Roxanne “Roxy” Ark has been in love with Reece Anders for years without acting on it, but when she faces a number of threats, Reece compels her to acknowledge her danger and their attraction.
Roxy was in high school when the Anderses moved in next door, and she crushed on Reece immediately. Soon after, Roxy’s world turned upside down when she was involved in a tragic incident she still feels responsible for and which left her gay best friend, Charlie, barely alive. After graduation, Reece went into the Marines and came back wounded, and as he healed, their relationship changed, settling them into a holding pattern as friends, despite the fact that they are clearly attracted to each other. When Reece tries to force the issue, Roxy allows a rift to form between them, since she's determined to keep almost everyone at an emotional distance, believing she doesn’t deserve happiness. Roxy is 26, and Reece wants her to overcome her misplaced guilt and live a full life, pursuing her artistic talent and giving up an unfulfilling academic path. Around the time Charlie’s assailant is released from prison, it becomes apparent that someone is stalking Roxy, and Reece won't let her navigate the dangers on her own. His forced proximity leads to sexual intimacy, but Roxy refuses to admit to an emotional connection. Meanwhile, the threat closes in, leading to a dangerous confrontation. Armentrout’s latest has a lot going on and is in many ways emotionally satisfying. The first quarter of the book has a confusing timeline, however, and many of Roxy’s choices come across as immature, while her decision to blame things moving around in her house on a ghost (as everyone around her—including now-cop Reece—is warning her of a possible serial rapist) is dubious. Still, the romance is sexy and conflicted, and the suspense is interesting if not enthralling.
Not perfect but escapist and engaging.