When Lance Corporal Brecken Connolly gets taken as a POW, Camryn hopes for the best but steels herself for the worst. In the end, steel was what she needed to survive when he didn’t. She moves on the only way she knows how—gilding herself in more steel.
Years go by.
She builds a new life.
She leaves the old one behind.
Until one day, she sees the face of a ghost on the news. Brecken seems to have risen from the dead, but she knows she can’t perform the same miracle for herself. While Brecken was held in a torture camp for the past five years, she’s been trapped in her own kind of prison. One she can’t be freed from.
The man she mourned comes back to join the living, but the girl he wanted to spend his life with isn’t the same woman he comes back for. Brecken isn’t the same person either. The past five years have changed them both. While he’s determined to put the pieces back together, she’s resolved to let hers rot where they shattered.
He exhaled, his lips parting. “I’m going to win you back.”
When his hand slid around the bend of my waist, winding behind my back, I jerked. His touch was different tonight, hungry, determined. My head clouded, blocking out reason or letting it surface to the top, one or the other.
“I married him,” I whispered even as my hand found his chest.
“But you belong to me.”
My eyes closed as he bowed me against him. I wasn’t sure how two bodies that had been as broken as ours could be so strong when joined. “How do you know?”
“I can see it in your eyes. Every time you look at me.” His other hand lifted to my chin, tipping it until our eyes connected. His brow rose slowly, like I was proving his point right that very moment.
“That’s a confident statement.” My voice shook, but my body felt steady. Unwavering.
“It’s the truth.”
My chest was moving so hard, it brushed his with every breath. What was I doing? Where had I found myself? The man holding me had died only to be resurrected six years later. It was too late, but it wasn’t over.
No matter what, Brecken Connolly and I would never be over.
“Twenty-six days,” I said slowly. “That’s all I have to give you. That’s all I have to give. Four weeks. Once he’s back, you know the way it has to be.”
His face broke, but his hold didn’t budge. “It’s not enough.”
My fingers curled into his shirt, looking for some way to hold on to him. “I know.”
His other arm suddenly looped around me and he lifted me off the ground, his grip going around my backside when my legs tied around him. “But a fucking eternity wouldn’t be enough either, so it’ll just have to do.”
He carried me through the sand and up the stairs of the cabin, then he propped me against the wall so he could open the screen door. Something slipped out of my mouth when he flexed his hips into mine.
“Told you it wasn’t a morning issue,” he whispered in my ear, but I could hear the smile in his voice. “Just a Camryn one.”
He made the same motion with his hips, applying a little more friction this time, causing a louder sound to echo from my lungs.
Opening the screen door as silently as he could, he carried me inside.
“You can set me down, you know?” I whispered.
“I know,” he said, his arms tying tighter. Once all of the lights were off, the cabin closed up for the night, he padded down the hall.
“You know where you’re going?”
His head nodded beside mine. “I’ve always known.”
My hands went behind his neck. His skin was warm and familiar. “And where’s that?”
He exhaled against my skin as he closed the bedroom door. “Toward you.”
He set me down once he’d untied my legs from around his waist, and he took a few steps back. He stared at me for a moment then reached for the lamp on the dresser.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Turning on the lights.”
I watched him flip on another. “Why?”
“Because I want to see you. Because I want to watch your face as I move inside you. Because I want to see your skin flush when I make you come.” He flipped on one more light, then all of his attention turned to me. “Because I want to see everything.”
My heart took off as I imagined being intimate with him with every light in the room on. My body wasn’t the same one he’d left. It had carried a burden; it bore the scars of a shattered soul and a broken body. “I don’t want you to see me. Not like that. In the dark, you can imagine the way I was before.”
When I reached for the closest lamp to switch it off, he stopped me. “I don’t want to imagine.” His hand curled around mine, guiding it away from the lamp. “I want the real thing. I want the real you.”
“You’ve seen my body. You know what I look like beneath all of this.” I motioned at the fresh clothes hanging off of me, covering me from my wrists to my ankles to my neck.
“When I look at you, I see beauty and strength, and the one person in the world who gives me a reason to live and a reason to die.” He drew me to him, his face creased in lines of concentration. “That’s what I see when I look at you.”
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
TORTURED was an emotional, heart-pounding read that struck me straight out of the first few pages and kept the same tense, yearning until the end. This book tortured me with its suspense, angst, hurt and hope but it's not too long a book that it spins those feelings out for too long. However, there is discomfort and pain for the reader ahead.
First, I think that this book is best read without spoilers, maybe even without re-reading the blurb. Having read the blurb a month or so ago, I went in blind apart from the title. Torture is the name of the this game but it was so much more and wide than I'd realised and was so well written. I did have moments of flashback to 'Homeland' and this just shows how much this read ended up being my kind of thing.
The two main characters, Camryn and Brecken were the kind of high school boyfriend-girlfriend that is heartwarming, all-consuming and living their idea of forever. When they meet again, these two are utterly changed. Camryn was a victim of her circumstances and I can't hand on heart say I felt she was a strong woman, but who would be in her situation? She was a character with depth, I liked her and I wanted the best for her. I definitely did not understand her pattern of thinking but from what I know factually of these scenarios, her actions and thoughts were consistent with reality. Brecken was just all that is good; I loved him. He wasn't unrealistic in his deep affection and integrity, he was just that kind of man and I want to put an order in for one just like him. These two were connected very deeply and their growth together was absorbing reading. There's a third character in this story and I hated him. Enough said. The story and writing flowed naturally and beautifully. I was running through various ending-scenarios in my head and events were both slightly predictable and unpredictable; neither of those variations spoilt my enjoyment. I would recommend this book to most readers and advise a tissue in hand, maybe to wring and rip or maybe to wipe a tear.
This is another great book from Nicole Williams and it is again different from other books she writes. I love this versatility she is able to bring to storylines. I'm adding this to my hard copy purchase pile.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in return for a honest review.
Reviewed for Jo&IsaLoveBooks Blog.
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