Book: Cruel Water
Series: a Prortland, ME, novel
Author: Freya Barker
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hosted By:Francessca’s Romance Reviews
Innocence marked her…
Violation crippled her…
Love left her raw…
The life she carefully rebuilt is challenged when she is confronted with the sins from her past. The carefully applied protection is at once ripped away, leaving her exposed and vulnerable.
Her single night of indulgence with the silver-eyed stranger is only the beginning. He sees right to the heart of her and she is unable to ward off emotions that have been deeply buried. With the sting of betrayal still fresh in her soul, she’s surprised to find herself opening up to the honest integrity of the sharp-eyed, rough-looking biker.
When he lost everyone who mattered, he was left without roots and learned to be content simply living in the moment. Completely unprepared for the feisty blonde bartender with old pain marring her clear-blue eyes, he questions his own rules of detachment, as she unwittingly finds a way under his skin.
Appearances deceive and when the masks fall away, revealing deep, dark secrets, there is nothing left but to hang onto each other and survive the storm.
I should probably leave right now. I’ve had my beer and my dinner, I should just head home. I’m really not looking to get involved with—nor am I equipped to deal with—a woman who comes with obvious complications. Yet despite the thoughts in my head, my mouth has a different plan. “I’d like to take you out.”
Something flickers in her eyes before she shakes her head and looks down at her hands. “Don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Actually—” I sit up straighter, suddenly determined to get her to agree. “You already said yes.” I hold back a chuckle that wants out when I see her frown in confusion.
“I did? When was that?”
“You agreed to talk to me, so that’s what we’ll do: talk over dinner.” I try for a disarming grin, afraid I’m botching it up and make myself look slightly deranged.
She presses her lips together, but amusement sparkles in those eyes. “Didn’t know you were talking ‘date’, nor can I remember saying yes to anything.” She left that door wide open, and I’ll be damned if I don’t go barging in.
Leaning closer I pin her with my eyes. “I fondly remember a time you were saying yes to everything.”
When the meaning of my words register, her eyes darken and she sharply takes in a breath. “No fair,” she whispers.
“I know,” I whisper back, never losing eye contact.
A war wages on her face before she finally concedes on a sigh.
Despite the grudging response, the words are music to my ears. It’s only later, when I finally do leave the pub to go home, that I remember my earlier resolve to steer clear of complications.
Well, so much for that.
After a bit of a slow start, I found that the romance and suspense picked up nicely. Viv (Vivian) meets Ike at The Skipper, and for the first time in many years, allows a man into her life in a sexual way. She is determined to be independent at 35 years old and avoids intimate relationships with men. The men in her life now are like brothers to her, safe and protective. Ike is about to change her mind.
Her domestic violence situation that she thought she had left in the past and on another coast has come back to haunt her. I appreciated that she was one of those women who stayed in the relationship and causes us to rail against her. So easy to judge unfairly. As the she reveals why she stayed, I became sympathetic.
Then Ike has his own past secret. And there is a hint of another issue hidden/ denied by Viv. What happened prior to the domestic violence relationship? This is revealed in a way that makes the most sense.
Her father is experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s and can no longer be taken care of by his wife of 50 years. This brings all of her brothers back for a bit and allow her a second chance with them. This story is about re-connecting with family, allowing your friends into your life a bit more, and falling for a very sexy guy (42 y/o).
There are quite a few sexy, erotic scenes as well as action scenes where Viv proves just how capable she is of handling anything that threatens her… with some help by Ike, Gunnar, Syd, Pam, and others. She went from being isolated, ashamed, and hurt to having amazing people there for her. The importance of remembering the past, going pasting coping into healing, and making room for love made this book a bit stronger and memorable for me. It’s a standalone and book 2 of the Portland, ME series.
Note: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I have read one other book by this author, and I own a box set from the Cedar Tree series. I have not read book 1 in this series, and it did not affect my enjoyment or understanding of the storyline.
Other Books In the series
CURRENTLY ON SALE!
”From Dust” (#1)
What Others Are saying
I have only one thing to say about this novel… Inspiring.
Freya Barker has written a story that is gritty, raw and real. A story about what happens when you have the worst thing imaginable happen to you, and the people who should be your support system, don’t believe you. ~ Kez Korner
A five star sensational read. ~ Obsessed by Books
This is one explosive story, touching on subjects sure to tear you apart at times, but it is written with such skill that makes their story so amazing. ~ Lillians Book Blog
This is a breathtaking story of a damaged heroine supported by an strong man who is still recovering from his own emotional wounds. It takes you on journey towards happiness, forgiveness and above all a hope for a future lived free of a painful past. ~ Jezabell Girl and Friends
About The Author
A recipient of the RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for best first book, “Slim To None,” Freya has since published eight books. She continues to spin story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!
Other books by Freya Barker
Slim To None (#1)
Hundred To One (#2)
Against Me (#3)
Clean Lines (#4)
Upper Hand (#5)
Like Arrows (#6)