Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Badlands by Jill Sorenson

Title: Badlands
Author: Jill Sorenson
My Rating: A

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Aftershock #3
Main Characters: Owen and Penny
Release Date: December 2013
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Love is the most dangerous territory of all . . .

Every day, bodyguard Owen Jackson puts his life on the line — and keeps his feelings for Penny Sandoval locked away. Assigned to protect Penny's father, a presidential candidate, Owen can't get emotionally involved. That is, until Penny and her young son, Cruz, are abducted and taken deep into the California badlands.

Owen knows the bleak territory from his childhood. Worse, he knows the gang leader making ransom demands — his own brother, Shane. When a terrified Penny escapes into the desert with Cruz, Owen has to save her: from the elements and from the gang in close pursuit. Owen has hidden the darkness in his past from Penny. Now his only chance of keeping her alive is to let her see the man he really is — even if it means losing the only woman he'll ever want.

My Review:

We met Penny and Owen five years ago in the first book of this series when the overpass collapsed in the earthquake. At that point in time, Penny was 8 months pregnant, but Owen fell hopelessly in love with her then. She was 18, he was 21. She was the daughter of a powerful Latino congressman. He was a con and a member of the Aryan Brotherhood gang. Not exactly an expected match. That's why five years later, they have a stilted relationship...more of an acquaintance than anything. He's Penny's bodyguard now as her father makes his bid for the White House.

Since that week trapped, Owen has worked to turn his life around and he's been very successful at it. But that doesn't change the fact that he thinks he's not good enough for Penny. He's also promised her father that he'll stay completely professional with her. No friendship or anything more. 

For Penny, after the earthquake, her entire family realized how close she came to death and that changed things. They were never happy about her teenage pregnancy (in fact, they'd kicked her out), but the earthquake changed that and they took her back in. Penny was too grateful for that support and has since let her father dictate her life to a certain extent which she hates. The power her father holds over both of them is the one little issue I had with this book, but that is where the bulk of the conflict in the story comes from and there is a change in that as the book progresses. As a result, I can live with them being weak characters when it comes to standing up to her father at the beginning of the book. 

The book begins with Penny, Owen, and her five year old son, Cruz, being kidnapped by Shane, Owen's brother, and a group of the Aryan Brotherhood gang. They are taken to the Badlands, a desolate stretch of land where Owen grew up. It was interesting to "see" this bit of land that I've never heard of before. (note: Jill Sorenson has photos of her and her family visiting the areas talked about in the book on her blog which is really interesting to look at.) The entire book is action packed as the three of them try to get out of this situation. The action begins on page one and never ends. For a lot of RS authors, they use that adrenaline as an excuse for the romance. I liked that Jill Sorenson didn't do that. The romance is built up really slowly, even though both of these characters have been fighting their feelings for years. 

There is also some great backstory with Owen and how he ended up where he was....OMG, this guy....I loved him before, but now I love him even more. He made some mistakes along the way, but honestly, he was just trying to survive. His entire life has been a struggle and this book goes into all that. The last scenes between him and Shane (his brother) broke my heart...for both of them. That's one thing Jill Sorenson does really well....she can provide the human side of her characters...even the ones that are doing despicable things (here, I'm referring to Shane, not Owen). 

This book was a great end to the story of the people we met in the original book. While you absolutely can read this one without having read the last two, it's interesting to watch how Owen has grown and evolved over the years (yes, he was in book #2, also). Overall, it's been a great series and I was thrilled to see at the end that it's expanding. There is a book #4 coming... Yay!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

1 comment:

Felicia S said...

This was almost my TOT pick and I have started the book. Very good and totally agree with what you said so far :)