Series: Loveless, Texas #2
Author: Jay Crownover
Format: Paperback/eBook, 433 pages
Publication: Feb. 25, 2020 by Forever
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Wine Glasses
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series comes an irresistible and suspenseful romance between a tough Texas Ranger and his first love--a woman in danger who insists she doesn't need his protection.
Hill Gamble is a model lawman: cool and collected, with a confident swagger to boot. Too bad all that Texas charm hasn't gotten him anywhere in his personal life, especially since the only girl he ever loved has always been off-limits. But then Hill is assigned to investigate her father's mysterious death, and he's forced back to the town--and the woman--he left behind.
When Hill left Loveless, he broke Kody Lawton's already battered heart. And now that he's working on her father's case, avoiding him is impossible. She can handle Hill and her unwanted feelings--until he puts his life on the line to protect her. Suddenly, Kody realizes that Hill could be taken away from her...for good.
Kody and Hill have history, the kind where Kody was engaged to Hill's brother and Hill harbored a secret love for her. Kody resented Hill for taking a step back from her and his brother and after his brother killed himself, Kody barely wanted to speak to Hill.
Now that they're older and Hill is assisting in the investigation into Kody's father's murder, there is no escaping each other.
They've had a painful past but maybe there's love in their future.
“I never want to see you again, Hill Gamble. I hate you.”
Second in the Loveless, Texas series, Unforgiven gives us Kody Lawton and Hill Gamble's story. A novella and first in the series starred Kody's brothers, Case and Crew, while giving reader's glimpses at the pain and unresolved feelings between Kody and Hill. The author does a great job of recapping anything you might need to know from the series and I would say you could comfortably pick this up without reading the rest in the series.
Half the time I don't know if I'm helping or hurting things where you're concerned. I'm always trying my best to do right by you, Kody, trying to be all the different things you need me to be. I failed at that task once before. I don't want to let you down again.”
Hill is back in town to help assist in the murder investigation for Kody's father. He was an abusive alcoholic who made Kody and her brother's childhood miserable and while he was sheriff, he committed many corrupt acts; due to this, the murder suspects could be endless. While the murder investigation is the reason to keep Hill in town, the majority of the story is focused on the relationship between Kody and Hill.
I thought the author did a good job showing the emotional struggle of Hill feeling guilty for having feelings for Kody and distancing himself from her and his brother because of it and how Kody not realizing his feelings, being angry with how she felt he abandoned them. I thought there was some repetitiveness with Kody going over and over how Hill wasn't there for her and how she had always saw him as her protector only to have him cut her off, in the first half. However, I did think it gave some emotional heft to the story and Kody's character when Kody works through why she pushed away her feelings for Hill in the beginning and accepted, transferred them to Hill's brother.
He kissed me back in a way that made me wonder if he'd been secretly fantasizing about this moment for as long as I had.
Kody had her frustrating immature moments at times, due to age and/or simply impulsive personality type but our Texas Ranger Hill was the perfect calm, cool, and collected hero who burned hot for her. I thought the war he battled with himself in wanting to help his brother with his issues of bipolar and depression but not being able to be around Kody when he felt so deeply for her were expressed emotionally through the writing.
Could a guy like him, controlled, concise...and, more importantly, honest and law-abiding, even have feelings for someone as messy and reckless as I was?
The murder mystery involving Kody's father is only half-way solved, in that it is revealed who was most likely responsible but that the person isn't caught. The whole murder mystery comes off as its sole purpose was to bring in the character Presley, who turns out to be a secret half-sister to Kody and her brothers. She looks to be the heroine in the next book along with Kody's friend Shot, the President of a motorcycle club called the Son's of Sorrow. If you're looking for more of focus on a friends-enemies-lovers with second chance-ish romance, this would be it. Internal character dialogue with emotional searching and growth that slowly changes into external between Kody and Hill is most of this book rather than outside plot threads driving the show.
I enjoyed the return to Loveless and liked how the author has interwoven the characters, loved how Kody and the two past heroines have invited Presley to their girl's night. I'm definitely looking forward to reading how Presley and Shot get together.
“You. My entire world looks like you.”
It was about time, because mine had always looked like her.
Suggested Reading Order:
Book #1 Justified
Book #2 Unforgiven
Book #3 Blacklisted - October