Saturday, December 6, 2014

Love's Paradox by Laura Kreitzer

Stalked by her abusive ex-fiancĂ©, Rae Zachery retaliates by singing karaoke and spilling all their dirty secrets to the entire bar. When her ex attempts to silence her brazen performance, sexy, leather-clad Parker comes to her rescue and soundly punches her ex in the face. As valiant and comedic as that may be, Rae finds Parker’s violent assistance unsettling, yet she can’t help but be drawn to him and his tragic past.

Fighting her attraction for Parker is a battle Rae can’t win, and soon their night of sharing secrets morphs into an undeniable bond. But fate won’t so easily relinquish her grip on their romantic, happily-ever-after. Instead of blissfully skipping into obscurity, Rae and Parker are subjected to her ex-fiancĂ©’s vicious proclivities. Who knew love could hurt so good?

Get lost in this contemporary romance with just enough comedy, drama, and suspense to keep you on your toes. 

Where to Buy

This book was something of a departure from what I normally read, but I'm glad I took the chance on it when it came recommended by a friend whose tastes often coincide with my own. While the overall situation that Rae and Parker find themselves in with Ian is dangerous and often dark, there is enough levity and happy times intermingled with the other to keep this from being a dark read overall. While I have some quibbles with things here and there that kept it from being a 5 star read for me, I'd certainly still rank it as one of the best books I've read this year.

Rae has survived an abusive relationship that she only barely managed to escape from and is struggling to put her life back together and put the past behind her. Refusing to play the victim, she does her best to take a stand against her ex and start a new life and new relationship with Parker. But besides the constant interference from Ian, her ex, she's also often her own worst enemy, for the fears and trust issues that are to be expected in someone who's been through what she has frequently rear their ugly heads and stand in the way of her finding the happiness she wants and deserves. Still, she doesn't let them stand in her way and constantly either faces them down, finds a way around them, or simply grits her teeth and plunges on ahead despite them to get what she wants. She refuses to let anything or anyone hold her down--even well-meaning Parker whose attempts to help her often seem a bit too smothering to her. As she states herself at one point, she doesn't want or need to be coddled, she wants a partner that will have her back as she fights her own battles.

Parker comes from privilege and money, but eschews his conservative family's views on most things. Still mourning the loss of his sister, who died at the hands of her abusive lover, he has a definite soft spot for women who are or have been abused. That alone makes him want to help Rae free herself from Ian who continues to stalk her and harasses her at every opportunity. He finds this harder and harder to do as his feelings for Rae grow, however, for he begins to fear that he might lose her the same way he lost his sister because she refuses to do things that to his mind would keep her safe. Struggling with his alpha tendencies that make him want to protect her, he ultimately is forced to realize that he has to let Rae be herself and handle things her own way. The line between being supportive and being controlling can be very thin at times and he crosses it more than once; but then again, he is only human and his mistakes and emotional struggles serve to make him a more believable and loveable character.

Writing about victims of domestic abuse, particularly those that are still experiencing it to some degree even once they've gotten away, is never an easy topic to navigate, but I felt that the author handled it quite well in this book. Meeting Parker is far from an insta-cure for Rae, for her struggle continues to be quite real throughout and not just because of Ian's continuing harassment and refusal to just let her go already. Even when everything is said and done and they're into their HEA she continues to have issues, though finally achieving closure on the situation with Ian does go a long way toward helping her truly put it all behind her and let go of the fears that have held her her back. The way that closure is achieved is quite spectacular, no one really comes away from it totally unscathed. I did find the ending disappointing, however, for while it ended mostly the way I wanted it to, the way in which it did so was rather a bit too strange. I think the author was going for a humorous ending, but it kind of fell flat for me because it was too difficult to tell whether they were pretending to feel a certain way or not.

Overall I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes contemporary romance with an edge. While not as gritty as I imagine some of the bad-boy biker romances out there are (I haven't really read any of them myself to say for sure), it's definitely not all sunshine and rainbows and happy times. Trigger warnings definitely apply here though, and anyone who has been in a situation such as Rae's should be aware that this book may cause you problems and may be one you'd want to avoid for it does include a few scenes of relatively graphic violence. While not quite a 4½ star read for me, I'd put it at slightly higher than a plain 4 as well as putting it somewhere among my top 10 reads for the year so far.

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