FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Random House LLC (via NetGalley).
Series: Worth the Fight #4
Publisher: Loveswept on August 18, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (Adult)
Growing up an Army brat, Violet Channing could never meet her dad’s high expectations. But in the eyes of her best friend, she could do no wrong. He even insisted that he should be her first kiss. Now Cain Sorensen is all grown up, hardened by years in special ops and always looking for a good fight. Tall, with striking blue eyes and impossibly blond hair, he’s a modern-day Viking warrior. Of course, Violet’s all grown up, too, and she’s ready to surrender to his every command.
Cain knows he’s bad for Violet. His work is dangerous, and his hobbies are downright deadly. As a private mercenary and a mixed martial arts fighter, he could never let such an innocent soul into his world. And yet his most grueling combat training is no match for Violet’s killer curves, hot touch, and suggestive glances. Now all of Cain’s most explosive fantasies are coming true—but once they cross the line between friends and lovers, there’s no turning back.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Meh. It seems like the cover designer has finally landed on a design theme, as this one has the same black and white thing going that the previous book in the series did — and certainly a big improvement in the title font when compared to the first book. But (and I’m guessing most readers won’t have the same issue) I’m kinda tired of Mr. Icy Blue Eyes. He’s been floating around in the stock image world for at least a few years now, and he’s on a lot of romance covers. I’m also one of the 0.0008% of women in the world who don’t find him attractive, so that’s probably part of my issue. Not that it has anything to really do with what’s between the covers…
Well, Sidney Halston has done it again, delivering a solid and emotional story in Laid Out. If I weren’t so in love with the beginning of Against the Cage, this one would probably be my new favorite. But while the first book began with an inadvertent nut punch, Laid Out has a more serious side.
Violet, Cain, and Jeremy had once been practically inseparable. But when Jeremy and Cain enlisted and were shipped off to the Middle East, things began to change. Cain blew off that first kiss he’d given Violet the day he was leaving, and Jeremy pursued her wholeheartedly. They grew up as time went by, became engaged, and were planning a future together. But then tragedy struck, leaving both Violet and Cain to grieve someone they never thought they’d have to live without. Enough time has gone by that the grief isn’t fresh, but it’s still just as deep. And now, there’s an added sense of loyalty keeping Cain from acting on the feelings he’s harbored for Violet for years, and the stand-offish way that Cain’s acting has Violet questioning their friendship. However, Violet isn’t living in the past, and she’s ready to move forward with her life, but successfully navigating the dating world is proving to be a challenge. She asks Cain to help her with that, to basically teach her how to seduce a man, and that’s when things start to get interesting.
Even before it was spelled out for readers, it was pretty clear that Cain had stepped aside for Jeremy and that he had never really gotten over his feelings for Violet. Their years of friendship, common ground regarding their fathers’ cold approach to parenting, and their loss of Jeremy pretty much guaranteed they’d be spending more time together once they had a chance to reconnect. Happenstance has them living in the same town again, but it’s Cain’s masochistic agreement to more or less tutor Violet that gives them a fighting chance.
Violet is rather easy to like in her loyalty to Cain, despite his sometimes less than friendly attitude, and even for the way she’s grown since losing Jeremy. Yes, she truly loved him and would have gladly spent the rest of her life with him, and the story didn’t take that annoying excuse for a turn where she suddenly realized Jeremy had been all wrong for her. It seemed like the proper way to handle a deceased love interest, not skewering him with some revealed secret or turning him into some mediocre guy in memories. But as you can surely imagine, Violet and Cain coming together meant clearing some emotional hurdles, since there’s no handbook for how to forge ahead with your dead best friend’s girl. Oh, and it definitely helped from a reader’s perspective that Violet was no Skinny Minnie, instead being a little on the plus-size side of things, but only in a way that made her curvier, not ridiculously self-conscious or ashamed.
Cain was a little more difficult for me to connect to, simply because he was so guarded with everything, hiding his feelings and giving one-word answers when talking to Violet. But he was hot as hell, and his feelings for her were clearly genuine and deep. Surprisingly, he managed to keep from taking Violet straight to bed, and when given the chance to make something more out of their friendship, he really didn’t hesitate despite his conflicted emotions.
I think it’s safe to say that Laid Out is probably the most emotional book in this series yet, dealing with old friendships, devastating loss, redefining the future, and all the issues that come from having gone to war. If you’d told me after reading Against the Cage that there’d be a story like this one in the series, I probably wouldn’t have believed it, but Sidney Halston’s characters aren’t slightly modified versions of each other, and each story and couple has proven to be quite a bit different than the ones who’ve come before them. I’m still loving this series, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next piece of it!