I didn't see you there.
For some reason, and thought process of which still eludes me, I had the urge to check this after neglecting it into obscurity.
And what do you know?
I have FOLLOWERS!
Thanks to Entangled Publishing for the Advanced Reader copy.
He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her.
Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.
Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.
But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.
I’ve been racking my brains trying to come up with a coherent review for this book since I finished it last week. It had taken me this long to get my thoughts together, and even then all I can say is Wow!
This is not your typical love story. Or a typical novel in any sense of the word. It’s full of murder, intrigue, lust and love...and that’s not even the best part.
No, the best part, Ladies and Gentleman, are the characters.
I’m a fan of broken characters. I just adore them, there is so much to delve through, and even when they’re at their lowest ebb, you still root for them, even if you don’t condone their actions.
Archer is a serial killer. As simple as that.
Except that it’s not.
You can sympathise with Archer, you feel his pain and as you learn more about his childhood and his motivations, you begin to realise how he can justify such drastic actions, and understand his cause.
This book is extremely clever. Kelley York is a phenomenal writer, as even when you’re engrossed in the story, hurriedly flipping page after page to find out what will happen next, you also start to think.
What struck me is how far people are willing to go to protect the one they love, and what they are capable of doing, without hesitation.
But Archer is not like Dexter (although comparisons can be made. A vigilante who punishes the evil? C'mon you know that's going to be interesting. He’s like a teen Dexter, but relatable). Archer feels. He does not enjoy what he does, but sees it as a necessity.
Which brings me on to Vivian.
Like I’ve already said, each character in this book is broken. Even Evan, who we see a notable change in as the book moves on, doing things he does not believe in for the man he loves.
They’re so adorable, by the way. Just thought I’d throw that in there as a nice little side note.
But Vivian is a great character. Vivian is chaotic, and wild, like a lightning storm. She destroys things, she is capable of irrevocable damage, but she is beautiful. On the outside.
Another lesson: Never trust a pretty girl with an ugly secret.
But you can still understand her....These characters are so intricate, it’s amazing
But Vivian is chaos to Archer, who is himself filled with chaos. He needs stability, which Evan provides. Evan is the calm to Archer’s chaos, and they just...fit.
I got so caught up in her tale, as well as that of our two broken boys, that I was finished the book before I knew it and was yearning for more.
If you think this book isn’t for you because two boys fall in love...all I can say is Love is love. And Archer and Evan are so sweet to one another that you can’t help but fall in love with them. I would hold off any and all reservations you have about this book, from plot to characterisation, because it’s fantastic in every way shape and form.
Kelley York is a phenomenal writer, and although the subject matter is quite dark, I urge everyone who loves a good romance and intrigue novel, and loves broken and well-developed characters to give this book a read.
The ending still has me in shock.
And, if you know me, that’s not easily done.
What a twist!
I’m looking forward to Kelley York’s next book. It’s sure to have as many beautiful similes and characters as this wonderful debut.
I highly recommend it.
The night breathed with blood and venom. Darcy and Dexter scrambled from the ground, collecting glass, blood and grazes, and searched for shelter.
“Move it!” Dexter yelled, glancing left and right looking for somewhere to hide as the sound of scratching grew louder, the claws tearing the ground apart. Dexter kept his hand glued to his sword, like Darcy did hers. Her nose twitched and face contorted once they paused to catch their breath.
“What’s wrong?” he watched Darcy as she doubled over panting. “Leg,” she breathed. A shard of glass had lodged itself in her thigh, and the pain was beginning to get to her.
Dexter cursed. “Here,” he looped Darcy’s arm around his shoulders, but as she protested, he hissed, swept her legs from underneath her, and cradled her in his arms as he ran. The sound of scratching grew louder. Other delegates raced into alleys and houses, hiding from the rats, which were approximately the size of a small car, and vicious to boot.
“Over there,” Darcy elbowed Dexter in the rib softly with her right arm, inclining her head toward the closest house. “We can patch up, get ready and run.”
He looked unsure, but they didn’t have much choice, so darting a quick glance over his shoulder to see if they were being followed by a rat or delegate. Either way, it wouldn’t be good.
