UNEXPECTED PROTECTOR (Isthmus Alliance #2)
by Sloan Johnson
Published: October 26, 2013, Sloan Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 ⭐️
A messed up junkie, Holly Richards can only think of herself in those terms. She almost had her best friend badly hurt, who does that? She doesn't understand why that man keeps coming to her hospital room, half the time she keeps her eyes closed, not wanting to acknowledge anyone. She doesn't deserve any kindness and she will never admit that hearing his voice makes her feel safe.
Suspended from his job, Tommy Reed spends his days sitting by Holly's bedside, even though he doesn't really know the woman. Something happened when he saw her hurt and defenseless on the ground, there is something good there, something pure inside her still despite all the things she has done for the sake of drugs. He is determined to dig deep and find that goodness, and help her battle her demons, if she'll let him.
Other than Holly's best friend, no one seems particularly pleased with Tommy's quest to help Holly. Most of his friends, including his best friend, are pissed off at him for even trying, seemingly sure that she will inevitably screw up again and get someone other than herself hurt for real this time. But Tommy stands strong and slowly eases Holly into trusting him.
Having mostly been under the numbing influence of drugs in recent memory, Holly finds it difficult at first to adjust to actually feeling again. Especially the pain of disgust and derision at what she has done, some from others but mostly her own is what hurts most. But she also slowly learns how to feel pleasure, real pleasure at the hands of a masterful and patient Dom. Strange, she never had pegged herself as a submissive.
The adjustments are not easy, but slowly Holly starts fighting for herself and Tommy can ease back and let her fly. The effort she is putting in is not going unrecognized by Tommy's friends either. But before things get too comfortable, Tommy's past suddenly comes back to haunt him. It starts with a chance encounter and then is followed by the nighmares........
AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!! So good!!! And yet.......... a cliffhanger of sorts!!!! NOOOOOOO........
Silly, I know, but since Sloan's first book Unexpected Angel, I was kind of expecting a fully completed story with this one...... Don't get me wrong, I know it's a series, but you can't really read this book without whatever book follows. It isn't a standalone, like Unexpected Angel could be. Tommy and Holly's story isn't quite done yet.......well......I hope not!! There are loose ends that need some serious tying up in a next book, please!
However, Sloan's writing is again, beyond reproach. It is delicious and hot and raunchy and yet still tender and sweet. The importance she puts on friendship and the depth of it, is evident again in this book, something I really appreciate since a lot of us see friends (at least some of them), as the family of our choosing.
Especially in an organisation like the Isthmus Alliance, where all is based on trust, Tommy's position is a difficult one. He has an instinctive faith, a belief in Holly, that no one else seems to see or share and despite the fact that his closest circle is not supportive of his choice to stand by her, he holds onto that belief and to her and just will not let go. Here is an ex-junkie who has caused nothing but harm, and he still puts his trust in her.
On the other hand there is Holly who, other than her best friend, has never had reason to believe or trust anyone. Everyone in her world always has an alterior motive. Until Tommy proves her wrong, over and over again he proves his faith in her until she starts believing in herself and trusting in him. Always she has given herself in return for something, but with Tommy she gives herself because she trusts him.
What irony. The whole story is one of contrasts and conflicts, and the most unlikely couple that battles through it all.
I missed the suspense that I suspect may have been intended for Holly and Tommy's story, if not in this book then certainly in the next. I am not specifying what suspence, on purpose, since I don't want to give everything away, but I hope we see some closure on that front in the next book in The Isthmus Alliance Series.
✨Provocative, sharply insightful and fiercely arousing!✨
**ARC provided in return for an honest review.**