Crossing the Line (Battered Hearts – book #3) - Quick note! While these can probably be read as standalones (and understood well enough as the author backtracks), they are best read in order for maximum impact. You get the “best friends/family feel”, and important new characters are introduced, as the series progresses. And anyway. Like I know many of you, you’ll go CRAZY for book #1 (MMA fighter “Clay” rocked my world), so I highly recommend it!!
I fell in love with the series with the first installment (Defying the Odds). Comprised of MMA champions (they pretty much all are!!)… we start off with my favorite kind of sexy “bad boy”. The reluctant hero. Clay’s moody, reclusive, bad-ass, reluctantly-big-hearted sweetness was just MADE for me!!!). And I loved the whole “small town” feel. Clay’s entourage (comprised of his best friends growing up), the town “Garnet” that he calls home, and all of those that know and care for him despite his “stand-offish” stance, absolutely stole my heart.
And as the series progressed into book #2, we got to know their entourage more and more. But there was something missing. Their past.
Don’t get me wrong. We knew, and got to somewhat experience the reason for their closeness, from little tidbits, reflections and the characters recounting memories. We knew how this infamous MMA champion-creating gym came to be, we had a good idea why Clay was the no-nonsense introvert of the group, and we knew that there was something deeply sad about “Wyatt”. His best friend, (once also a part of the MMA circuit, turned town Sheriff) and now, Clay’s trainer. Level-headed, cocky but fair. As strong and hulking as Clay, he’s everything we traditionally love in our heroes. But while those around him were finally finding true love… Wyatt’s heart was so obviously somewhere else.
I knew his book was coming, and I knew we’d finally get to experience Wyatt in all of his eventual romantic glory (after all, our romance novels leave nobody behind).
But one thing I wished for… now that I already felt so close to them all, was the experience of their original bond. The thing, that feel, their past that made these characters so close. What they knew, what they saw, what they experienced that made each of them so protective of each other. Because there is no denying that each character in this series are so closely linked. I felt like one of their “new friends” that was so intricately merged into their lives today, but had that slight “envious” feel that I didn’t get to grow up with them. Experience their ‘firsts” with them.
But this book (Wyatt’s book) surprised me.
Because much of Wyatt’s story (and Tabitha’s) begins when they were children. We could never understand why he is so hung up on someone that just… left him the way she did, without experiencing their background, with them. Not just telling us, but actually allowing us to re-live their past with them, understand and feel each moment that secured their “forever-connection”. And not just that of Wyatt and Tabitha. But that of Wyatt and Clay, and Wyatt’s sister, Jules. And that of their enemies (that continue to torment them, today). Wyatt and Tabitha’s connection started off feeling “soul-deep”. But secrets change everything.
She could always tell him the truth, which was the best explanation of them all, but she wouldn’t risk that. Keeping that secret from Wyatt was the reason she’d left.
And you know what? At first, I had no clue we were going to do that (go back in time), reading this. I’ve been known to be one of those that groans a bit when we “flashback” to the past, in the middle of my love for the story’s “present”. I get all wrapped up in their “today life” excited for the growth and romantic potential, knowing there’s angst coming my way. And then *poof* suddenly I’m in the past. Whether it be a memory, or a different aspect of how the story is being narrated, I’m suddenly jolted out of my comfortable reading rhythm and having to re-establish my connection. I might even *squinch* up my nose and grumble under my breath, despite already knowing that the “past” will help me connect even more to the “present”. But I don’t always feel like going back, you know?
But of it’s it done right, it never fails. I get just as involved in the “past story” as I do with how their lives are progressing today, and often… I’m even more connected to them as a whole.
And that’s what happened here. And let me tell you. Not only did Kele Moon do it right, she gave me the ultimate “book series-that-now-feels-like-family” gift. I am 100% privy to everything about “Garnet” and the characters I love so much. In fact, despite this book being about “Wyatt” (and his past love interest, Tabitha)… I got to know (and love) my #1 Garnet man, “Clay” even more. In extreme depth. I get him, and I can only love him that much more knowing what he came from and who he is now. I couldn’t help but *squee* about it in a chat, as I read it.
