After a decade of birthday hookups, a man and woman whose magical love was destroyed by their warring families face their pasts and rediscover one another. First in a series.
When tragedy and betrayal ripped apart their families, Nicholas Chandler and Livvy Kane’s romance was collateral damage. Nicholas stayed in New York to run the family business while Livvy fled, living a nomadic lifestyle as a tattoo artist. Unable to completely sever their physical connection, they continued to meet once a year for a night of passion in what Livvy calls a “repetitive cycle of pain and desire.” But when Livvy returns home to care for her ailing mother, neither disapproving relatives nor the pain of reopening old wounds can keep them away from each other. Rai (Night Whispers, 2013, etc.) approaches her characters with sharpness and sensitivity, deftly establishing Nicholas and Livvy's deep connection in the opening pages. Nicholas' disciplined compartmentalization of his life requires shutting out feelings that would force him to reconsider his choices, while Livvy's tendency to collect unruly emotional baggage is literally written on her skin. Rai is at the forefront of a new wave of romance writers for whom themes of racial and ethnic identity, gender and sexuality, and mental health are not extras but integral to the romance plot because they are necessary for building characters and their worlds. Livvy’s experience of depression in particular is authentically portrayed: “Guilt and sadness and darkness were like a fine overlay on her entire life, a veil with the power to tarnish anything good that came her way.” A tremendously intriguing cast of secondary characters across three generations includes the couple's siblings, whose stories readers will clamor for. Without ever losing focus on Nicholas and Livvy, Rai shows how porous and mutable the lines between the past and the present, the personal and the familial, the body and the soul really are.
A sexy, emotionally intense romance wrapped in a fascinating family saga, this is the complete package: hot, heartbreaking, and supremely satisfying.