Book Review – Otherwise Occupied by Shay Savage

by Maryse on July 28, 2013 · 9 comments

in My Book Reviews

Otherwise Occupied (Evan Arden series)
NOTE: must read this prequel first —>  Otherwise Alone (my review)

This is the series that had me going and going all weekend! Recommended by two of my trusty reading friends (Claudia & Joanna), it had so many of us exclaiming our love and re-living our Evan-induced panic attacks together.

But best of all? This book had my heart CRAMPING. Cramping I tell you. And I think because it wasn’t so obvious, (romance not being the main “theme” of the book) that it got me that much harder.

Maryse’s Book Blog: This is what I’m reading right now. I was totally in the mood for a brooding, sexy, no-nonsense bad ass, and Evan Arden (ex-marine/current mob boss hitman) is totally doing it for me!

Lori: It’s really good! Love her books!

Janell: Love, love, love it! I wish Shay Savage would put out a book a week! DYING for the next installment in the series!

Tracie: Soo good!! Book 2 was not what I expected at all.

Joanna: Oh, it was soooo good. NOT a traditional romance. Not even a little bit! In some ways not a romance at all, but just one truly amazing book…

Emma: Love, love this series

Claudia Flores I just can’t wait to read the next one….

Maryse’s Book Blog: Favorite quote so far: “I felt like the end of an A-Team episode when everything worked out, and the heroes all got to go home and live happily ever after while the bad guys were put in jail. Except, of course, I was the bad guy. Whatever.” love him! Why do I alwayyyyys love the bad guy? I love that I have no idea where this is going. And Bridgett. Very curious…

Emma: Oh.. just wait, Maryse-the quotes and direction get better and better “He flashed me a toothy, actor-practiced smile. It was probably known to drop panties or something, but I wore boxers.”

Janell: I felt the same way – I was 1/2 way through and STILL had no idea where it was going. Wasn’t sure who I should like or root for…. But couldn’t stop reading! I’m STILL not sure I know – and I finished it a few weeks ago! LOL

Kate: Loved it! I went on a week long Shay Savage reading binge after Surviving Raine !

Tracie: Just wait, you will be blown away. Lots of WTF moments. And the end… Just wow

Maryse’s Book Blog: I’m at a spot right now she all I can do is awwwwwww. Awwwwwwwww! Awwwwwwww! Oh I love when true bad-asses make me do that. My heart is actually cramping with my need to awwwwwwww. There is nothing sweet about this guy, and I swear my husband would love this book, but still. I am so connected.

Maryse’s Book Blog: Oh. Em. Gee. eek

Tracie: Did you finish?!?!?!

Maryse’s Book Blog: Yes it was aweeeesommmme!! She is an amazing writer!

Tracie N: 40% in…. I need a hug! Lol

Maryse’s Book Blog: U know… She’s now officially one of my favorite authors. Her guys are so intense, and no-nonsense, and so real. Her writing is exquisite, and so consistent.

Lori: I agree! I love her male POV. She’s an automatic buy for me

Joanna: I felt exactly the same way. Unreal.

Tracie: I have a huge crush in Shay Savage!! It started with Surviving Raine and the occupied series has only made it worse!!!

Georgia: Just finished otherwise alone and of course Maryse you were right. It was so good. Moving on to otherwise occupied.

Maryse’s Book Blog: 1st half good, 2nd half OMG AMAZING!!!!!!!

I had needs and this story knew just how to tease me. It hinted at and gave me glimpses of romance, but just slightly. The potential “romance angle” just wouldn’t commit to me, and with a bad-ass, hard-ass character like Evan, it just made me want it more.

But at some point, even if it wasn’t traditional romance, I was wholeheartedly and emotionally invested. And I relished whatever morsel of affection I could get. It snuck up on me and twisted my heart in the most delicious way, and then kicked me in the gut, knocking the wind right out of me.

Did I stay that way? Did it come back around again, for me? Am I elated? Or am I devastated? Shhhhhhh ;) I can’t say, other than OMG. What. A. Dark. Ride!!!!

Not “romance” per se. No. But it kind of totally is… just… in another way. It has “it’s way”. Or more like, Evan has his… way. You’ll feel it. Every offending character trait, every obnoxious thought (and some of the stuff he said. UGH!!!!!!! OMG!!!)

“Truth hurts, huh?” I said bluntly, and she flinched as a tear finally escaped from her dampened eyelashes.

… and every unexpected, no… unintended sweet moment, too.

 My body seemed to melt into her, and I thought for a brief moment that nothing else could feel this welcoming.

So what’s it about?

Evan Arden (the ultimate and super-skilled mob “hit man”) is back at work after his temporary 2 month exile in the Arizona desert. Memories from his POW tortured past continue to plague him, but he’s found a way to cope. By taking his skills and using them as a hardened, cold-hearted, ruthless killer. He’s… indifferent.

“Evan, no one comes out of something like that without some damage.”

“Not  a mark on me – they were really careful about that.”

“There are other kinds of scars.”

