by Jill Sorenson
Published: December 31, 2013, Harlequin HQN
My rating: 4.5 of 5 ⭐️
Owen Jackson and a Penny Sandoval have a history. Five years ago he was a convicted felon and she was rejected by her parents due to her unplanned pregnancy when they where trapped together under an overpass after a massive earthquake. Owen had stood up for and by Penny through their ordeal and despite their vast differences in background, they came through close friends. Penny's father, already active in the political arena pulled some strings and managed to eventually have Owen assigned to their security detail.
Despite having been within sight of each other for most of the past five years, Owen has always kept his feelings for Penny under lock and key. It hasn't always been easy, but at least he was able to show true affection for her son Cruz, who he had helped bring into this world. At times Penny would give off signals that indicated she might have more than just a friendly interest in him, but they both had too much to lose to act on a mere possibility.
When an alarm at a political rally for her father causes chaos, it allows Owen and the driver to be overpowered and Penny and her son to be abducted. Owen is tied up and taken along as well as the group makes their way into the California badlands, country very familiar to Owen as well as the apparent leader of this operation. His family came from there. Owen was shocked to find his own brother behind the abduction plan, he was only released from prison a month ago.
The gang is careful with Penny, since she is their bargaining tool for a substantial amount of ransom, but they have no such reservations for Owen and are brutal in their treatment of him. Terrified they have killed him, Penny finds an opportunity to escape with her son and flees the camp. When discovered, an attempt is made to use Owen to lure her back, but Owen is determined to foil the gang's plans and find Penny himself to help her and Cruz to safety.
Under the direst of circumstances, and in the face of danger, the close mouthed Owen starts revealing some of his complicated family dynamics, along with the true depth of his feelings for Penny and his reasons for the years of emotional distance. Penny is thrilled to have finally broken through some of his carefully erected barriers, to see her feelings reflected back. If only they could find a way to stay alive long enough to enjoy the discovery.....
Dangerous, disturbing, hot and heroic!!
I have loved every book in this "Aftershock Series" by Jill Sorenson. The books are such a great blend of suspense, action, romance and some heat. Fantastic imperfect heroes with human flaws that make them all the more attractive and strong, capable heroines, not easily taken for a ride and often doing as much of the rescuing as being rescued. It is merely a matter of how one looks at it.
Owen grew up on the wrong side of the tracks so to speak, not an ideal childhood, and he got in trouble through his involvement with his brother, who had less of a moral compass than Owen did. Being a young kid still, Owen's time in prison was not good for him, it scarred him emotionally and he did what he had to to survive, but somehow he never lost his moral compass.
Penny had more of a privileged upbringing, but far more public, which is why her young unplanned pregnancy caused such an uproar and estranged her from her parents temporarily. Living through a disaster and giving birth mellowed out the situation and guilt kept Penny bound to her influencial father and unable to make many choices for herself.
Jill Sorenson's great descriptive powers bring everything alive. From the desolate scenery, to the tension building in a scene, or feelings of utter fear and desperation, Her words have the ability to place you right inside the story, so much so, that the world around you seems to stop.
✨Fabulous writing, amazing characters and a thrilling story!!✨