Dexter padded over, dropped Darcy gently on the ground, and propped open the door with his left shoulder. After three failed attempts, and an obligatory mental scolding, Darcy finally got up and limped through the door.
“Here,” Dexter took her arm again, acting as her walking aid, but the pain and the closeness made her uncomfortable. “I’m fine.” She said, followed by three steps and a re-acquaintance with the floor.
The house was pretty empty, but it being Riverside, each building had a first aid kit attached to the wall and some supplies. Just in case. Dexter grabbed the box, came back and fell to the floor on his knees.
“You’re not fine.” He said simply, looking for some cloth, and not seeing any. A second later, he whipped his shirt off, placed it between his teeth and ripped some strips free. They were uneven and broken, but Dexter looped two strands together, tied them tightly and rolled up her trousers. He didn’t wince, didn’t say a thing, but the look in his eyes said that it wasn’t good.
“I’m gonna pull it out on three, okay?”
Darcy drew a breath and Dexter said “three.”
It was like an electric pulse racked through her body. She didn’t scream, but damn, did she feel like it. Darcy stuffed her fist in her mouth, and Dexter tied his make-shift tourniquet tighter.
“There,” he said. “the bleeding’s stopped.”
“Good.” She breathed; learning to control her pain like Jack had taught her. Training was nothing like the real thing. In the centre, you get shot with an arrow, you heal. In Riverside, you get shot, you bleed. Or you die.
Not great options all round.
Darcy met Dexter’s eyes. “Thank you.” She murmured, but she trailed off as the spark of something ignited in his eyes.
“You okay?” he asked.
“I’ll live.” She tried to sit up, but that flare of pain stopped her. Dexter arched an eyebrow, and, hesitantly, as though he wasn’t sure what he was doing himself, leaned down and kissed her wounded leg.
It was like ice had formed in her veins. Unmoving, she asked “What are you doing?”
Dexter leaned close into her ear, his words caressing her skin and making her tingle “I’m kissing it better.”
With that, he stooped down and kissed just a little bit higher than he had before, right in the centre of her thigh. Darcy felt herself begin to tingle, as his trail of kisses flowed up from her thigh to her outstretched hand. His eyes flickered up as he kissed her knuckles languorously before moving to the crook of her elbow, lingering ever so slightly more. The heat of her skin and his kisses was spurring them both on. Darcy’s breath hitched, and she heard Dexter laugh while he pressed his soft, searing lips against her bare shoulder, finally resting in the hallow of her neck. He must have been able to feel her pulse, hear her heart beat stutter. The room was filled with echoes, the sound of her panting reverberating in her ears. When Dexter’s tongue flicked out against her neck, she lost it. Thrusting into his form and pulling him fully on top of her, Darcy felt his breath hitch in his chest and saw the a smile grow on his usually stone-cold serious face. Before he knew what was happening, she flipped the position and was staring down at Dexter’s burning brown eyes, his slight scar from temple to cheek, his waiting, wanting lips...
And the chain around his neck.
The chain with her sister’s favourite ring looped around it. Darcy froze, her heart beating harder than ever and shame spiralling in her stomach. The loss of blood had made her nauseas, but that made her sick.
“We better go.” She said
The light in his eyes quenched like a match in a rain-storm. Darcy helped herself up, offered Dexter a hand, which he refused to take. He went to the closest supply closet, grabbed a shirt and said “I’m ready when you are.”
Darcy looked around, saw the coast was clear and they made their way back to headquarters.
So, when you catch your boyfriend mounting another girl at a party, three things come to mind.
One: You want to punch him squarely in the jaw, and keep going until you hear a crack.
Two: You want to break down and cry.
Three: You want to scream bloody murder until everyone sees what a lying scumbag he is.
I chose the secret fourth option.
“Abby,” he bounced from the bed like it was a trampoline, adjusted his zip and fixed his hair. Marcy just sat where she was, didn’t meet my eyes, and fiddled with her t-shirt.
“We’re done.” It was simple, short and succinct. I closed the door behind me, took the stairs two at a time and wanted to get the hell out of there so I could start with option two.