Maryse: Now I wanna say, Wyatt as a kid is the sweeeeeeeetest thing. Him pushing “best buddies” on grumpy Clay is killing me with love! I adore these two, you don’t even understand.
I love this look back to them growing up. I felt like I was missing out before and now I’m getting it in amazing detail. It actually makes me want to read Clay’s book again. He’s so true to his character still, it makes me think these guys are real. I’m right back to how I felt when I read #1
Wow. These characters have BLOWN me away. Because as “perfect” of a hero as Wyatt seems to be, we learn there’s much more to him. Sure… he’s gorgeous, stable, from a GREAT family with an amazing upbringing, and from a long line of town Sheriffs with all of those great big morals in place. The perfect patient, loving, fair, funny!!! strong (as strong as Clay) hero… but we soon find out Wyatt has an extreme dark side. He IS the ultimate fighter, the ultimate protector (even to his detriment). And we soon find out that even bad-ass Clay fears for him, and those he’s after, once Wyatt goes “dark”. He doesn’t always play by the rules, no matter what his upbringing dictates.
“You think he’s scary when he’s mad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
I loved it, you guys!!! L-O-V-E-D!!!!! In fact, I’d say this is the best book of the three, so far, and if it wasn’t for my HUGE love for Clay in book #1, I’d even say this one was my favorite. You know what? I’m gonna say it. Considering we get SO much Clay in this book too, this was my favorite!!!
Maryse: I love Clay. I mean I love Wyatt of course, I’m still getting to know him, but there’s a reason I went nuts for Clay… He’s my perfect reluctant hero.
It’s hilarious, sad, sweet, and intense. Nothing feels rushed… in fact this “look-back” made me that much more connected to each of them. Not just this in this one… but remembering the first two books, I was right back there again. I was feeling every single moment, and reading with it showing on my face. It’s just… fantastic!
So what’s it about?
And the ultimate “best friends” story.
He was looking at Wyatt like he’d grown two heads “I hate you.”
“Naw, we’re best buddies,” Wyatt reminded him. “We’re supposed to help each other out and tell each other things. I told you a secret. Tell me one.”
“You ain’t exactly easy to be best buddies with, Powers.”
“That’s ’cause I ain’t your buddy.”
“Sure you are,” Wyatt said confidently.
AND The ULTIMATE in the “best friends that fall in love” love story.
That undeniable and true (and truly… it is undeniable) insta-love. Wait!!! wait!! wait, “insta-love” cynics…. I think you’ll love this one. Ya just can’t fault a 6 year old boy for falling madly in love with a teeny tiny girl that has hair that sparkles in the sun. He’s mesmerized by her red hair and freckles.
“I’ve loved you since kindergarten. I saw that bright red hair across the room and I thought, ‘someday I’m gonna marry that girl.”
Tabitha rolled her eyes as they walked out the front of the store.
“You wanna go make out in my truck for ten minutes?”
He’s been fixated on her forever, and it’s not until he’s about 8 years old that he finally approaches her. With cookies. But first… he’s gotta deal with that darn “delinquent” Clay, that just won’t leave her side.
… all thing considered, Tabitha thought Clay was pretty darn nice. He wasn’t cruel like Brett or his friend Vaughn, who’d beat her every day for the cookies Wyatt had been giving her if they found out about it. Mean was the wrong word for Clay; he was just shy in a growly sort of way.
Wyatt was out to win her heart (no matter their different backgrounds), but he’s gotta get through Clay, first, and Clay pretty much hates Wyatt and all that Wyatt (and his family) stand for. Clay and Tabitha both have had similar and very rough upbringings (they’re both from the “wrong” side of town), and have already bonded. But she shares Wyatt’s cookies (and tries to share his friendship) with Clay. Clay and Tabitha are both fiercely protective of each other. Wyatt & Clay are gonna have to learn to share, too. But there were some hard lessons learned before they get there.
