In Irwing’s (Sugar & Spice, 2019, etc.) series starter, two Australian rape victims find each other and, together, try to recover from the traumas and move beyond their pasts.
In the six months after the death of her terrible stepfather, Anna Walters-Simmons started to come out of her shell. She started going to a vocational school, gained a new friend named Yasmin Yusuf, and began dating a handsome man named Matt Preston. However, during a night out with Matt and his older brother, they drug and rape her; their father sexually assaults her, as well. It turns out that Anna’s stepbrother owes a significant amount of money to the Preston family—and the assault seems to be a form of payment. Later, a man named Rafael “Rafe” Luis Brown returns to Australia after years away, trying to recover from being a victim of sexual assault himself. Rafe and Anna eventually meet at a get-together of family members and friends, and he sees the same pain in her eyes that he sees in the mirror every day. They decide to help each other heal—and help each other get justice for the crimes against them. Overall, Irwing offers an incredibly dark, twisted tale of trauma and revenge. The book’s subtitle may initially lead some readers to think that they’re going to get a fun bad-boy romance, but instead, they’re provided multiple, graphic rape scenes. The author spares no details in these moments or in many others in the novel; indeed, Irwing has a tendency to describe every little nuance, which bogs the text down. The author does a very good job of making the villains seem truly loathsome. However, even the heroes are difficult to like due to their overdramatic manner and stilted dialogue. Still, there’s a truly deep and emotional story to be found here if readers are able to get past the most gruesome scenes.
An over-the-top but ultimately unforgettable novel of pain and justice.