Otherwise Unharmed (Evan Arden)
*spoiler alert* While I pretty much wrote this review “in code” (no outright spoilers below) I still feel the need to have anyone who hasn’t read the earlier installments in the series to avoid this review. Instead, I suggest you consult the Evan Arden Series Reading Order (yes they MUST be read in order as this story is a progression in his “bad-guy” life, and this book is the conclusion to the series), and maybe read the review of book #1 (Otherwise Alone). As a whole? A GREAT GREAT series. I LOVED it!
What a great conclusion to the series!!! We get Evan in all of his angst, torment and bad-assedness in full force, plus that touch of romance to keep us swooning. Okay wait. Not so much swooning. Evan is not exactly a swoon-inducer. At least not on purpose.
“It’s all right,” she whispered. “You’re going to be okay.”
I took another long, shuddering breath and seemed to melt further against her.
“Now I am.”
He’s got a dirty mind, and a dirty mouth, but there’s just something about him that has me wanting to cuddle. And he wants to cuddle, too.
Maryse’s Book Blog: Awwwww! I *heart* poor, sweet, totally bad-ass, tortured Evan soooooo much. Still reading, and loving. He’s exactly my type of hero. The reluctant kind.
Erin: Isn’t he so good. There are so many layers to that man!! I *heart* him too!!
Lori: exactly! Love him Maryse!
Jody: I’m loving it!!!!!!
Maryse’s Book Blog: I finished!!!! So good!!
Sally: Yipppppeee I LOVE EVAN ARDEN! I knew you would love it too Maryse!
He’s your perfect ultimate hero, that survived against all odds, sacrificing himself over and over again… only to be ruined for the last time. And I mean RUINED.
“… kept telling me how lucky I was that I was otherwise unharmed.
I laughed humorlessly.
“That’s a good one, huh? Otherwise unharmed.”
Leading him to becoming the perfectly bad “bad guy” he has become. Using his ultimate talent for the mafia.
“That’s when I figured it out,” I said quietly. “People live and they die, and it doesn’t f%$king matter to anyone around them. Whatever happens, happens. People move on and they’re probably better off because of it.”
“That’s what changed you,” he whispered.
No qualms, no remorse. But despite his criminal affiliations and deviations, there’re two thing that he keeps. His integrity/self-respect (even if some of us might and DO cringe at what he’s willing to do to get the “job done”). And his heart. Nobody gets that. Not because he purposely keeps it from anyone. There’s just never been anyone to love. After all, it’s not something he’s ever been told before (even as a child). It’s not something he knows.
But there is one thing he gives selectively, yet wholeheartedly. His loyalty. And he has no qualms taking you out, if you don’t return the favor. Betray him, no matter how “close” you were, and it’s over.
That’s not to say, however, that Evan doesn’t suffer the consequences of that loss. Of that pain, heartache. Of those memories that constantly torment him. That keep building up, one after the next, after the next until he just… loses it. And you don’t want an utterly lost Evan behind the only thing that he truly loves. That is a complete extension of him. His sniper rifle. Eeeeeeeeeep!!!
Ohhhh and how lost he is. Which leads us to this book.
I was absolutely SHOCKED and devastated at the end of Otherwise Occupied. I was SO connected, so… hopeful. And then it ended on that cliffhanger. On that note. GAH!!!!!
But this one answers everything. Brings us around full circle and I loved that I finally understood it all. Connected the dots, and I came to grips with much of what killed me as well as what… could possibly save him.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t like what happened towards the end of book #2 (I don’t think anyone did). But for me, I was so attached to where he was headed. So in tune with it. So hopeful. I was her. Sure, she was not who I wanted to be at first (considering who I thought this book was going to be about), but she became my new focus, and I loved that romantic angst amongst his bad-ass ways. His no-nonsense lifestyle, his uncompromising demeanor that suddenly… was bending. I was right there with her… over him. I loved this new direction!
