Monday, February 3, 2014

Indulging in Irelyn by D.L. Raver

NFL quarterback, Zolt Hamil was America’s heartthrob until a career ending injury changed his life. Years later, he’s picked up the pieces and carved out a new path for himself. But the mental and physical scars of that day have left him moody and reclusive, and his only relief is indulging in pleasure and pain with his many one night stands. Though many women have tried, Zolt refuses to care about any of them. Only one woman has his heart; a hallucination of a young, sable-eyed, blonde beauty whom he conjured that painful day on the football field.

On the first day at his new job at a law firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, Zolt comes face to face with his hallucination, Irelyn Wilkes. Their fateful connection, and explosive passion for each other pulls them together, and this time, Zolt refuses to let her slip from his life.

But Irelyn has her own demons to fight and her controlling boyfriend is one of them. He doesn't take kindly to other people playing with his toys, and he’ll stop at nothing to keep her by his side.

Can Irelyn and Zolt defy the odds and find a way to be together? Or, will the events set in motion years ago keep them apart forever?

Where to Buy

This book will take you on a wild and sexy ride and leave you wondering which way is up by the end of it. It's been awhile since a book has left me so speechless and uncertain what to think or feel when I finished it. On the one hand I'm quite impressed at how much the author manages to make you feel for and about the characters, on the other the jaw-dropping cliffhanger of an ending has left me with all sorts of conflicted emotions ranging from sadness at how broken these people are, fear about what's going to happen to them, and rage at how it all played out. It's going to take awhile for this one to process I think.

Irelyn, at 21, is surprisingly mature for her age for the most part. She still has her moments where her youth and inexperience shows, however, and I think the ending is one of the main places where it really gets her into trouble. Overall though, she doesn't read like a young character, and for those of us that get fed up with all the young and immature heroines that seem to flood romances it's refreshing. She's courageous, intelligent, not generally given to impulsive behavior, and also not willing to let people walk all over her. She'll bide her time, but she won't put up with things indefinitely. And yet, that trace of youthful insecurity that remains in her proves to be her undoing I think as it becomes part of the catalyst that throws things headlong into the train wreck ending.

Zolt is a very broken and messed up character, both physically and mentally. He's well aware of the fact, and warns Irelyn about it from the beginning, which is good as far as that goes. There's no denying that he really is an a----le at times, to most everyone around him, and he doesn't always do much to try to censor that behavior in himself and instead just blames it on his "shadow self". The problem is that he's not really dealing with the mess his psyche is in, simply employing coping strategies that keep him more or less functional without really addressing the core issues. And this comes back to bite him big time eventually when one small thing causes him to suddenly snap and go careening off the deep end, another part of the train wreck catalyst.

Overall I really liked this book. The chemistry between Zolt and Irelyn is off-the-charts hot and truly heartwarming. It's great to see how his love for her begins to start mending what's broken in him. Unfortunately the situation they find themselves in is so volatile that they just aren't given the amount of time and peace that it would take for any true healing to really take root. Instead, stress piles upon stress until it's suddenly too much and everything blows up in their faces. And if that's all there was to it I'd not have nearly as much problem with things for it's really something that needed to happen for Zolt to really start to get over things. Instead the external circumstances still don't give them a break, and just when they're at their most vulnerable the few scraps of rug they still had left get pulled from under them. Even with all that extra crap that happens to them, I'd still be ok with it except that matters are left in such a seemingly hopeless state of affairs at the end. It's just all dark and bleak without much of a shred of light or hope left. It's this -- the way they are both so thoroughly crushed at the end -- that leaves more than a bit of a bad taste in my mouth about it all.

I really can't end this review without touching on the topic of Marcus, Irelyn's boyfriend at the beginning of the story. The man is pure, unadulterated evil. So much so it almost defies comprehension. Lord Voldemort had more humanity in him than this man seems to have. Seriously, I'd say he needs to die in a fire, but that would be too easy of a death for him I think. It's clear that we're supposed to hate him with a passion, and the author does a fabulous job at making us hate him. The main problem to my mind is that he is so completely evil and amoral, and the situation he traps Irelyn in at the end seems so bleak that it's hard to see how this can turn out okay eventually. Though to be entirely fair, the clincher to me -- the thing that really made me go WTF?? No! -- is one of Irelyn's actions at the very end; the answer she gives Zolt to a key question. To me it was just wrong, and short sighted, though it's also where her youth and inexperience betrays her I think.

Final analysis? It's a great book. It'll really make you feel the all the feels as they say, both good and bad, and even if I don't like how it ends I have to give the author lots of credit for making me care enough about her characters to get as upset about it all as I did. There will be at least one more book in their story I'm told, and that's good given the monster cliffhanger we're left with here, but I'm at a bit of a loss to see how this will work out, and I have a feeling it's not going to work out completely -- one way or another there are bound to be some casualties in all this mess. Just who and what they will be, and how Zolt and Irelyn will resolve things between them and create a stable relationship (for surely the will eventually? this is romance after all...) is anyone's guess. Four stars -- perhaps a touch more even -- to a very powerful book.

Note: I received a free ARC copy of this from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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