The night had a crisp, bitter feel to it; cutting my skin like tiny needles of ice as I raced down the road, trying not to slip on the slick patches of path. I didn’t care why he had done it—I didn’t even care who he had done it with—but the fact that he had dared to think he could get away with it?
That bugged me.
Tears were threatening to escape from their prison, and I held them in like cold steel bars, picking up my pace. But when I realised it was 2.30 in the morning, I was alone and in a bad area of town, I started to think that maybe I hadn’t been that smart after all.
“Abby!” I whipped my head around and found Max, Marcy’s older brother, chasing me down the street, before he lost his footing on the glistening gravel.
“Max!” I ran to him, but he was already picked himself up and stuffed his hands into his pockets, embarrassed.
“Why’d you leave?”
Did I really want to tell him that his little sister, and my one-time best friend, was testing the springs in his new bed?
“I had to get out of there, and I want to be alone. Mind making both of those dreams come true?” I snapped. If I cried in front of him, I’d never hear the end of it.
Max jerked a hand through his hair and seemed to be arguing with himself. Finally he settled on “It’s late. I’ll drive you home.”
Apparently he wasn’t catching the hint.
“I’ll walk, thanks.” Before he knew what was happening, I feigned right and darted into a nearby alley, hoping to loop around to the better lit side of the street.
“Abby! You can’t...” I was faster than Max. And he knew it, but when I came to a dead end, I heard him finish lamely “go that way.”
Growing more frustrated by the minute, from my anger, my resentment and the fact that I was freezing my follicles off, I stopped, jogged in place and started to clench my jaw.
“What happened?” Max said once he’d reached me. I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted him to leave me alone. So I hit him.
Again. And again, and again, until my knuckles were sore, his t-shirt was rumpled and he pulled me into his strong arms. Everything just dissolved from there and a salty-sea fell from my eyes and onto his white shirt.
“It’s okay,” he said, hushing into my hair, his breath warming what I thought would be forever frozen. I looked up at him, his messy blonde hair, his earnest green eyes and that crooked smile he always had for me...and I just jumped on him.
My legs wrapped around his waist, and he instinctively wrapped his arms around me. His right hand rested on the small of my back, while his left trailed a lightning storm up my spine, before resting on the nape of my neck, burning me beautifully. I leaned my forehead against his and felt his chest rise and fall against mine. His hand was in my hair, mine were around his neck, and we just kind of....fit. I tilted my head to the right and so did he, inches apart, centimetres, millimetres...I could feel his breath mingling with mine, the scent of peppermint and chocolate catching in my throat...
And then he cocked his head further right and sweetly swept up a solitary tear with his lips, before trailing its path with his thumb, his eyes lingering on mine, and setting me back down to earth softly.
“I’ll walk you back.” He said.
Twice I had been stunned tonight, and when he held out his hand for me to take, I did. It felt warm and secure. But I pulled it away in anger, two seconds later. I was sick of being out of the loop. I wanted answers.
“Why did you stop?!” I yelled.
“Because,” he said simple, not rising to my anger, not stooping to my level. “I don’t want this to be revenge. I saw Marcy and Luke come downstairs after you left. I know what happened. But I don’t want to take advantage of you, because I want this, us, to be something memorable. I want it to be a Hollywood moment.”
Stunned, I couldn’t help but stare at Max. “But...you’re Max?”
“Didn’t stop you before, did it?” he smirked. He held out his hand, and this time I took it without letting go while he guided me to back to his house and car.
“How do I look?” I asked, self consciously smoothing down my hair. Max laughed.
“You look like a mess.” As I made an indignant sound, he continued “but a beautiful one.”
Birds tweeted, music blared, but all I could hear was the blood rushing in my ears and felt the heat rising up my neck.
“Now,” he opened the passenger door and gestured for me to sit in. I stopped at the door, kissed him on the cheek and thanked him. He smiled. “What are you doing tomorrow?”
Nothing, I told him.
“How about coffee?”
Yup, That's it! :)
I may put something up from my WIP.
Hopefully it's a lot hotter!
Peace, love and Lollipops!