It took me awhile, mind you, but there was a sweet, sad intensity there. So while I was hoping #1 was going to smoothly move into #2, and I was jarred out of that realization… I almost liked where #2 went even more.
And then #3 (this one)? It switched up yet again, and I needed to “suck it up”. But THAT wasn’t hard for me. It was needed, and it was a relief, and luckily, it was familiar. Evan was in it DEEP, and I had NO idea how he could possibly make it out of that mess that he made, in his real life. And the mess that real life made in his mind. But there was that one thing… that one person that could bring him back.
“You gave me my sanity back,” I said quietly. “Your presence, your words, your touch, and your body – they brought me back from someplace I don’t even want to be again. The way I feel when I’m with you – like I could spend the rest of my life just looking in your eyes – it scares the sh!t out of me. It’s more terrifying than that place I was inside my head.”
And I was delighted to take the journey with them!
So what’s it about?
Evan is offered an opportunity to rid himself of his prison potential by making a deal with an FBI agent. He gives up something THEY need, and he goes free. A deal is struck, but of course, the deal requires an ever-loyal Evan to betray. The one thing he abhors the most.
Betrayal runs deep in his life, and this book offers no relief in that sense. Evan almost seems to get into deeper trouble. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. And this book will lead you through all of that “crazy”. I’ll let you experience it for yourselves.
I was happy. It wasn’t a feeling I was used to experiencing.
Complacency is a bad thing.
Yep. It gets crazy!
And… I really liked it!
But I’m going to admit, for some crazy reason, and I don’t know if it’s just me, I almost seemed more into book #2, and the “crazy” that went on in that one, than in this one. Maybe it’s ’cause of the shock value. Maybe it’s cause of the unrequited love issues that I love so much. Angst exists in Evans world… just not like we normally get to experience it. And book #2 was the closest to what I love to feel, experience, hope for and heartache over, when I’m reading. And so because of that, this one was…
4 stars for me.
GREAT writing, and an amazing, exciting, scary-crazy story of a lost reluctant hero turned hit man, looking to redeem himself. Er… Wait. That’s not right. Maybe not looking to “redeem himself” as Evan doesn’t mind what he does in the least. He’s the ultimate no-nonsense, detached bad-guy after all. As much as he could care less about life (especially his) there’s a part of him that wants so much to feel better. LOL! Ahhhhh it’s hard to describe, my friends. This bad-ass couldn’t care less, and yet, there’s a part of him that cares SO much. He just needs to be saved. Won’t you help him?
*avoid this next part if you haven’t read this book yet*
But of course, I’m really team “whoever is best for Evan” so… you know. *shrug*
But if we’re talking “reading experience”, I felt a bit more (throughout) with book #2, than with this conclusion. In fact, I felt a certain disconnect from Lia in this one. I didn’t feel them as much as I did in #1. And as much as I did in #2 (with another “them“).
And yet I GET why. And I get her. Who the heck can deal with a guy like Evan and his way of life?
“Does she know?” Trent’s voice dropped down low. “Does she know about your escapades? I bet she’d like to know.”
I continued to glare at him, but inside, my mind was racing. I couldn’t let her find out about me – not like that.
I get you Lia. *sigh* I dunno.
“Jesus,” she muttered, “I don’t know how I’m going to deal with this.”
I much enjoyed it, for what it was, mind you. It’s just, my heart wasn’t as engaged. No biggie. These are not “romance” novels after all. They have an important love story, of course (which I why I was so into them in the first place), but these are mostly about a hero (albeit reluctant) that becomes an anti-hero. A bad guy. And maybe finds redemption, healing and love in the end.
Does he? I dunno. My lips are sealed. You’ll have to read and find out how it goes for him. Once a killer, always a killer?
P.S. All I can say is… what an ending!!!
P.P.S. And now I need an unmistakably intense romance read! Off I go to start it.
P.P.P.S: Thanks to Mari for sending me a link to this picture of the author’s actual “Evan” model. *blush*