4 out of 5 stars
Ok, I’ve been reading quite a bit of H.M. Ward for over a year now. And as always, we’re left with a cliffhanger right? Not so much with Damaged. It ends with us wanting more, but that’s the whole point of a book series right? But at least Ward didn’t leave me wanting to throw my book because someone’s dying, or attacked right at the end to leave us wondering for months what the hell happened.
Sidney is a typical college girl – has friends – likes to swing dance – she’s smart, smart enough to land herself a scholarship and TA position that will pay for her entire education – leaving money enough to live off of. But there’s something off with her – she doesn’t date, yet she allows her roommate to set her up on all these blind dates knowing full well in advanced nothing is going to come of it. Yet, she still goes to appease her friend – or to try to get some sense of normalcy back – we get the drift that something went down back home in New Jersey that she’s not ready to tell us yet.
So, Ms. Sidney is at the restaurant looking for her friend and blind date – when she finds a man sitting alone at a booth who she assumes is her date. But this time she’s actually attracted to him – she’s kinda hot and bothered by his dark hair and sapphire eyes that seem to see right through her. She finds herself shaking a little – nervous even as she sits down and orders a glass of wine. They barely have a conversation – some heavy flirting for sure – before Sidney’s roommate finds her and tells her they’re sitting across the restaurant already. She’s obviously embarrassed and leaves before getting the stranger’s name. Sometime through dinner her date gets a little handsy and she freaks and leaves them all sitting there. As she’s walking out Mr. Dark and Hansom (Peter) is across the street with his car hood up. Sid helps him out, drives him back to his apartment and he invites her up for “Coffee.” The grown-up – nonchalant way of asking, do you want to have sex? And Sid is finding out that she does – after a really long time – she finally wants it, and on her terms. If this is what it’s going to take for her to get over whatever happened back home? Then so be it. She’s ready – and Peter is the first man she’s been attracted too that she’d actually consider having sex with. Thing start to get pretty hot – heavy make out session on the couch but then the damn phone rings and seems to snap Peter back into the realm of non-hormones and he stops the situation before it gets out of hand and basically sends Sid packing.
She’s irritated, embarrassed – and a little sad. Peter was the first guy she had really connected with since – well, at this point in the book we haven’t found out yet – but I was already sure she’d been raped at some point in her past. So Sidney goes about her business the next day at school/work she goes to her TA assignment – finding out the professor she’s been working for all year has suddenly passed away. She’s shocked, sad and now going to have to meet her new professor and have to start all over again with him. And wouldn’t you know it? When she walks into the class – late of course – it’s Mr. Peter Granz at the front of the podium – slack jawed – shocked as Sidney tries to remember how to walk – and finally finds a seat at the front of the room. There’s the obvious pull again – they’re attacked to each other. They have chemistry – and now throw in the forbidden relationship with the hot professor and his TA? C’mon this is what smut was made for! Forbidden romances always add a little more spice to things.
After some awkwardness – some conversation – they agree to be friends and work professional together. Peter is still getting to know Sidney and she’s opening up to him – him of all people – the first person in years and finally admits to what happened back home in New Jersey. Her high school boyfriend raped her – he was her brother’s best friend and her parents adored him. So when she told her mother what happened? They all took his side and tried to make Sidney believe what she experienced was a mistake – a misunderstanding. Nice eh? So she ran away to college in Texas and never looks back – doesn’t call – doesn’t write – nothing. But we find out that her brother has found out where she is – and has been sending her letter’s – letter’s she doesn’t bother opening for months.
And then we find out what Peter’s issues are – and that his past relationship ended with a proposal – a mugging – a knife to the gut – and I believe his would-be fiance’ getting killed. Talk about a sad pair – but they’ve found each other now and both start feeling things they thought were dead….. love…. lust…. and everything in between. But of course, if they act on it? He’ll loose his job – she’ll loose her scholarship and everything will go down in flames right?
Well one evening, Peter tell’s her he’s already written his resignation letter and slipped it under his supervisor’s office door. Sidney feels like he’s giving up way to much just to be with her – and of course she thinks she’s not worthy of such an act – breaks his heart and leaves him standing in the hallway. She is walking out into the parking lot to her car when her ex-rapist boyfriend approaches her and tries to drag her into the car. Her brother and her ex have come to fetch her – and bring her back to New Jersey with or without her permission. A fight ensues – her ex-boyfriend kicks the crap out of her but she fights tooth and nail – she’s refusing to give up this time and allow him to hurt or touch her again.
Just as she get’s away she starts running back towards the English Building where she left Peter in the hallway – he walks out of the building and see’s her – obviously hurt. Her brother walks up and immediately starts taking his friend’s side, explaining that Sidney didn’t recognize him in the dark and it was just a misunderstanding – and Peter see’s red – he goes at the two of them and the fight is on! Even two to one Peter is holding his own – but Sidney grabs her pepper spray and spray’s both her brother and her ex – giving them a way out.
Peter takes her back to his apartment and tends to her wounds – they finally admit their feelings for each other openly and she stays the night – falling asleep in his arms. Peter has no job – he refuses to listen to his supervisor in the morning when she calls, begging for him to reconsider his resignation. But he’s found someone who see’s through him – see’s everything and loves him for it – he can’t give that up – not for a job.
Sidney’s brother finds her at Peter’s apartment and bangs on the door – Peter let’s him in with a threatened condition. Her brother explains he’s been writing her hoping she’d come home because their mother is sick, and she’s been asking for Sidney. Sid doesn’t want to hear any of it – she wants to ignore the things her brother said, crawl back into Peter’s arms and live in their prvate little bubble. But she knows she can’t – she has to go home – she has to face the family that’s rejected her – and chose the word of someone else… but of course, she’ll have Peter at her side the whole time….
Damaged #2 was released June 24th – and I’m probably not going to get any sleep tonight until I finish it.
It was a quick morning – outside on my patio – three cup of coffee book. I like H.M. Ward – her writing style is interesting and she has a way to keep you interested even when things are slowing down. Her Arrangement Series – 8 short story collection is on amazon – VERY cliffhanger – but you’d have eight to wiz through before you’re impatiently waiting for more.