He’s trying to get back into his boss’s good graces, and he’s trying to do whatever he can to find the peace he once found in the arms of a beautiful woman from his past. One that he can’t get off of his mind. One that he’s so desperate to find again but he can’t.

Being a killer, well, that fact alone is hard for any potential “mate” to swallow, and simply put, his career will endanger anyone he loves (or cares about).

… the last thing she needed was for someone in a rival boss’ business getting the idea she was important to me.

So, he can never love. No love. No weakness. Problem solved.

Except that Evan is plagued with nightmares (about his torture, and about his incredible guilt over how things went down while serving in the Middle East)…

“You still blame yourself,” he observed.

“I f%cked up.”

“You were ambushed.”

“I was the one tasked with not letting that happen,” I said. “I was their officer. I was in charge. I f%cked up, and they died.”

“Do you expect yourself to be omnipotent?”


He can’t sleep and he’s slowly unravelling. His focus is off, his thoughts are scattered, and he’s making mistakes. Until he finds a temporary band-aid. A cute (and very sweet) prostitute that kind of “looks” like that woman from his past that haunts (or soothes) his dreams. He finds that he can sleep peacefully in her arms and his nightmares are kept temporarily at bay.

I was so off my game, I was going to f%ck up at my job which was completely unacceptable. I needed sleep to focus, and I couldn’t seem to get any rest without Bridgett, the newbie hooker, in my bed. That was about as f%cked up as some of the sh!t I went through in the Middle East.

Well, no, it wasn’t, but it was still f%cked up.

His well-rested mind is back on track. And since he pays her to do a job, and they both know their “role”, they can both remain safe, right?

Nobody needs to know. And since nobody is emotionally involved (after all, Evan is known to hit up the prostitutes), all is right in the mob-world. He can continue his “jobs” (the hits are interesting in themselves!) and he can handle his “detached private life” journey however he sees fit.  Except that when you take the “prostitute” and the “hit-man” out of the equation, you’re left with two lonely people, unwittingly (and unwillingly) getting to know each other. Ruh roh. ;)

Many reveals in this one. But that original path I was on? (see my review of the prequel)… Well. *smirk* Okay that’s all I can say. ;)  This book really changes things up. The whole first half I had NO idea where it was going, but I knew. I knew something was coming… and boy did it!

SUCH A GOOD (no GREAT!!!) BOOK my friends!!!!!!!! Do yourself a favor. If you need a slight genre change (but still want that adrenaline rush, and a bit of that angst – just in a more “hardened” less obvious way) READ THIS SERIES. It’s not pretty, but you know me. I like ‘em like that, too.

Shay Savage has officially become one of my forever-favorite authors. Her writing is seamless, flows perfectly and “reads” like watching an A-list movie!

Oh I know… you’ve probably heard. And it’s true. This one ends on a cliffhanger.  But you guys!  It’s just so realistic in all of the crazy. She’s such an amazing writer, and every detail she writes is worth every panic attack she induces. The first half? Very good. The second half? Jaw-dropping.

Even my husband would love this. But especially… I would. And I did. I wish it was a movie and I wish I could watch it right now. Better yet, I wish the next book in the series was out right now, but alas, I’ll just have to think and reminisce about this one until then.

4.5 stars!!

P.S. Thanks to the author for this review copy. Rocked my reading world!!! Keep ‘em coming!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Lise July 28, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Yesss…. another Evan fan! Great review, Maryse. This author rocks it! Can’t wait for more of Evan and Bastian!!!

Maryse July 28, 2013 at 3:06 PM

More more more!!!!! :D

Kate July 28, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Can’t wait for the third one. Actually, I feel like the amazon description doesn’t really explain that you REALLY need to read Otherwise Alone first to get the full story.

Maryse July 28, 2013 at 3:29 PM

Oh let me clear that up right now on this review. Good thinking, Kate!!

Erin M July 28, 2013 at 5:48 PM

This has been on my list to read! After this review it just got bumped up. Can’t wait to read.

Rose July 28, 2013 at 8:55 PM

LOVED Surviving Raine and will read these 2 this week. Great reviews!

Michelle M July 28, 2013 at 10:40 PM

Oh thank you Maryse!!! Read Surviving Raine on your recommendation and absolutely devoured it. Shay Savage is brilliant. Read Otherwise Alone last night and was completely captivated. Starting Otherwise Occupied tomorrow and I can hardly contain my excitement. How does Shay Savage suck me into Evan’s character in one short novella?!? She’s made of awesome! :D

Danette July 29, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Yeah, this one was a wonderful surprise. I actually only read it because the prequel was free and I was between “must reads.” Knocked my socks off! Anxiously awaiting the next one, You’re exactly right about it not being a romance… but it is!

Patty September 10, 2013 at 2:45 PM

ok just finished…..great book…on her website it says Otherwise Unharmed is Available Sept. 8, 2013…well today is the 10th and I dont see it anywhere……anyone have any idea when it will be out….I want to read their story !!!

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