… she had unwaveringly believed in real-life heroes with every fiber of her being until the moment she saw Wyatt Conner slam Clay’s head against the cement hard enough to make a sickening thud.
All boys turned mean eventually.
This is the start of their story, but certainly not the end.
We live with them as children, as teens… and as adults. And that terrible thing that broke Wyatt in his past, comes back to him, today. Well… not necessarily to him. But he sees her, and it all comes rushing back to him when she (now a famous author) comes back to her hometown to tend to her sick mother. And despite all of her personal success as an adult, her crushing past comes rushing back to her, the moment she steps back into her mother’s house. The bad memories haunting her. And I’m going to let you re-live it with them, yourself. But mostly through her eyes.
This was truly unbelievable, and Tabitha found herself saying a prayer, out loud, just to make sure any celestial being in the near vicinity heard her, because the situation was that desperate.
“Please don’t let it be him,” she whispered frantically, her voice hoarse from throwing up.
“Please, please, please. Anyone but him. If there is a God, you will not do this to me.”
Oh yes… I felt her desperation in that very early moment in the book. She’d already been through hell that day. But the worst to her (or best, to me ) was yet to come.
The sound of boots squishing in mud and grass had her silently wishing for the arty to open up and just swallow her whole.
Tabitha stiffened when she heard the low, stunned voice of Wyatt Conner, the man who was impossible to get over.
It was official – there as no God.
And with my own personal devilish glee… I realize HE was the one she didn’t want to see, and yet there he was. My heart skipped a beat ’cause I knew the angst had ALREADY started!!!
What was UP with these two? I was about to find out.
AND I WAS HOOOOOOKED!!!! Who knew that the “love story” that begins with the sweetest innocent children, and the “best friends” story of these same children could addict me the way this one did? I GOT it!!! I got to grow up with them. Hurt with them. Tremble in fear with them. Scream with them. Cry with them. Delight in life, with them.
But you know something had to go awry for one of them… no. Make that TWO of them, to be hurting so badly today. And this is their story.
WOW. I will NEVER forget it. And I will cherish every book that is coming, as, even the “newcomers” to their world have my heart. After all, I am a newcomer to their group, too. But I love them as if I was their own.
4.5 stars!!! Maybe even 5 stars (but I struggled just a touch with er… ummm… only ONE thing. How do I say it without giving anything away? Let’s just say that there is a part that was a bit less than “tight” in my eyes considering the circumstances and… stuff. I wasn’t as convinced. But whatever. I loved it anyway! LOL!!!!
“Do you know what a vigilante is?”
Wyatt’s eyes were closed. His head was resting on her knee. His hands were tapping rhythmically against his bare chest as he lay sprawled on the mat in the middle of the rec center’s boxing ring.
“Mmm,” Tabitha agreed as she stroked his sweaty face. “You wanna know what I think?”
Wyatt smiled. “I love knowing what you think.”
“I think you’re one,” she mused thoughtfully.
Wyatt blinked up at her
Yeah, I think you beat up the bad guys in your spare time.”
“Then who’s my sidekick?”
“You know who he is.”
Wyatt flattened his hand against his chest and laughed. “If you call Clay Robin, he will lose his shi!t.”
Tee hee!!! Oh yes he totally would!!! And yet…
P.S. sorta “newbie” to the group —> NOVA!!! *sigh* he is EXACTLY up our alley (of the bad-ass uber-smart mob boss kind)!!! Wow. A series with MMA fighters, and Mob bosses. Could anything be made more for us?? And the plus? It’s got that super consistent tight-knit feel. When you get back to these character’s… you feel as if you’re already home. There is no real need to “re-establish” yourself, no feeling of disorientation. You’re there. That is how consistent (personality and feel-wise) that the characters in this series are.
P.P.S. Thank you so much to the author for sending me a review copy!!!!! I’m not kidding Kele. This one delighted me! Plus, you gave me SO much more Clay… I could just HUG you so hard!!!!!!