. She is scared to death to let him in because she isn’t sure she has the strength to survive another soul crushing event – and a relationship with Rooke promises to be all- encompassing.
You’ll be my sun. My moon. My gravity, and my heart. I’m willing to let it happen. The question is, do you want that? Or… a better question. Do you want to risk not having that ? This is real, Sasha.
Things turn chaotic just when she makes the choice to accept him into her life though. First a random event tilts her world on its axis, then there’s self inflicted damage on what would have been Christopher’s birthday, and then Rooke’s business dealings manage to throw them into upheaval in a big way too. In the midst of the madness, she has a few moments of clarity. Rooke is unexpectedly layered with his alpha male dominance, protectiveness and need to live on the wild side that is tempered by genuine affection and love for her. Accepting him means committing to really living again for the first time in years and letting go of the relative safety of stagnation.
There’s a darkness inside him. The night owns him, or at least it owns a decent sized chunk of him. There will always be a side to him that needs rebellion and destruction. The real question is, can I accept that? Can I make my peace with it? And if I can, then how does that kind of chaos fit into my life?
Sasha’s emotional transition from the first page to the last is amazing, and it is facilitated largely by Rooke with a little help from her best friend. She had to reach deep to find her strength again, and it is evident in the last few chapters as crisis moments pile up in rapid fashion that she found it. I wanted to high five her for the way she handled her ex’s presentation of the way he was coping with and moving on from his son’s death – because really, the man is an idiot in my eyes! I loved Rooke’s flamboyant boss at the watch shop for his colorful personality and much needed levity to offset some of the darker and heavier moments too. All in all, Rooke is another great read from Callie Hart that shouldn’t be missed!