A heartrending, seductively sweet and vibrantly charged story about first kisses, second chances and the one true and last love.
“I always thought it was the firsts that matter, but now I know that it’s the lasts that stay with you… I want you to be the last girl that touches any and all parts of me, Salem, and that means so much more than a first.”
When Salem Cruz was old enough she left her hometown of Loveless. Escaped her parents that ruled her life with tyranny. Left her beloved younger sister Poppy and the next door blue-eyed boy who from a young age made her smile and wanted nothing more than to make her dreams come true. Leaving behind a big gap in his young heart.
“Salem, however, had been my confidante, my confessor, and maybe most importantly she had offered a lonely and unwanted boy friendship and acceptance. She was my very best friend and I was lost without her.”
Rowland St. James was orphaned at the tender age of six. He had been abandoned by one Cruz sister at fifteen. And the one he thought was his first love shattered his heart when she told him he was not right for her. He left everything behind, but even though he believes his life is plagued by bad luck, with time he’s found a calling he’s passionate about and group of friends who he calls family, even when he’ll no longer trust women.
“I couldn’t trust myself not to fall back into caring about her, trusting her, being captivated by her, only to have her move on once again, leaving me empty and alone.”
Ever since Salem left, she’s been a gypsy, a nomad, wondering from one place to another without knowing that with each step she’s moving closer to her final destination. Once the opportunity to work at the same place as her sweet blue-eyed neighbor arises, she doesn’t hesitate to take it. Because resolute in showing Rowdy St. James, she’s always been the right sister for him.
“Rowdy and I had ties that bound us together, it was just proving more difficult than I thought to unwind them and tie them back up into a pretty bow.”
With the doors from his past open, he’ll soon be facing both Cruz sisters. Can Salem overcome her fears regarding Rowdy and her sister’s relationship? Will Rowdy be able to put his heart on the line and understand that it’s not the first but the last girl he falls for who is important?
Salem had been the one person who truly understood him. She had been his happy harbor until she left without a backward glance. She also serves to remind him of the hurt her sister had caused. And the fact that Rowdy thought he had loved and lost his one true love is a huge matter of concern for Salem.
“We are definitely doing this, we just might not be doing it right all of the time, and that road might have a speed bump or two.”
I have adored all of the men in the Marked series. “Those boys have more love in them than they know what do with,” and Rowdy is no exception. I felt a fist around my heart for all his loss, but elated by how he had made his own happiness. He was charming and sexy and once he got over being mad a Salem, he knew exactly how to take care her.
“something was happening between us that had shades of the past and flavors of the future all mixed together in one giant ball of emotion and experience.”
Salem is strong and independent, warm and compassionate. Sassy and sexy and just perfect for Rowdy. She fit perfectly and seamlessly with the tight-knit Marked family.
Facing a past with so many sad memories is not easy. They both had to familiarize with the grownups they had become and come to the realization that what they had as teenagers was so much more.
“I just wanted to be around you all the time because it was like having the warm rays of the sun touch everything that was so cold inside of me.”
I loved that there was no incredibly angsty drama. Rowdy and Salem slowly and surely worked on the issues from their past in order to look forward to their future in a way I very much enjoyed throughout this story about letting go of fear and enjoying what life brings, laced with sweet tender moments as well as a hot, explosive romance.
“We looked good together naked. I liked the way our ink blended together into one giant mural.”
Add to that the wonderful secondary characters new and old that give so much heart to the story with their unquestionable loyalty and kinship. Because it’s not just about the main characters, all the other relationships are also highlighted and made to matter.
Since the first time I read a Jay Crownever book, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her unique mostly narrative style of writing, which not only provides vivid imagery but also lends to wonderful character development where emotions are very much explored. I trust her to deliver a beautiful story that will touch my heart with the depth of feelings the characters have for one another. And that’s exactly what I got.
I’m sure I highlighted a good chunk of the book, from quotes that made me laugh to ones that made me cry, but most that made me swoon and fan myself and “sent warm and gooey threads of love and happiness” to my soul and make me wish I could share all of them with you.
One last note. I didn’t even look at the blurb for this book. So it didn’t occur to me that this might be a love triangle involving sisters. For those of you who might worry about this, rest assured it’s not the case.
I’m sorry if I went overboard with the review, the teasers and the pics. I just loved it that much. Rowdy is book 5 in the Marked Men series by Jay Crownover. It can be read as a standalone. Written from both points of view. It has interconnecting characters from past books, with a beautiful happy ending. No cheating.