*****5 ‘Perception in Paragraphs’ STARS*****

“Fate’s a tricky beast.”

Guilt is a powerful motivator.  It can push you forward or it can punish you.  We’re our own worst enemies.  A powerful story of tragic fates, unimaginable guilt and the transforming power of forgiveness and love, Aly Martinez had me hooked from the prologue as I was absorbed in this story of two strangers reunited for a second chance at life…and a new love.

“In every person’s life there are key moments that stick with them for a lifetime.”

Punishing guilt and shame are an everyday accessory for Jude Levitt (H), he wears them well.  Struggling with the choices he’s made his life has become one big series of regrets.  In one blink he lost everything and it’s not lost on him that it’s entirely.  His.  Fault.  Ready to face his past and make a new future he’s headed back where his nightmares began; a new job at Guardian Protection Agency is the first piece to his puzzle…or so he thinks.

“I couldn’t change the past.  And she couldn’t stop rewriting it.”

Rhion Park (h) is a scarred up and tatted survivor, she wears it well.  Spending years healing and learning how to move forward with her life there’s just one thing she hasn’t come to terms with…Jude Levitt, her hero, her rescuer.  Her therapy – the written word.  Her rehabilitation – the reality she recreates on paper.  But reality is about to turn Rhion’s world upside down when she comes face to face with the man who’s dominated her thoughts never knowing she dominates his as well.

“I lived in his nightmares.  He lived in my dreams.”

By turns tragic and heartening I devoured this book.  Watching these two broken people struggle to find their forgiveness, to abandon their shame, was incredibly emotional.  The catalyst of this story, the night of the fire, is agonizing in itself, but seeing the unknown pieces revealed by Jude and Rhion was both heartbreaking and healing in their brutal honesty with each other.  The issues this couple confronts are very real and handled incredibly well.  Although they struggle and have issues in their new relationship, I loved that Jude and Rhion talked and listened to each other – took the time to explain and show each other that they mattered, that their relationship, their love was worth the pain.

“And there was nothing I wanted more than memories with Jude.”

Adding a little more suspense, angst and humor – a robust cast of secondary characters rounds out this tale.  The men of Guardian are a huge family and seeing them rally to support, protect and harass Rhion like their sister-from-another-mister throughout had me grinning and snorting a few times.  Rhion’s surrogate and blood family are a twist I didn’t see coming.  Everything’s not as is seems and had me changing my tune several times.  I look forward to seeing these stories and characters develop as the series moves forward.

“In that moment, nothing else existed.

Not failure.

Not regret.

Not guilt.

Not fear.”

Highly emotional with a beautiful payoff worth all the pain and heartache, I adored Jude and Rhion and can’t wait to catch glimpses of them in the future.  Add in the tiny teasing glances into several characters side stories and I’m ready for more of these hot alpha bodyguards and the women who will own their hearts.

“I only said it was real, Butterfly.  I never said it wasn’t a dream.”

K’s Category: 3rd date, several novels read by author to date.

Characters: M/F


Sex: Yes, descriptive


Standalone: Yes, this is the first in a series.